We decided to start things out right with a solid breakfast of bacon and made from scratch banana pancakes before heading out on a hike. We packed our backpacks with roughly 20 pounds of gear (continuing to train for our upcoming backpacking trip to Ireland) and headed out with Latigo in tow. Bobby found this hike while visiting one of our favorite trip report websites, Hiking with my Brother, it was their “Hike of the Week”. With 2200 feet of elevation gain and 11 miles total trip distance we thought the Granite Lakes Trail would be an excellent choice to continue the mission of getting ourselves into shape. With temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s predicted throughout the Cascades and no clouds in sight we had high hopes of clear, clean, and snow-free trails. We were almost right… Almost.
The trail has been greatly transformed from the old forest road it used to be. It was clear that trail crews have been working extensively on this trail. New, large benches carved out of old downed logs and stumps were regular encounters along the trail up until the crossing of Granite Creek.
The river crossing is also undergoing a transformation, with a new railing.
The path was, overall rocky but dry until, with only about a mile left until the turnaround point, we reached 2400 feet and the snow began to creep its way onto the trail. Until we found ourselves traversing 5-6 foot high piles of snow in between small stream crossings.
The hot conditions made for slushy snow. Luckily, we didn’t posthole often. It actually only happened once. We were making our way back down the trail after having finally reached the lakes after enduring an excruciating hour of hiking through slush at a, somewhat, steep incline. I was following Bobby and stepped right were he had but the snow couldn’t hold me. I went down. Down to my waist into the snow. I think my pack stopped me from falling further in. My right leg was dangling, the ground still a couple of feet away and with the added weight of my pack I couldn’t get myself up. Bobby pulled me out and onto more solid snow. After my initial shock, and rather girlish scream, the laughter set in.
We continued the hike out, I had a soggy right leg but was, thankfully, unscathed. We hadn’t brought along gaiters and were wearing shorts because of the heat, which meant that our boots were common hosts to clumps of slushy snow. Bobby was leading the majority of the way, as he usually does, and his boots were soon full of snow and water. As we made it to dry, clear land he decided to take a break and wring his socks out before continuing on. Luckily, I had packed an extra pair of socks, and while a little small for him, he was able to swap out socks.
This trail wasn’t a particularly good choice for that weekend because of the snow that still covered the trail. The lakes are, I’m sure, more than scenic in the summer months but as of yet they are still completely covered in snow. It was a rather anticlimactic turnaround point. The trek down was fairly uneventful and we made it back to the car without further incident.
Our pace was slow on this trail averaging only 2 miles per hour and taking longer than expected, our total trip time ended up being 6 hours.
Overall, the day was a success, we didn’t let the snow stop us from reaching our destination, but, we were disappointed at how exhausted we were after only doing 11 miles. With the knowledge that our first day in Ireland is 15 miles we knew that we should really push ourselves tomorrow to do more mileage than we have ever done before.