- Pratt Lakes Loop
joined me for a long one way day hike passing four lakes and looking
down on a fifth. I had done the Melakwa Lakes - Pratt Lake loop trip
twice before. Once
since I started this website.
Kim had not done the section between Melakwa Lakes and the Pratt -
Defiance trails junction. It was an overcast morning that was supposed
to burn off in the afternoon. All the better to gain most of the
elevation before the route heated up. We left one car at the Pratt Lake
trailhead right off I-90 and drove the short distance to the Denny
Creek trailhead. There were only a few cars in the lot at 7:40 am. The
bugs were not bad at all giving us some hope for the day.
The 2006 Melakwa - Pratt loop was the last time I was on the
Denny Creek trail. The log across the creek at the bathing rocks was
still in place. The easy grade made for a quick trip to the bathing
rocks. It was strange for me to be there when there were no other
people. By going counter clockwise we hit the most popular part of the
trip early in the morning. The water was low at the creek crossing and
we had no trouble crossing with dry feet. it was muggy climbing up the
valley but still cloudy. Keekwulee Falls soon came into view. The water
flow was very low. Since Kim had not been to the flat area above the
falls we took the short detour. Back on the trail we could hear one
group above us and another single hiker had just passed by.
As we climbed towards Hemlock Pass we passed through the cloud layer.
It was now bright sunshine and blue sky. The sea of clouds was now
below us. The temperature seemed to rise about 20 degrees. One group
was already on their way down. At the pass it was back into forest.
We arrived at the first Melakwa Lake to find it was sunny. A
few minutes later wispy clouds began to blow through. A few minutes
later those wispy clouds turned into a white out. The lake disappeared
into a sea of white. Well, we were heading to Upper Melakwa Lake and a
few minutes later we were there. It was crystal clear. No clouds. Quite
a contrast in a very short distance.
There were folks camping at the lake as expected. There were some day
hikers too. We had an early lunch and headed back. Just below the main
lake we reached the junction with the trail down to Lower Tuscohatchie
Lake. We could see misty clouds below. This trail is seldom hiked and
was in excellent condition. Some signs of a little trail maintenance in
the last few years. No logs to crawl over. The forest is very pretty.
We even found some ripe huckleberries. Lots of early season wildflowers
like queens cup were blooming. This gentle trail is much smoother and
easier than the rocky trail back down Denny Creek. Much to my surprise
we even saw two groups on this section of trail.
So far the bugs were nearly non existent. That made two weeks in a row
in mid summer. Not that I'm complaining. We stopped at Lower
Tuscohatchie for the rest of lunch. Several tents were visible. The
rain the day before and overcast morning was not keeping everyone away.
This was just about the middle of our trek. Still 6.5 miles to go. The
trail over to Pratt Lake did not take long. We had good views down to
the Pratt River Valley. No views up to Kaleetan Peak which was lost in
the low clouds. I was surprised to see a new sign for the upper end of
the long abandoned Pratt Valley Trail. We crossed the outlet and went a
short way down the trail. The whole route is still on my schedule,
hopefully this year.
More tents at Pratt Lake and more day hikers. Not as crowded as Melakwa
Lake. The clouds parted for a while and it was very hot. We were soon
on our way along the lake. At the end of the lake I found the old
section of the Pratt Lake Trail. On my mid June hike I was able to
follow the old trail up to the junction with the new trail. I noted a
number of devil's club bushes without their leaves. They have them now.
We made it part way before being engulfed by a sea of stickers. It was
time to bail out. Straight uphill and a little right and we made it
back to the new trail with minimal blood loss. Kim was able to see some
of the old puncheon but the old route is not open for summer travel.
Early June, yes. Early August, no. A few more switchbacks and we
reached the ridge top junction with the Defiance Trail. Another group
was there. That was about it for hikers. We saw only one or two the
rest of the way back.
Our last break was at the Olallie Lake overlook. More white sky now and
no view of Mt. Rainier. The last four miles went by fairly fast. Easy
soft trail all the way. Back at the trailhead there were only a dozen
cars. We took the whole day to make our trek and it was thoroughly
enjoyable. A quick drive back to Danny creek to fetch my car and we
were done. I always enjoy one way hikes. This one is close to Seattle,
has lots of lakes and not all that many people beyond Melakwa Lakes.
Not a bad way to spend an overcast summer day.
I managed to forget my camera on this trip. I've forgotten
my boots, pack, water, you name it but I think this is the first time
for the camera. I was forced to use my phone's camera. Not very good
quality but better than nothing. On the bright side, some photos were
contributed by Kim Brown.
Click on thumbnails to get
Kim Above Falls
Top Of Falls
Hemlock Pass Above
Clouds Roll In
Upper Lake Reflection
Clouds Are Gone
Trail To Lower T Lake
Trail Through Rocks
Lower T Reflection
Pratt River Valley