Eagle Lakes Backpacking Trip

Location: Chelan- Sawtooth Wilderness

Miles: 12

Elevation Gain: 2,480 feet

Time from Seattle: 4.5 hours 

Best time to go: Fall in my personal opinion to see the beautiful larches!

What is a Larch?     "The larch trees of the American West are rare among conifers in that they aren't evergreen; they shed their needles to conserve energy during the fierce winters of their mountain abode. Shortly before the leaves drop, they turn blazing orange-yellow, setting fire to the uplands in a beautiful display not unlike the autumn show of the quaking aspen in the Rockies. Whether intermixed with green pines, firs, and spruces along ridges or set amidst boulders and ice lakes at timberline, Washington's larches become a destination unto themselves in the crisp, shortening days of autumn."  from-  https://www.trails.com/how_2150_see-larches-fall-colors-washington.html

What is a Larch? "The larch trees of the American West are rare among conifers in that they aren't evergreen; they shed their needles to conserve energy during the fierce winters of their mountain abode. Shortly before the leaves drop, they turn blazing orange-yellow, setting fire to the uplands in a beautiful display not unlike the autumn show of the quaking aspen in the Rockies. Whether intermixed with green pines, firs, and spruces along ridges or set amidst boulders and ice lakes at timberline, Washington's larches become a destination unto themselves in the crisp, shortening days of autumn." from- https://www.trails.com/how_2150_see-larches-fall-colors-washington.html

My friend Holly invited me to go larching last weekend and of course I said yes! I didn't get to see them last year as we had a very rainy October that seemed to ruin all the larch plans. I was determined to see this special tree this year. 7 of us left Seattle at 6 and made the long drive to the trailhead. All 7 of us women our connected through the Facebook hiking group- PNW Outdoor Women. A group for all outdoor things for women. Get connected if you aren't yet! We left in pouring rain and made it east of the mountains to find sunshine and blue skies. We met the other half of our group at Sweet River Bakery in Pateros. Such a good decision to carb up before the hike. We would return here for lunch the next day as well it was so good! Our car got a little confused getting to the trailhead with some Google map malfunctions, so make sure to have the directions downloaded! I had never been in the Methow Valley before and it was beautiful with rolling hills. We made the climb up to the trailhead, donned our pack and hit the trail. The weather was amazing when we started with sun and clear skies. This hike doesn't have an intense climb, which was nice. After a couple miles we began to see larches on the mountain side ahead. They were so bright and beautiful and that was only the beginning. White stuff began to fall from the sky and we were all confused as to what it was as it was still sunny. Some thought pollen or ashes, but nope, it was snow. Washington weather can be so silly. I really prefer snow to rain though. It got a bit colder and cloudier but we approached more larches that distracted us from that. They were so much brighter and colorful than I could imagine. We questioned if we should camp at the upper lake or not as people had said it was a lot colder and windier. We got to the middle tarn and a few of us went left to look for the upper lake and see if we should camp there. We were actually supposed to go right, but came across some of the most beautiful parts of the hike accidentally! We rerouted and went up to the upper lake, which was a large alpine lake surrounded by larches and snow. It was much colder and windier up here though. After much debate, we ended up decided to camp a little lower near a ridge with a view of the valley. This was a great decision as it didn't get too windy and it fit our 3 tents fine. We got to legally have a campfire, sip whiskey and wine and enjoy each others company. It's so fun to think that everyone in the group comes from such different places, have all different kinds of careers, but our passion for the outdoors overcomes all of this and brings us together. It's so special to find people to share this with that value it as much as you. It was a cold night in the 20's and I didn't sleep well because of it. We awoke to a wonderful sunrise though that lit up the valley around us. After morning coffee and breakfast we packed up camp and hit the trail back down. This was my first larch outing, but definitely won't be my last.