Tuck and Robin Lakes Backpacking Trip
DATE HIKED: 7/27-29
TOTAL DISTANCE: 16
TOTAL ASCENT: 4,173
REQUIRED PERMIT: ATTAINED AT TRAILHEAD
DOG FRIENDLY: DOGS ALLOWED: YES /ROUGH TRAIL + GOATS MAKE IT NOT SO DOG FRIENDLY
LOCATION: ALPINE LAKES WILDERNESS
RECREATION PASS: NORTHWEST FOREST PASS
As I start every blog post saying, this hike has been at the top of my list for some time. This one was really a priority to get to this summer. The allure of high alpine lakes, surrounding mountain peaks and the chance to see mountain goats was all pulled me to this hike. This hike is the epitome of summer to me and should be at the top of ever PNW backpacker's list.
Kaelee and I committed to do this trip on this weekend. We wanted to take 3 full days to do it, but were able to get 2.5 to do it. We left Seattle mid-day that Friday and hit a lot of traffic going on i90 (lovely summer construction). We drove through the town of Roslyn and down many long forest roads to get to the trailhead. There is a car ford to go through and depending on the time of year, this could be rather deep. Since it was mid-summer it wasn't too bad and the Outback did fine.
We arrived to a full trailhead at 3 PM on a Friday. Goes to show how popular this area is. There are many hikes that originate from this trailhead though. We decided we would hike in as far as we could, set up camp and get an early start on Saturday. We got information from a party coming down that Tuck Lake was packed and that we should camp a little after the trail junction. We did just that and hiked the 4.5 miles in to find a nice campsite off of a creek. The hike up is pretty flat along Helm Lake. There are also many campsites along here. Before and after the campsite we found there were not many options, so plan accordingly. We set up camp by 6, relaxed and tried to hide from the bugs. We knew the bugs would be horrendous this weekend, so we came prepared.
We woke the next morning very early, packed up camped and hiked on. I was very happy to be hiking the big incline so early before it got very hot. The climb to Tuck is tough with heavy packs, but not awful. When we got to Tuck the trails got a little confusing. There are many social trails that break off, so it's easy to get side tracked like we did. We had routes downloaded to reference to try to stay on track as much as possible. People at Tuck were just starting to wake up. There are many campsites around the lake. After Tuck is when the real climb begins though. The trail turns more into a scramble having to use hands once and awhile and always keeping an eye out for cairins to stay on track. To do the entire push to Robin Lakes with a heavy pack would not be enjoyable at all in my opinion. I liked breaking it up into two days.
We finally crested the top of the climb and got our first views of the lakes. Right away I spotted a goat down at someone's campsite. We went to check out this middle area that rises up between two of the lakes for a campsite, but it was already too packed up there. We did reach Robin Lakes by 9 or so for reference and it was already busy from Friday night campers. We saw more goats as we hiked around. Views of Mt. Daniel's and Cathedral rock hovered in the distance. We saw an island looking area with some nice flat granite we wanted to get to to check out for camping. It involved a bit of a hike and scramble down some rocks to get there, but was worth it for the campsite we scored. We set up camp and hid from the bugs. The mosquitos were out full force. We relaxed, ate lunch and debated swimming. The weather changed quickly though and rain came in, then thunder, then hail. We were stuck in the tent for over an hour hoping it would pass. It eventually did and got nice out again. We did decide to swim and used the sleeping pads to "float" (barely). We even jumped into the lake from the middle island into a deep area. That water was cold! The rest of the area caught on and so many people went swimming after us. Even a golden retriever.
We shot sunset, saw more goats, made dinner and then hit the hay early after being up since 4 AM.
We woke in the middle of the night to try to take night shots, but the moon was much too bright so back to sleep we went. We woke up early and took down camp. We heard and saw goats right away. They were running every where and making so much noise. A natural wake up call! The goats distracted us from leaving, but we eventually hiked out before many people were even out of their tents. It was a long hike out (8 miles) so we wanted to get going early. It felt like it took forever, but we eventually made it back to the car.
I love this area so much and would go back here in a heartbeat (with less mosquitos), I wanted to scramble up Granite mountain there, but will have to do that another time. I also want to scramble Mt. Daniel and visit Jade Lake (off of the same trail). So much to see, so little time.