Pete Lake September 3-5 2011
As I play catch up on documenting all of our summer and fall adventures this year, the Pete Lake backpacking trip stands out as one of my most favorite. For the second year, we chose to do a family backpacking trip on Labor Day weekend (September 3-5). Pete Lake is an easy four mile trail with only 400 elevation gain. The most difficult part to this trip was the long drive through Cle Elum and out to the trail head. I chose this trail because the weather east of Snoqualmie Pass is reliable for forecasting and this trail’s flat four miles makes for a quick escape with children should there be a reason to leave quickly.
Day 1 – Saturday, Sept. 3rd
We arrived at the trail head around 1 pm after filling our stomachs with burgers from some local burger joint. This was completely against our normal routine, but it was the only economical choice in Cle Elum. After covering the kids and ourselves with sun block and bug spray, we threw on our packs, locked the car and headed out for three days. This trail is very kid friendly and provided plenty of adventure for J-Hawk and Rosabell. Numerous log crossings and stream jumping awaited them. Because J-Hawk and Rosabell were carrying a backpack equivalent to each of their body sizes and ability, the hike took a lot longer than a typical day hike. Also, because we had little need to rush them, we took many breaks. Around 5:30, we arrived at Pete Lake and began to search for a good camp site. After a half our of searching, we found our spot. The kids helped Jonathan and I set up the tent and make dinner. Our spot was amazing as we had a full view of the lake with snow capped ridges in the distance.As the sun went down around 7 that evening, we finally climbed in the tent for the evening. The kids were still super excited that we were actually camping and it took them a good hour to finally fall asleep.
We all woke up around 6 am and we all went back to sleep for another two hours. It was great. Around 8, we started climbing out of our tents. The sun was shinning over the lake and we decided to pack up everything for breakfast and go sit on the little island on the side of the lake in the sun. The kids watched us make oatmeal and hot chocolate. This was a perfect breakfast. After everyone washed their dishes, we cleaned up camp and set out on a day hike. In short, we hiked to the other side of the lake and the kids took turns crossing a shallow twenty foot wide creek that fed the lake. Eventually the kids left the creek and went to play in the lake. Jonathan and I just kicked back and took in the scenery. J-Hawk and Rosabell played in the lake for the next two hours. For lunch we made peanut butter/honey tortillas (a camping favorite).
After lunch, we hiked back around the lake to our camp site and I took photos while everyone else took naps. As the evening rolled around, J-Hawk and I took off to the other side of the lake again to filter much better tasting water from the creek. It was sweet to see Jonathan and Rosabell sitting out on a large rock on the lake admiring the sunset. This evening’s dinner consisted of mac & cheese and hot chocolate. As the sun went down, the kids continued to throw rocks into the lake until they could not see anymore. We all tried to stay up as late as we could knowing that tomorrow we would be hiking back out.
We woke up at 7 and started preparing for our hike out. After another sun basking breakfast out on the lake island, we make our way back to the campsite and began disassembling the tent. Within the hour, we were all packed and ready to begin our final four miles back to the car. This time the hike back seemed more interesting to the kids. Because we were leaving the campsite at 10 am, we had plenty of time to hike back to the car. We stopped many times along the way for rest stops, bathroom breaks, and snacks.
At the half way point, we all had to clear completely off the trail as team of horses and campers came down the trail. The kids were amazed at the size of the horses and loved asking each of the riders about each horse. One of the riders warned us of a brand new horse that would be coming down the trail fifteen minutes later and told us to stay about ten feet back from the trail in case we spooked the horse. As we saw the next team of horses, Rosabell and I had to climb up part of the hillside to keep an adequate distance. The horses walked by us and there was no incident.
Around 2 pm, we made it to the car. The kids were so excited to “drop their packs” and kick off their boots. We still had a three hour drive home but it was great to change clothes and use a real trail head bathroom. While loading up the packs, a forest service fire truck drove into the parking lot. One of the firemen noticed the kids and grabbed some Smokey Bear coloring books and crayons. Nice timing and this kept them entertained until they fell asleep.
This was a great second backpack trip for them. This time I chose a trail that was more suited for both of their abilities and they enjoyed every moment. Most people simply day hike this trail in a few hours, however, this was a full scale adventure to a four and six year old. Now that I am writing this six months later, I can say that they are still asking to go backpacking again.