Sheep Lake ~ Sourdough Gap ~ Naches Peak ~ Naches Peak Loop
Aug. 25-26 2015
These shorter hikes are in Chinook Pass area of Mt. Rainier. If you are willing to drive 1.5 hours from Tacoma/Seattle, this is the perfect little spot for a little one’s first overnight trip. In fact, this was my older daughter’s first overnight trip with just me a few years ago. This time around, we had a little logistical challenge….a one year old child. She would not be able hike the entire 1.5 miles to the lake/camping area, yet I needed my large backpack to carry most of our gear and would not be using a baby carrier. This resulted in having her sit on my shoulders while still carrying a 35 pound pack.
We completed 10 miles over two days and spent more time in the lake then on hiking trails!
This was a fantastic trip for all of us. My older two kids were rockstars the entire trip. From hiking all the way to the lake to setting up our campsite, they worked together like they had done this a hundred times….maybe they have. After camp was set up, we headed down to the lake to eat lunch and filter water. An hour or so later we headed up to Sourdough Gap to check out the view. We lingered at the gap for an hour or so climbing up different rock outcrops and checking out different views. Eventually, we headed back down to camp. The kids immediately went back to play in the lake. It was a busy couple days in this area. Many PCT thru hikers were coming through as well as other families with small kids. J-Hawk made a canoe out of a log and paddled around the lake. Eventually Rosabell climbed onto that log and with their weight combined, the log sat just below water surface.
It was a true pleasure to watch Little Red get dirty in the mud and run back out to the lake and the older two paddled around the lake while falling off their log many times. This is where my kids embrace their freedom. The freedom to explore, challenge nature, get dirty and only call it quits when their bodies tire. That evening, we watched the sun go down while eating dinner and talking about what trip we will do next.
Sometimes, the most difficult part about backpacking with kids is convincing them that it is time to go back. For many of us, our adventure is a quick pattern of making our way to base camp, achieving our selected goal, sleeping, waking the next day, packing and immediately heading out. After all, we have things to get back to. But kids don’t have those expectations or responsibilities. In fact, returning back home means jumping back into the routine of chores, cleaning bedrooms and going to school. I think from a child’s perspective, it makes sense to stay and explore all day.
We woke up at 9am…that is sleeping in. I think we all really woke up at 6 but everybody was convinced to go back to sleep. By 9, Sheep Lake had come back to life. The PCTers had already moved on and everybody else was out walking around eating breakfast. We grabbed our dishes, breakfast and headed back down toward the lake. After a warm breakfast and hot chocolate, the kids all headed back to the tent. I made a deal that if they finished packing up, that I would let them spend a few more hours at the lake.
With packs packed and sitting at the lake, the kids continued to swim, row the log and climb a nice sized granite slab that sat on the south side of the lake. My youngest had some sort of stomach bug and managed to use up almost every diaper over the past two days. One of us would be hauling out what wonderful collection of diapers. When she fell into the lake for the 20th time, I decided it was time for complete birthday suit appearance in order to salvage one last diaper for the hike out. Even her clothes were too wet to put back on. Eventually, she would end up hiking out in a diaper, a coat and a pair of shoes. After a few hours, waterlogged fingers/toes, and a future promise to stop for ice cream, I convinced the kids that it was time to start heading back down the mountain. We were a site to see.
We headed down with dirty smiles and great memories. Soon we met up with the connector trail to Naches Peak Loop, followed the loop for another 3 miles and headed back to the car. We vowed to come back, again. This is an extremely easy hike for older kids, but it is an endless playground for them once they get to the lake.