I'm just going to say it: Tonight's hike was magical. We haven't hiked up to Marlette Lake in a couple of years and we usually do so in the fall when the aspens along its shore have turned golden yellow. We've been above it more recently than we've hiked to it. But this was our first time up here during the spring.
Since today is Thursday, which means it's our hill hike day, my husband decided we should hike up this really steep section of trail near/above Chimney Beach and check out Marlette at the top. I looked up the trail stats to get myself mentally prepared. Three miles up to the lake with 1,759 elevation gain. Whew. Sounds like a blast.
Additionally, the last time we hiked down from Marlette on this particular stretch of the trail, several years ago, it was my first time experiencing patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee), which plagued me for a few years thereafter. So I kind of have less-than-fond memories of this trail.
But I thought we could give it a try.
This trail doesn't mess around with steepness. You have about 50 feet at the very beginning before you start climbing, and it doesn't stop much for the rest of the 3 miles.
But we did see several snow plants along the trail!
And this cool "rock within a rock."
As we turned a corner and yet another abrupt steep section was in front of us, I remember stating out loud, "Wow. There is NO reprieve with this trail." But I just keep telling myself, "put one foot in front of the other," and I keep going.
Let me tell you, this was a welcomed sight.
It took us 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the lake. And we felt rewarded with the views.
And this was such a massive, beautiful tree. I just had to get my picture taken next to it. Wow. Love it.
Then my husband spotted what we thought might be a duck snoozing atop a rock in the water. As I got closer, he woke up, but I'm not 100% sure if it was a merganser or some kind of loon, but it was fun to see some wildlife.
Usually, I like to stop and rest and have a snack once we reach our destination; take in the sights. Aside from snapping a few photos, we did not rest at all. In fact, my husband just kept going along a dirt Marlette Road that parallels the shoreline until it connected to another leg that we started climbing up, that is until we reached more snow on the trail than we were willing to deal with.
We ended up turning around and heading back toward the same route we came up. Just then, I heard a frog croaking nearby and it made me smile. I got out my protein bar and ate it while fast-hiking back to our trail, which is when I realized we hadn't really stopped walking this entire time. Just then, my husband said, "It's so quiet. All we can hear is our feet on the dirt."
He was right. It was unbelievably quiet and serene and peaceful. And we had it all to ourselves. Despite seeing several cars in the parking lot, the trail was empty and we ended up only briefly seeing a single mountain biker up at the lake.
On our way back down, I somehow zigged when I should have zagged, and we ended up off on a different, much-less-traveled trail. Once my husband realized this (I DID NOT!), he got out the trail map on his phone and confirmed that the trail we wanted was a ways above us, so we jumped off trail and proceeded to climb straight up the mountainside to get back to our intended trail. As we were navigating around, I laughed because I saw lots of other hiker footprints in the dirt which made me feel like a few others had done the very same thing we were doing.
I about wore myself out climbing back up to the trail, but eventually we found it and continued our way down, even picking up a moderate jog during a couple of the stretches.
Once again, we were still out on the trail for sunset, so I stopped and caught a few nice shots. Believe it or not, we actually made it back to the parking lot before dark this time!
This definitely was a challenging hike, but in the end, it felt like a great accomplishment tonight (we surpassed 200 miles for the year so far!) and we got to spend some time enjoying a peaceful, a magical, Marlette Lake.