Backpacking Packwood Lake

The trip that almost didn’t happen? I say almost because the original plan was to hit the coast but the forecast called for lots of rain so that was a no go. We scoured and researched and read all the forecasts to see where in the state would be getting the lease amount of rain. Doris found Packwood Lake and the forecast didn’t seem too bad so we settled on it.

Packing for this trip went slightly better than the first time as I had a little more idea of what I was doing, still a newb in the world of backpacking though. I went through my list and made sure I had everything I needed. New supplies this time would be a sea to summit pillow (the best purchase ever), sawyer mini water filter, rain cover for backpack and my hammock.

We were able to get out of Seattle by 3:30 and with a few stops later made it into Packwood by 6. Grabbed some food and was to the trailhead before 7. Make sure you know your directions before getting into “desolate” places like this (no 3G service), or just rely on the locals like we did. Your call. We got everything together and hit the trail just before 7. We were both very anxious to get to the lake before dark and to not be setting up in the dark. The trail is 4.5 miles into the lake with a gentle incline most of the way. It was pretty delightful until it started raining more seriously and then we had to pull out the rain gear. We finally made it to the lake with plenty of light to spear. The lake was pretty busy with people already at their campsites up the lake. We went about a 1/2 mile up the lake and found the first decent spot to set up camp. Lesson of the day: don’t set up your tent on any kind of an incline. This is probably common sense to most, but we had no option really and it didn’t seem that bad at the time. Well as soon as we set up our bed I knew it would be an issue. There was no friction between my sleeping bag and the sleeping pad so I just constantly slid and always woke up in the fetal position. We woke up the next morning and decided to pack up and find a better spot for our second night. Oh, and our original plan was to go to Lost Lake the second night, 5 more mile up the trail. Thank goodness we didn’t attempt that because we later heard that it was still under a lot of snow. So we went another 15-20 minutes up the lake and I spotted a camp site that we nearly missed because it was so secluded, the best kind. We set up camp yet again and set up the hammock as well. This thing is pure luxury out in the wilderness. Just a cup of tea and a good view to boot, the best. Also, I filtered water for the first time and didn’t die, hooray!

Our plan for the second day was to try to hike around the lake since we had nothing else to do. We hiked about an hour up it and found out there is no trail that goes around the lake, only a trail that heads up to higher elevation. We made our way back to the campsite in mid afternoon and lounged around a bit before deciding to start a fire. We gather wood (small pieces), set up paper in it, lit match, after match, after match and nothing. Nothing would catch. Was the wood too wet? Was it too windy? Were we incompetent at starting a fire?.. Desperation came over both of us as we so badly wanted a fire but were not able to get it going. I wanted a cooked marshmallow, dammit! Well truly a gift from God, a younger man walked directly through our campsite (which no one else had and as he was still looking for a place to set up camp). Doris being braver and more exuberant than I (per usual)  asked him for help. He said sure and maybe within 20 minutes, we had a fire going. Pure trail angel right there. We would’ve been cold and in the dark all night if not for him. So we then spent literally 5 hours foraging for wood to keep this damn fire going. We weren’t gonna let it die after all that trouble. We could only get smaller pieces of wood with no ax to chop up bigger pieces, so it was never ending. We roasted marshmallows, sipped boxed wine and enjoyed each others company for the rest of the night. Also, as far as backpacking food goes, you should definitely get Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken and Dumplings. It is basically chicken pot pie, a hot meal never tasted so good.  That night was also the best night of sleep I have got backpacking yet. I will give it to a flat ground and a real pillow! The next morning we took our time getting up, eating breakfast, and soaking in the view one last time. We packed up and made our way back and within a couple hours we were back to the car.

Overall really great trip and would love to explore more of Goat Rocks Wilderness, specially high country.

The more I get into backpacking, get into the wilderness, get out of my comfort zone the more I learn. The more I grow as I person. The more I see what I am capable of and the more I fall in love with it’s beckoning call.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

– Sir John Lubbock


2 thoughts on “Backpacking Packwood Lake

  1. I really like your blog! I’ve done some of the hikes that you’ve done and have also recently gotten into backpacking. My boyfriend and I are doing Packwood on Saturday and looking forward to it. We’re also thinking about moving to Minnesota. . .Why did you move? Your blog makes me want to stay!


    1. Thank you! We moved out here for my husbands’ work. I don’t think I could live away from the mountains now! The winters in Minnesota are pretty brutal too. There are a lot of great things about Minnesota though. What sparked your interest in going there?


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