So it has now become a tradition to backpack Ancient Lakes when the weather is finally warm enough on the eastern side of the state and it’s still crappy on the western side. Such a nice, easy first backpacking outing of the season that it will need to be a tradition for as long as we are in Seattle! This was the first time backpacking a place for the second time for me, so it’s really nice knowing the route and the camp spots and going back to something familiar. A group of 8 of us + 3 dogs made our route from Seattle to Ancient Lakes, just under 3 hours away and left rain and gloom for sun and warmth. The hike in is just 2 miles, and then we found a spot on top of a hill to set up camp with great views to boot. It even had a great fireplace with rock “chairs” set up. I forgot to mention that all of us logged out a piece of wood, or if you’re my husband you bring the whole bundle in your arms on the hike out and do a constant bicep curl for 40 minutes. This year we were prepared for an epic fire unlike the last. Most places in Washington it seems you can’t have fires in the backcountry, so this was a real luxury. After setting up camp and eating lunch we decided to hike the loop we did last year as well. You think that after doing it last year the route would be clear, but it’s actually quite confusing and just feels like you are off trail the entire time. We went up left of the big waterfall and climbed up a steep, loose rock section, that was rewarded with fantastic views at the top. We hiked further back to another waterfall and climbed up this section as well for even better views. We then meandered through the back around a lake, up more sketchy rocks and then down to what was a dried out lake last year and is now a small lake. Once we climbed out of that area we then could eventually see the massive area that all the tents were at and where we were camped. It was not as busy as last year when we went, so I think it is better to go before the mass of crowds make their way out there. We made dinner, hot toddy’s, had a fire and s’mores, and great company made for an awesome night. The sun and warmth was a great reminder that the gloom of winter will not last forever in western Washington and that indeed summer will eventually come. It will still be a long time until we can make it into the high country for backpacking, but there are some great low land options in the mean time. Be careful with dogs out in this area though, Cooper brought home a tick for us- yuck! They are already out there. As the summer heats up this area gets rattlesnakes as well.