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http://blog.niceperson.org/2005/06/25/flapjack-lakes/




Laurabelle's Blog

Making it up as I go along.



Flapjack Lakes


4 Replies

Last weekend Jeff and I went to Flapjack Lakes. It’s a 16-mile hike, 8 miles in and 8 miles out. It’s somewhat like the Heather Park trail in that it’s a relentless slope (never a downward step on the way in). Although it takes 8 miles to gain about 3200 feet, almost all that gain is in the last 4 miles, just like Heather Park.


Like our previous hike, the drama started the night before. (I broke the frame of my glasses the evening before we left for Heather Park.) I had a headache most of the evening, and in the middle of the night I got up for some aspirin and then was sick. Still, I was determined not to let it stop me, and in fact I felt better almost as soon as I set foot on the trail.


The trail didn’t have all that much of what you might call scenery (not like our last trip, anyway), but it was rich in greens and browns and the riotous abundance of vegetable forest life. I didn’t take many pictures, because I didn’t know how to render justice to the scene around me. The beauty is not just in seeing but in experiencing the fresh air and the mountains, streams, and forests around me. I didn’t know how to capture that with a camera that only understands colored pixels.

Waterfall on Donahue Creek: white with rushing water, gray with rock, brown with fallen logs, and green with moss and ferns

It took us two hours to hike the first four miles, which were relatively flat, and then four hours for the next four miles. It wasn’t a bad pace for me, especially considering that this was by far my longest day ever hiking with a full pack. Over ten years ago my father and I hiked 13 miles up and down canyons, all in one day (there’s a precious photo of us both at the end, slack-jawed and exhausted), but this was a little different. We weren’t the fastest pair on the trail, but we got there in the end, and even I noticed that I was hiking faster and not taking as many breaks. I’m getting better.

We arrived at the lake at about 3pm and chose a campsite. That evening, a doe and her fawn wandered around our campsite a little. We only caught glimpses of the fawn, bouncy and skittish as it was (and extremely cute). His mother, on the other hand, was not at all afraid of us and hung about our camp quite a bit that evening and in the morning as well. I don’t think I’d ever seen a live deer so close, and I was amazed by the seeming frailty of her long, thin legs and delicate muzzle.

A doe and her fawn (only ears visible through the trees and bushes)
A doe and her fawn (only ears visible through the trees and bushes)

The next morning dawned bright, windless, and clear. As always, it took us a long time to get dressed, fed, and packed, and then we hiked around the lakes a little to take in the views before we left.

Two skies: the heavens mirrored in the lake
The Sawtooth Range, viewed from the narrow isthmus between the lakes

Just as we were about to hit the trail, Jeff stopped and pointed. Two male deer were just coming out of the underbrush at the edge of the clearing. I managed to pull out my camera and snap a couple of photos before they disappeared among the trees beside the lake.

Two male deer, moving away
Two male deer, one in mid-leap?

The last bit of wildlife to enliven our hike came first into our consciousness as a sound. It was a low, dull, buzzing kind of whoop whoop whoop whoop, and at first I thought it sounded like Jeff’s cell phone (which is always set to vibrate), but it wasn’t. We kept hearing it intermittently as we walked around, and it drove me nuts.

On Sunday, as I passed under a tree overhanging the trail, I chanced to startle a bird, which launched itself from its perch and flapped to another tree across from us. As we watched, it puffed up its neck, proud and round like a doughnut, and emitted its thrumming call. We were overjoyed to know what beast was producing that noise (whee, I’m not insane!), but we still don’t know what it was. It was black or otherwise dark-colored. It had a tail that stood up like a turkey’s, but it was perhaps about the size of a small chicken, and it could fly. Anyone know?

Mystery bird

Update: Google Maps has a decent satellite image of the Staircase area.
https://www.google.com/maps/@47.540932,-123.341446,15957m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en"
The trailhead is at the northwest corner of Lake Cushman (the big lake in the southeast corner of the image), and the lakes are in the middle of the image. The trail to Flapjack Lakes curves around along the North Fork Skokomish River for about half the way before it really starts climbing. The point where the trail leaves the river is just about at the bend where the NFSR turns north (and forks with a couple of creeks).





4 thoughts on “ Flapjack Lakes
  • Karen 26 Jun 2005 at 2:45

    I didn’t take many pictures, because I didn’t know how to render justice to the scene around me.

    You don’t do too bad!

    The beauty is not just in seeing but in experiencing the fresh air and the mountains, streams, and forests around me. I didn’t know how to capture that with a camera that only understands colored pixels.

    You can’t but you give a feel for it and prod memories, especially with your descriptions. I’m just envious :)

  • Kris 26 Jun 2005 at 8:26

    Thanks again for posting your “travel log”. Where in Washington are Flapjack Lakes? Are they part of the Olympic Mtns.?

    Reply
    • Laurabelle Post author 26 Jun 2005 at 19:59

      Hi Kris! Yes, the Flapjack Lakes trail is in Olympic National Park. The trailhead is at Staircase Ranger Station, at the very southeast corner of the Park.

      ONP has a webpage about the Flapjack Lakes trail , but it’s a little misleading. It’s eight miles to Flapjack Lakes from the trailhead; the first four miles go along the North Fork Skokomish River Trail , and then you turn off and start climbing in earnest.

      As I hinted in my entry, the first four miles are pretty easy. The second four are harder, and the last half-mile is a kick in the pants, especially because at that point you’ve hiked 7.5 miles already. Funny enough, my legs were chugging along great, but my feet were thinking hard about mutiny.

  • John 16 Oct 2007 at 14:04

    The small bird is a grouse. Probably a blue grouse.