Making it up as I go along.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
Google Maps has a
decent satellite image of the Staircase area.
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
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
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.?
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.