Photo Monday: Rampart Lakes

Today we are back in the Alpine Lakes wilderness on a very special overnight pack trip I did in late September. Why special? Well, this was not only a return to a place I dayhiked 30 years ago and vowed to revisit on another fall day, but it was my first solo backpacking trip in nearly as long--since I married in 1994. More significantly, it was my first solo backpack since losing my husband. It was kind of a test, because solo hiking is something I need to be able to do, given how hard it is to find trail partners who are a good match. I've been doing some car-camping alone (in transit to places, for the most part), so I was pretty sure I'd be fine, and I was.

Rachel, Rampart, and Lila Lakes

The hike was a single night, about 5 1/2 miles in (and 2300' up) past Rachel Lake to Rampart Lakes. The big attraction is the fall color--mostly in the form of mountain blueberries and a couple of other bushes that turn pretty brilliant colors.

The drive from Seattle is pretty short (around 1.5 hours), and the roads are good. The final miles are dirt but well maintained, so no abuse of the Prius this trip. Once on the trail, you start climbing, gently at first, then with serious intent.

At the start. My pack is small and light, for a single night in warm to moderate temperatures. Permits are self-issued at the TH. I suspect the lakes are crowded on weekends.

While walking the valley bottom, you can tell that you're going to have to climb at some point!

After a couple of miles the trail hits the end of the valley and starts up the headwall. The nice thing is that steeper terrain means waterfalls and cascades!

The first goal is Rachel Lake. There's good camping here for those who don't want to do the last 500' or so (very steep) with a full pack.

Rachel Lake. Rampart Lakes are on the next bench up.

The trail along the bench towards Rampart Lakes. Fall sun on fall color is already a reward for my effort.

I got to the lakes about 3:00, which is pretty much perfect in my book. Once upon a time I would have wanted to hike another couple of hours, but now I like to find the perfect camp and set up, take a dip in the lake (very quick dip--alpine lakes are cold!), and stroll around enjoying the late afternoon light before making dinner. 

Camp. Have I mentioned how much I love my super-light tent?

Out and about the lake area.

Mini-tripod and self timer on my camera.

Sunset. No clouds for color, but lots of smoke still in the air from the on-going fires, so I got red peaks. This was only a couple of weeks after the abortive trip to Dip Top Gap that got smoked out.

My campsite had a view to the east, so I also got a nice bit of sunrise light. I was up at first light, as usual.

Sometimes I do a lot of running around to get pictures and enjoy the low morning sun. Sometimes it's enough just to be in camp.

After breakfast I packed up, but on the way out I took a detour of a couple of miles to visit Lila Lake, in the other direction more or less along the same ridge.

Another fabulous meadow turning colors.

In the end, this was as far as I went--it looks like a really nice lake, though, and I'd go back.

That was pretty much the adventure. One night, two days, three lakes--Rachel, Rampart, and Lila. (Rampart is in fact plural--several lakes, tarns, and puddles, and Lila also appears to be at least two lakes). Hiked back out, drove home in time for dinner. Though the shorter days make for long nights, I consider fall to be the best time for hiking the mountains--no mosquitoes, colorful foliage, and days that are warm but seldom hot. Always with a bit of sorrow that the season is ending (I do not do winter camping. That's WAY too much darkness!), but happy that I'm getting in one more good hike.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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  1. Now you really are making me jealous. Glad you did okay. Looks wonderful.


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