Making Trails

the travel blog of Lauren Nishizaki

Hike to Foggy Lake

Washington, USA

Jake and I took an overnight backpacking trip to Foggy Lake in the Northern Cascades. The trailhead was on Mountain Loop Highway, not too far from the turn-off to White Pass.

Trailhead Barlow Pass Trailhead
Overnight campsite Foggy Lake
Roundtrip distance 10 miles
Total elevation gain 2800 ft

The hike started along a forest service road that runs next to the Sauk River. On the way out, we passed a team of friendly MCPA (Monte Cristo Preservation Association) workers who were clearing a new trail above a section of road that had fallen into the river.

We passed many waterfalls as we traversed the steep switchbacks. There was a significant amount of rock scrambling as well as two waterfalls/streams had to be crossed. The going was slowest when we had to traverse and ascend snowy slopes that covered what were presumably either switchbacks or rockfalls. The view from the top was worth it though!

As soon as we breached the last large climb, we were faced with nearly untouched swells of rocks covered in snow. There were two partially frozen small lakes nestled between the hills that we were very careful to skirt around. We tried following the footsteps left by previous hikers, but ended up having to forge our own trail to climb high enough to see Foggy Lake.

Foggy Lake was almost completely covered in snow. Around the time we reached the lake, the intermittent clouds cleared up. From some of the boulders on the edge of the lake, we could turn around and see mountains stretching hundreds of miles off into the distance.

We made camp on the shore of Foggy Lake. Because our tent requires stakes to stay up, we made ourselves a campsite on the snow. We got to experience the effort required to pack down the snow in a tent-sized rectangle, and the difficulties with getting that patch of snow flat, not just smooth! After a night of bad sleep, we gave ourselves a failing grade on the flatness test (we ended up sleeping with our feet slightly higher than our heads, which, as it turns out, is not conducive to a good night’s sleep).

Before the sun set, I gave our friend Ruby a mini photoshoot (pictured above in front of Gothic Peak). Ruby is the well-travelled mountain goat that we picked up on the trail; her human friend Sue passed us on her way down from the peak, and asked that we please keep our eyes peeled for the lost goat. Back in Seattle we arranged Ruby’s postage home and in the process learned that she has been to the Enchantments, Eldorado Peak, and the Summit of the Tooth.

It wasn’t long after the sun set that the fog started rolling in. By the time we finished up dinner and s’mores, visibility was almost zilch, the wind had started to pick up, and the clouds started to rain. The rain continued for the remainder of the trip, until we made it back to Seattle.

We glissaded down snowy slopes while equipped with ice axes (but only when the slope ended in trees and not a cliff). The further down we went, the heavier everything became. Halfway down the mountain, we both were noting loud squelches of feet/socks with each step. Two-thirds of the way back to the car, I noticed that my water-resistant pants had allowed my long underwear to become soaked. By the time we made it back to the car, my waterproof rain jacket was damp on the inside. We were cold and wet, but counted it a successful trip.