North Fork Skokomish River and Flapjack Lakes, Black and White Lakes Primitive
Aug 19, 2011
We finally made it into the alpine this year during this trip. Along with a lot of other hikers stuck in the lower elevations due to the year's incredible late snow pack, we had to wait unti mid-August to do this one. We did order some microspikes for our boots to deal with the high alpine scramble up Gladys Divide but they didn't arrive in the mail on their scheduled date prior to us leaving for this trip. Anyhow, we hit the trail around 9:45 Friday morning. The 4.0 mile trail along the Skokomish was in flawless condition, as it usually is, and we turned right onto the Flapjack Lakes trail at 11:20. The Flapjack Lakes trail was also in perfect condition and included the brand spanking new Madeline Creek Bridge. There are some great spots to take a break and cool off when you get within about a half mile of the Black & White Lakes / Flapjack Lakes trail junction. They are some nice waterfalls there that keep the air misty and cool plus they're well shaded. After about ten minutes and a few nice pictures there, we shoved off. We decided we were finally going to hit Black & White Lakes this time so we turned left at the trail sign / junction. You're pretty much made aware immediately the difference between the more well traveled Flapjack Lakes trail and the 'primitive trail' up to Black & White Lakes. It's pretty steep, relentless, and in parts is definitely primitive. The TOPO map indicates the lakes are .8 miles from the trails junction but we were both scratching our heads - it seemed like a LONG .8 miles!! And no one ever mentioned some of the traverses that can definitely grab your attention. The trail is a little sloped downhill as you cross them, is pretty narrow (about 6" wide), and there'd be hell to pay if you went over the edge at any of 7 or 8 there. After crossing those, the trail swings around and continues to climb up a ridge. You'll know you're getting close to the lakes when you see the trail sign indicating the primitive way-trail heading left back down 3500' to the Skokomish River trail and straight to Black & White Lakes. The sun was pounding down on us pretty much in earnest at that point so we were still trying to maintain a solid pace. You'll climb one more solid ridge after the sign then earn the shore of the first and bigger lake. There are no signs indicating designated campsites or privies or bear wires. We only found one site that appeared to be an actual spot and there are no bear wires or privy. We brought out bear canister. Some idiots that must have left right before us scarred the campsite with a fire (none allowed over 3500' and the site is over 5000' elevation) and they left a sorry excuse for a cat hole with a bunch of used toilet paper on the ridge right across from the spot. We scrambled around the lake looking for a site that might have some shade (none available at the site) but found nothing. So we set up camp there. We both agreed the views there were by far superior to those at Flapjack Lakes. It's more open and is more of an alpine setting as opposed to a forested setting at Flapjacks. We took off in the morning pretty early towards the next camp spot at Flapjack Lakes. The hike to the next lakes was actually not bad at all and took us about 1.5 hours. We set up at Flapjacks, relaxed, went fishing for awhile (caught a pretty big Eastern Brook Trout) then filled up the daypack with water / snacks and headed up towards Gladys Divide. The trail gave way to snow about a quarter mile before the pass. But the sun was out, it was well into the afternoon and the snow was really soft so traction with just the boots and trekking poles presented no challenges at all. The views up on the Divide were absolutely incredible and well worth the pleasant walk up there. We took off the next day at 9AM for the trailhead and made it by 12:30. It was a perfect trip. Black flies and mosquitoes made their presence known but really were never that bad.