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Paddy Go Easy Pass and Sprite Lake #1595.1

Aug 25, 2005

by Sadie's Driver last modified Nov 09, 2011 10:35 AM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Paddy-Go-Easy Pass
Region: Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Agency: Cle Elum Ranger District
Trails: Paddy Go Easy Pass (#1595.1)
Avg Rating: 3.14
Be Aware Of
Bugs

Boring, boring, boring. Sadie wanted to get out of the I-90 rut and find a new trail to explore for a mid-week hike. Since we had done the huckleberry thing last week, we were in the mood for just a nice hike - not too long, some good elevation and, of course, a lake to jump into. Well, Paddy-Go-Easy seemed like the ticket. It was supposed to get up into the high 80's in Seattle today, who knows what it would be like on the ""dry side""? We actually got a little late start (errands) - so we left Seattle about 9:00 a.m. and after a stop in Cle Elum (gas and a disposable camera - you know who left the digital on the counter), we got to the trailhead about 11:45 a.m. A few things to note about getting to the trailhead. Take exit 80 off of I-90 and head to Roslyn. Now that the place has gone up-scale and there's a new ""planned community"" - the road is a little different than the Alpine Lakes Book says. Anyway, there are two (in Roslyn?) traffic circles before you get to Roslyn. Basically, just keeping following the arrows that say to Roslyn - you still want to be on HWY 930. Go through Roslyn (First to Nevada) and head on out to Ronald (watch your speed through here!). Continue on as the road becomes the Salmon la Sac road. Go past the Cle Elum Reservoir (it's down to almost nothing). Just before the Salmon la Sac campground and BEFORE you cross the one-lane bridge over the Cle Elum river, go right on the Tucquala Lake (formerly Fish Lake) Road (4330 - but it's not marked as FS 4330) it will be the fork on your right. Go about 10.5 miles to the Fish Lake Guard Station - the road's in good shape, dusty right now. Go another (almost) mile to the trailhead 1595.1. We were the only car at the trailhead. Now, I don't know who Paddy is and I don't have a clue how he came up with the ""Go Easy"" part, must have been well-lubricated with some fine Irish Whiskey - but you will get a work-out on this trail. It's don't difficult, but it will get your heart pumping. I recommend you take your hiking poles - on the way up, it's a great aerobic outlet and, on the way down, your knees will thank you! It's a hard trail to run consistently due to the scree and other rocks along the way - but there are spots you can run. Now, since we really weren't in search of huckleberries, I was concerned that the berries were pretty much dried up - at least at the beginning of the trail. There are still a few - but stick with me here, more to follow. The first mile is pretty straightforward and not particularly thrilling. You are in the trees (white pine? tammarck?). The only real water available is about at 1/2 mile - a little creek (and at the start of the trail) - Sadie was glad for that. Now, there is some water/mud on the trail but no real drinking water - so, be sure and take plenty - especially some for your 4-legged friend(s). You stay in the trees until about 2 1/4 miles - and then you start breaking out into more open areas and a series of several open grassy hillsides. These are pretty toasty in the late afternoon! The book talks about a side trail that goes by an old mining operation - we didn't opt for that route but stuck to the 800' vertical/mile. After the first mile, you start running into some great patches of ""thimbleberries"" - at least that's what I call them, or red caps (that's what we called them when I was a kid). They are in various stages of ripe. At about mile 3 you are back into the trees and that's where the huckleberries are much more plentiful (nothing like on Stevens Pass this year, however!). A little secret, the berries are much sweeter on the dry side - better sun. Now about 1/4 mile before the ""real"" Pass, you will come upon a ledge with some great views of the valley and Tucquala Lake; Mt. Rainier and the Stewart range and Cathedral Rock - fabulous. Take your photos. The real Pass doesn't have as much panorama. When you get up to the pass (a meadow actually) you will come upon a sign that warns you ""No Campfires - even at Sprite Lake"" and another sign that says ""No Pack or Saddle Stock within 200 feet of the lake"". At this sign the trail is a little obscure - but keep heading east (straight really) and angle to your left (north) a little and in about 25' you will see the main trail. It continues on for about 1/4 mile - but look carefully - because you will want to take the spur to the right (south) at that point. You won't see the lake, but you will see a ""notch"" in the slight incline to the south and a couple of rock peaks beyond. That's where you want to go. When you reach that notch, you will be able to see the beautiful little Sprite Lake. You have to drop about 100', but it's worth it!!! The lake is down quite a bit right now, but it's still a wonderful respite on a hot August afternoon. Now, here at the lake there are a ton of ""low bush/ground"" huckleberries. Pick away - if you're camping, save some for breakfast. Sadie and I had a lovely swim - a bit brisk, but felt oh so good. The bugs aren't terrible - there was a breeze, but they are around and irritating. At least we didn't run into any angry bees/hornets/yellow jackets. After lunch and a little picking (couldn't resist) we headed back to the car and got there about 3:20 p.m. A nice little 8 miles on a Thursday afternoon. Didn't see anyone else - well except for some squirrels - the 4-legged variety.

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Paddy Go Easy Pass and Sprite Lake #1595.1

Posted by johnstratarrow at Nov 09, 2011 10:35 AM
I first hiked up to Sprite Lake when I was twelve years old with my Boy Scout troop (124). That would have been late in the summer of 1961. At the time there were still some old mining artifacts and evidence of mining off to the left just short of Paddy-go-easy pass (I heard "Paddy-Go-Easy" was supposed to be sarcasm because of the difficulty of the trail). At the pass we followed a deep, narrow ravine in the low undergrowth which constitutes the trail to the break in the rocks above the lake. I can still remember my reaction when I first saw Sprite Lake. I was enamored. I'd never seen anything so beautiful in my life. We hiked down to the area on the East end of the lake where we made our camp close to the water outflow. There was still snow on the south rock-slide which feeds the lake, so a trickle of water was coming out and flowing down the mountain. In those days we used to get our water from the rivers and lakes where we camped, never considering giardia. We may have been afflicted by it, but it wasn't a well-known concern. If anyone was very worried about the water quality we would sometimes use those old army surplus iodine tablets (bleah). In my later years of hiking and climbing around the Cascades and Olympics on my own, and with the Mountaineers, I always carried either tablets, a water purifier or boiled snow.
When I was 15, my parents dropped me and two friends off at the Fish Lake guard station where we walked and hitch-hiked to the trail-head. We actually caught several trout out of the lake that weekend. Both times in both '61 and '64 we saw no other people there. Not a soul.
When I returned from military service in August of 1973, my brother and I hiked to Sprite. As we crested the hill we were confronted an unexpected scene: a crowd of people. Tents were everywhere, accompanied by people attired in the latest outdoor wear from a new store called REI.
Sprite Lake always seemed to me to be epitome of hiking in the Cascades. It embodies all the elements of the perfect hike: a somewhat arduous climb, consistent beautiful vistas of the valley below and surrounding mountains as you gain altitude, an ever-changing vegetation environment from thick pine and fir forests to alpine meadows, and the final reward of an ice cold crystalline clear lake.
I hope to go back someday in some form, since I've asked that my ashes be spread there when I die.
So, one way or another, I'll reside in heaven.
Thanks,
John Lewis
Santa Rosa, CA

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