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Trip Report

Lake Valhalla — Saturday, Sep. 26, 2009

Central Cascades

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Type of Hike

Day hike
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Lake Valhalla, so when friends suggested meeting there for lunch, I was boots-on. We arrived at Smithbrook TH (#1590) to find the parking lot almost full; everyone had the same idea on this beautiful fall day. Drew and I made quick work of the switchbacks, pausing to identify various plants and fungi (a surprising variety, considering the lack of rain recently). As we continued toward the PCT junction, we discovered a lovely subalpine bog-meadow along a side trail, full of fall color. Once on the ridge, the chilly breeze kept us moving, but the views were spectacular, with the foliage practically glowing in the sunlight. Alas, the berries are pretty much gone (we only found a meager handful) - but then, so are the bugs. Soon Mt Lichtenberg was in sight, and then the lake. Dazzling! We saw a few folks camped in the meadow, and met the rest of our party by the lake for lunch and laughter. The cool breeze kept us from lingering too long by the lake, and by 2:00 everyone headed out - some to Stevens Pass, others continuing a through-hike, and a few of us back to Smithbrook (RT of 6 miles). While there were a lot of folks visiting Lake Valhalla today, neither the trails nor the lake felt crowded. The trails in this area are in great shape, and the fall foliage is just beginning its display, so this is a great time to visit, before the wet and winter set in. Footnote: Two friends camped last night (Sept. 25) at Lichtenwasser Lake, and they reported that trail was fairly challenging, esp. with 50-lb packs - quite steep (grade of 40-66% in a few places!), muddy in spots, and a bit overgrown. They were able to get in some fishing, but the cold front that blew in overnight with the threat of rain induced them to head out at first light.