What is wrong with me? What the heck was I thinking? I swore to myself back in July of 2006 never to ever do this trail again. I hated it. It was pure misery. I swore more times on it than I did watching (fill in your favorite team or politician) lose.
It was back then while researching Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula that I finally forced myself to hike to the Mildred Lakes. I was well aware of its reputation. And upon completing it I thought it would be once and done. Or so I thought!
Here I am working on the second edition of that book and aside from adding new hikes-I am re-hiking all of the original hikes to make sure that you are getting nothing but accurate information in my books. So, I found myself heading back up to the Mildred Lakes—and on one of the hottest days of the summer too. Mind as well really beat myself up!
And what did I find upon putting myself in complete agony for the day? Nothing really has changed on this trail! It is still the hardest, nastiest, you-have-to-be-crazy-for hiking-this trail in the Olympics!
- It is only 4.5 miles to the lakes-yet it took me over 3 hours to reach them!
- Actual evaluation difference between trailhead and the lakes is a mere 1,900 feet. But real elevation gain is over 3200 feet with ups and downs.
- The trail was never officially built. The trailhead was-it is fancy with a picnic table and privy. Don’t let those amenities fool you into thinking the trail is anything special!
- There is one section that climbs over 1,000 feet in about 0.5 mile. It is a nasty clamber up roots, rock and loose gravel. Those roots will be your handholds.
- There is one section where you have to almost completely vertically drop over 25 feet into a tight ravine. Once again-veggie belays save the day.
- You will skirt mud-go through mud (and this is a dry summer) and go up and over big downed logs.
- Your knees and toes will scream.
And the lakes? They are pretty and among the largest in the Olympics and many a hiker loves them and busts their rump to get to them. But at a price!
How about you? Have you hiked to them? Love the trail? Hate the trail? Never-been-there but now are interested? Never-been-there and now have no interest what so ever to go?!