This past 4th of July I completed what I consider to be my first real backpacking experience…and I loved it. For two nights and three days Bryan and I headed to Eastern Washington with just a bag each of supplies to sustain and comfort us. Our destination, we picked out Thursday night, was to climb Pyramid Mountain, just southwest of Lake Chelan in the Wenatchee National Park. Our drive was about 4 hours away.
We packed each of our bags the night before. In my bag I carried:
- My sleeping bag
- My sleeping pad
- Tent stakes
- Extra pair of pants
- Extra pair of shorts
- Extra 2 pairs of socks
- Extra pair of undies
- Extra sports bra
- Extra shirt
- Down jacket
- Rain jacket
- Trail food
- One liter of water
- Camp mug and spoon
- Some food for dinner and breakfast
- Flip flops
Bryan’s pack was similar with the exception that he also carried the one pound tent, 2 extra liters of water, the camp stove and fuel, and the gravity-filter water bag.
We had a stellar and filling breakfast at the top-rated Wild Huckleberry in Wenatchee, each getting an omelet and one single pancake. These pancakes were HUGE and we each only ate about half despite each challenging the other to finish it! Bryan selected huckleberry and I got blueberry. We also stopped at Grocery Outlet for the rest of the food for dinner and snacks that we needed and stopped at the cutest little cherry stand for $1/lb amazing Rainier cherries that ended up making the best snack on the trail.
We arrived at the trailhead at 2pm. We set out on the trail at 2:30pm. The first 1.25 miles to the first trail junction was very flat and the forest was somewhat destroyed by wildfires. It wasn’t the most beautiful forest and I think we were questioning our choice of destination at this point. The next 2 miles to the next trail junction had more uphill climbing, a few river crossings where we took off our shoes, and the forest was much more beautiful. Our last 2 miles of the day was very steep. I was starting to fatigue a bit but we were slowly gaining more height and getting out of dense forest and into more grasses with wildflowers. By the time we got to the top of that bluff we had a great view of the surrounding mountains and even Rainier in the background. We could also clearly see the mountain we would be climbing the next day. We scored a sweet campsite with a little fire ring. By Bryan’s third tent stake in the ground I had fire! Our first night we had a phenomenal dinner of a bag of Tyson frozen grilled chicken mixed with a Hamburger Helper fettucine alfredo packet. We shared dinner out of one pot with one spoon. We finished off the night with hot cocoa and boiling water for hot water bottles to sleep with before going to bed around 10pm, just as the sun was setting.
Saturday morning we slept in until about 9am. We boiled hot water for instant coffee and chai tea and shared a large bowl of instant maple brown sugar oats. We packed up camp and set off for Day 2. Day 2 was our longest day. We hit trail at around 10am and we had varying downhill and uphill climbs until we got to the pass. At the pass we stopped for a quick drink and snack with marvelous views of Lake Chelan. We could see a few boats and the deep blue waters of the clear lake. We then had about 30 minutes more (saw a porcupine) before we reached the trailhead at the base of the mountain. We dropped our bags and carried just our food, water and jackets in my smaller pack. The 1800 foot climb to the top was pretty good. We were mostly above treeline and the incline was pretty gradual. There were a lot of wildflowers and a few patches of snow to cross, which were definitely the hottest portions of the trail with the sun reflecting off of the surface. We saw 5 mountain goats at the very peak of the mountain which were fortunately gone by the time we arrived. We got to the top of Pyramid right at 2 pm. We had an awesome view of so many mountains, Lake Chelan, and we had it to ourselves. The wind was very gentle and we took our time taking it in, snacking, and drinking water.
After about an hour we started the long decline back to the trail junction, grabbed our bags, and made our way about another 1/2 mile to were we set up camp for our 2nd night.
Our 2nd night’s campsite was an official one with an official name, Three Trees. There was a horse corral, two stumps for stools, a log bench and rock “kitchen”, and a bear box. We were 20 feet away from a large creek for our water source. I again made the fire and for Saturday’s dinner we made curried lentils with chicken sausage. It was delicious and filling and exactly what we needed. We again finished the night with hot cocoas and pretzel M&Ms. We also saw a buck that came right up to our campsite and lingered for quite a while.
Sunday morning we awoke at about 8am. We took our time at camp, making our coffees and chai and apple cinnamon oatmeal, and having breakfast in the sun. It was a beautiful morning and from our site we could see and hear the creek and sit in a beautiful pasture. We packed up camp one more time before setting off for our downhill exit. We had 5 more miles of decreasing elevation and crossing a few creeks, shoes kept on. We made it back to the car just after noon, and the day was definitely getting hotter. We just had the drive back in the sun and radio, a quick stop at Burger King for food, and getting back to Seattle around 5pm to take the most amazing showers ever and order in Thai food from Fishcake Factory and watch Tombstone.
An excellent Fourth of July weekend away. I did miss the cottage and family dearly but I also enjoyed the experience in the wild.