Rainy Daze ~ Dewy Lake and Sheep Lake

“The best thing you can do when its raining, is let it rain.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When we have an adventure planned and the forecast attempts to foray its way into our fun I often spend days fretting about it. Should we go? Should we not? If we go, how likely is it that it will rain? And if it rains, how long will it last? Will there be sunshine that follows, to soak up all the wet – or will we be lugging out wet tents and grumpy kids and a mad mess to deal with then we get home?

This is a tale in two parts; two trails that share a start but venture off in opposite directions, to two pretty lakes, and popular destinations. One is down. The other is up. Neither are too hard or too far or too rough. And neither lasted as long as we had hoped because both involved a foray of rain.

What I have learned from both is that an adventure is an adventure no matter how long it lasts. And no matter how much you fret, the rain will come or it will not. We don’t get think our way around it. But definitely bring a Kelty Shelter tarp just in case:)

AND ~ any amount of time in the wild, no matter how wet, or short, is time well spent.

**There is no where else in the world where a rangel of teenagers will sit for hours and just hang out with their parents. Where hang-man, however socially inappropriate it might be these days, can roll on for hours and Uno wars rumble relentlessly behind tent walls. Where tiny spaces in wide open places can transport us all back in time, to simpler days in the most magical ways.

Part 1

Dewy Lake is nicely nestled just outside of the Mt Rainier National Forest, which means you do not need a permit to sleep there. We had a couple kiddos who were packing in for the first time and one of them was only 9 years old. So I was looking for something pretty on the eyes and pretty easy on the feet. And Dewy is exactly that. Its a sweet little jaunt from Naches Pass down to Dewy and, if the weather is nice, its totally worth it to complete the loop hike up above on your way out.

As we started our 2-night adventure I did what I always do and made the first two car loads of kiddos wake up early so we could be on the trail by 7:30 a.m.. We needed to be able to find two camp spots relatively close together and I didn’t want to deplete our chances by rolling in late.
The dads and a couple of the older kids had to work. So, the first crew in consisted of three moms and seven kids ranging from 9years old to 19:)
This is Hads (my daughter) and Cay (my niece) ~ who don’t like their pictures taken.
But, I take them anyways:)
And these are the dudes. The smirky kid off to the left is my son, who I had to force to come. Drew and Liam are sitting on the ledge there and Blake on the right is about to head back to college in week or so. Liam joined my son Chase, in the ‘Not A Fan Of This Hike Club’. But Drew and his brother Blake were newer to the backpacking game and happy to be on the wild side of things.
At about a mile and half the trail splits. You can stay to the right and complete the pretty loop up above or turn left and head on down to Dewy. We bent to the left and headed down, much to little Bs delight.
Once you get down to the lake you can go left or right all the way around the lake and have your pick at the plentiful established campsites. You are not suppose to camp within 100 feet of the lake, so the tent spots are tucked up in the tall timbers but, most of the spots have great beach areas so you can spend your daylight hours hanging out by the water’s edge.
I wanted to get to the other end of the lake where you can actually see Mt Rainier on a clear day, so we went counter-clockwise around the lake to see what we could find.
We got lucky an found two sites near the end of Dewy, with lots of room to spread out. The parents took over one and the kids took over the other. This is the cool kids camp.
And this is our pretty little beach area.
9 years old is the golden age of camping. Brooke roamed around playing games, collecting wild flowers and mingling with the butterflies and hummingbirds. Her entertainment was woven into the natural wonders all around her.
There was some complaining along the way as well. But, even that was well worth the hours we spent all huddled together in a circle talking the day away and hanging stick men over letters lost. There is no other place on earth where three moms and most of their kids will just spend the day together like this. Bored perhaps:) But bonding all the same.
And we carried it out flawlessly, minus one little toot and a few giggles.
Our late arrivals didn’t buy it, but I think they enjoyed it.
And we certainly did!
The one thing everyone could not wait for was dinner. So, the next thing we did was boil lots and lots of water.
Dinner ‘Out’.

Shenanigans.

This is my Mattsi and her cousin Trev, who both strolled in late with Matti’s boyfriend Jake. Matti is just finishing up her testing to be a Master Esthetician and this is their mountain fresh water cleanse:)
Unfortunately, at around 3am it started to rain. Hard. I woke up early with these two sibs and we huddled under our handy dandy kelty tarp, made coffee and pulled up weather reports on our Garmin satellite thingy-ma-jigs.
Soon these three cuties joined us and we started to talk about an early exit plan.
I walked over to the kids camp to assess the situation and discovered pools of pitter pattering water running wild and Uno wars running rampant (turn up the volume:).
We had one more group meeting and decided that the girls’ tent would likely never dry out, nor would our day. So we all agreed to turn our two-nighter into a one nighter and pack out in the rain.
But everyone was pretty terribly wet.
With Dewy hidden in a wet and woozy cloud we loaded up the last of our packs and headed out.
The climb out of Dewy is a bit of a doozy. But, Little B took it like a champ. With sodden and soaked packs and tents we decided to stick to the path that had lead us this way instead of finishing the Nachess Loop and popping out over at Tipsoo. Even in the shadow of clouds the rain kissed scenery was lovely and, once we were up above the lake once again, the tread was light and lovely as well.
Before Little B knew it, we were crossing back across that bridge that had led us to troubled waters, into the tamed world where dry clothes and sunshine and pizza were just hours away.

___________________________________________________________________

Part 2…

Just two weeks later my pretty sister, my nephew and his buddy wanted to venture off into the wild as well. My sister and the buddy had not backpacked before and the weather was looking pretty shoddy all over the place once again. So I found myself at the same trail head with a very similar weather outlook, only colder. I should have clued in when my sis asked me if I was bringing a coat or wearing shorts and asked if she could borrow a pair of sock:) But, I didn’t. So we rolled the dice against all of my inner voices and set off to see if we could survive for a night none the less.

Sheep Lake is also located just outside Mt Rain-ier National Park. You start at the same trail head just past Tipsoo, on your left, and hop on the trail just behind the pit toilets. This dirt path leads you along the road for a bit but even that is pleasant as it sets you up gazing out into the folding arms of the lush and lovely foothills. Then you tip left and amble into the forest as the trail gently leads you up to the quaint and quintessent Sheep Lake. It’s an even shorter hike and a smaller lake with maybe six camp spots along its shores and a few more off up in the trees. And I’ve heard, on sunnier days, it’s hard to find a spot to call your own.

But, this day was not sunny:) We stepped out of the car into frigid temps and a cloudy mist. So we piled on the puffy coats and put on our best faces and headed off into the gray unknown.
We were so socked-in we couldn’t see past the road as we ambled up the dirt path.
But, after just a bit the nebulous nicely lifted, just a bit, so we could see down into the emerald valley below.
Josh (my nephew) has packed in with me before, but his buddy Bryson (on the right) was new to packing in to camp. The two blazed ahead of us none the less on this easy path, stopping now and again to let us catch up.
Before we knew it, Sheep Lake showed up, all modest and magical.
But, the day just kept on getting darker and colder and wetter:)
After some time in our tents we gathered under cover once again to see how everyone was feeling. And the general consensus was ‘cold’ and ‘wet’. Sister was wearing every piece of clothing she had brought and both of the boys were already out of dry socks. The reports the Garmin was pulling up were not very encouraging. And although the company was great and we laughed a lot, continuing to sit in the rain for another seven hours before dark didn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.
So, we improvised and had dinner for lunch.
And then packed up.
And headed out.
Back to the road that would lead us home.
I love my sister. She’s not your typical dirt path gal. But she loves the idea of it and she wants her boys to experience all the wonders of the wild. And she’s willing to go the extra mile and risk the rain and chill and messy work of getting there and getting back to make it happen. This was a 9 hour adventure from home,to the trail, to the lake and back home again. But it was a grand adventure all the same. And I loved it.

Sometimes the wild is wet. Would I choose it to be that way? Goodness no. It makes life messy and the load we carry heavy. But, “things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out” (John Wooden). And so, in the end, this is a tale in two parts – about some people who made the best of a wet situation. And a girl who is so very blessed to call those people her own.

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