Traffic on popular hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest, especially mid-Saturday, sometimes replicates rush hour on the roads back in the cities. This hike appeared to be popular. Cars lined the sides of the gravel road approaching the parking lot, and we hoped we weren't still a mile out from the lot. Turns out it was around the corner and we found a spot just fine. When we stepped out of the car we were reminded that we'd be also doing this hike during the hottest part of the day. Ah... late starts. We rucked up and headed out in the thick of foot traffic.
The trail starts off along the babbling waterfalls of Humpback Creek, meandering through a small stretch of woods, past some powerlines, and then across Iron Horse Trail before things settle down a bit. Through occasional openings along the mostly sidehilling hike we could see the long ridge of Humpback Mountain paralleling our path and the valley where Humpback Creek runs. A run of switchbacks brings you to the home stretch where, as the vegetation slowly takes on the lakeside appearance, you might find yourself thinking "this must be it" a number of times. Eventually, if you just keep walking, you will reach "it."
We found a nice campsite in a stand of trees on the east shore of the lake. Right on the water, with a beautiful view of Abiel Peak to the south, from which snow was melting and pouring down a couple waterfalls into the lake, and Humpback Mountain across from us to the west. Fellow hikers provided most of the action around camp during the days. A couple little critters did show their faces, though. One particular chipmunk, in its quest for food, ran right across the foot of one of our group and put a little fright into him.
Location and Trail Summary
Dense forest drapes the lower trail, keeping hikers cool on the hottest August afternoons. At trail's end, a deep lake waits to kill off the last of the summer heat--for those brave enough to dive into its icy waters. Between the thick second-growth forest stands and the high alpine lake, the trail rolls along Humpback Creek, offering tantalizing views now and again of pretty waterfalls along the tumbling creek.