Even though I've been talking all this trash lately about throwing plans to the wayside and living life spontaneously, I have to pat my past-self on the back for thinking ahead and booking an amazing campsite at Takhlakh Lake for Labor Day weekend. When I returned from Arizona last March, I was bumming so hard about Seattle and the overarching feeling of being stuck. I hopped online the first day I was back at work and booked multiple camp sites-aka mini escapes-for the summer. Takhlakh Lake Campground is one I had never come across before, but it came highly recommended as a gorgeous and tucked away site at the base of Mt. Adams.
Well, it wasn't easy to access but it was sure as hell tucked away! Especially because I-23, the direct road there from the east side of Rainier, has apparently been washed out for years. We discovered this when we rolled up on the literal edge of a long road to nowhere, sans wi-fi or phone connection, and came face to face with a group of toothless old men swigging beers and bullshitting. "That road's been washed out for years!" One guy proclaimed. We told them where we intended to end up. "Hmmm, never heard of it. I don't know these parts very well. I mostly ride around, shooting deer."
We pulled a U-turn and drove back to the nearest town, Randle, which had a local ranger's office. It was literally 4:32 when we pulled into their parking lot, just past closing time, but the kind ladies let us in and provided some extremely sketchy, poorly written navigation on a paper map....
Off we went! Recreation.gov had the wrong directions. Waze had the wrong directions. Apparently, Takhlakh is for the foolhardy and adventurous only. After 2 hours of driving on extremely bumpy back roads within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, we finally came upon the campsite. I have NEVER seen mountain views this clear and unobstructed at a campsite. Mt. Adams (elevation 12,281 ft: not too shabby at all in comparison to its neighbor Rainier at 14,410) sits squarely in front of the lake. Similar to Mt. Rainier, Adams is a potentially active strato volcano.
|Hazel testing the waters
All in all, we left Seattle around 11am and showed up just in time to catch the beginning of Sunset at Takhlakh at 630pm. To be fair, about an hour of our travel time was actually spent in the town of Packwood, which was having a Labor Day festival. Soooo much food, such good tamales!
The next morning, I set my alarm for 5:50 to catch sunrise. I absolutely love watching the sun rise and set when I camp. It's an intrinsic part of the experience in my opinion. It's something I always look forward to, and I really want to start doing sunrise hikes more often.
|Sunset, night 2
|Couple of Happy Campers