Solo Hiking Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Just east of Seattle exists a picturesque wonderland of glacial lakes and wild goat herds
Canon 7D Mk II
It's no secret that Washington holds some of the most beautiful scenery and alpine environments in the lower 48, however these zones can be a trek to get into, as this trip was.
Located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness just a couple hours east of Seattle a small couple of lakes exists, rumored to have incredible sunset scenery sprinkled in with a colony of very mellow mountain goats. As last summer went on, weather, friends, schedules, etc all failed to align for the perfect trip, so I made the decision to see for myself, by myself. Now, I’m not usually that kind of adventurer—I’ll usually forgo a trip if I do not have somebody to share the experience with, even if it is safe to go solo—but I knew this was one not to put off.
Pro Tip for hiking solo: take lots of naps in sunny spots, pack tons of treats, and listen to podcasts
Once in the area I searched all of day one for the mountain goats I had heard so much about, but couldn’t seem to locate them until late in afternoon I spied a couple across the lake, laying on the glacier snow, staying cool in the hot summer heat. With that checked off the list I set up camp—an air mattress on the grassy edge of the lake with a view of Mt. Daniel at sunset and sunrise. Hard to beat.
Somewhat frightening, I awoke to goats everywhere, all around me. Turns out, the wilderness area is so popular (USFS estimates upwards of 150,000 people visit each year) there’s no need to search for the goats, they’ll come to you. Apparently they like the salt in your pee, so they eat the grass around camp, and in some cases will even get friendly enough to try and catch it straight from the source. . . if you know what I mean.
I spent most of the morning of day two following these goats around the like a shepherd does his flock. I even ate lunch on a rock while one grazed beside me. Never have I been so close to such wild yet docile animals, it was truly impressive.
Once my adopted flock took to the glaciers I packed up and head down the mountain. What a beautiful and bizarre experience.