I am a rainy day hiker. Living in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains, you either deal with the weather, or you hike during the summer. And by summer, I mean the few weeks it decides not to rain…as much. The last couple years have been dryer than usual, but these things go in cycles and consequently, I own a bit of rain gear.
The day we hiked up to Mink Lake in the Sol Duc Valley was not only a rainy day; it was a freezing cold, not-quite-snow sort of day. The type of day I get a wild hair and think to myself, “If we get high enough in the hills, we could play in the snow!” So I convinced my husband that a little while slogging on the trail in the frozen pellet rain would be worth it and up to the Mink Lake trailhead we went.
I was so happy to be out and in the woods, I fairly bounced up the soaking wet trail. It wasn’t long before I started seeing pay off as the rain became more solid, quarter mile by quarter mile.
Fairly soon, it was no longer raining and the woods took cover under the snow. Now I was in heaven and there may have been skipping involved.
One of the reasons I picked Mink Lake was because of the shelter. I knew we could warm up with some hot cocoa mixed with coffee and I brought my full kit with us. Sitting in the shelter, steaming hot drink in hand, watching the snow fall thru the silence… Yes, perfect!
Knowing that we would be dealing with both rain and cold, we had bundled up appropriately with rain gear and with down jackets secured in our packs, safe from the rain. Warmed up, I wandered the camp area, exploring.
Mink Lake wasn’t frozen at all, but there wasn’t any fowl braving it, either.
I found a mushroom desperately trying to hang on to Autumn. The snow would surely cover it completely in the next few hours.
With a last peek at the lake as we switched out down for lighter layers, we headed back to the car that was waiting in the rain. We gained some solitude and fresh air, and no little amount of happiness, that warmed my heart from this quick trip out.
The Sol Duc has many gems hiding in its valley. It truly is worth a visit to explore…