Monday, August 11, 2014

Camping at Wynoochee Lake

Back in January (before I changed my hiking list several more times), I made plans to camp at Lake Wynoochee with some friends and then hike the loop around the lake. I had never heard of Lake Wynoochee, but I figured, hey, it's camping at a lake and even if it's not that great of a lake, we are still going to be camping, so it's going to be awesome. And it was!

The lake is tucked back into the Olympic National Forest, about 34 miles from the nearest town of Montesano. The lake was created when they dammed the Wynoochee River in 1972 to provide flood control for the city of Aberdeen, but wasn't used for hydroelectric power until 1994. The Coho Campground on the shores of the lake was created for picnicking and camping.

I had never been there before, but I picked a site that was a walk-in at the far end of the walk-in sites, where I hoped that it would be quieter and less traveled, and it definitely was. The site was huge since it's capacity was for 12 people, but it was perfect for the 4 of us. The site is at the end of a short paved trail that made transferring our gear rather easy, although we made a mental note to bring a hand cart for the cooler since that was the heaviest item.

The lake had a nice little beach and swimming area where we lounged for several hours on both days. I waded in a little bit since the water was clear and I could see the bottom. Mark swam out to the line while Tonya enjoyed laying on her neon float. Kids and adults were swimming and barbequeing, but it wasn't very loud. After dinner, we enjoyed a nice sunset stroll to the dam and around the campground, then finished off the night with smores and a sleepy fireplace circle.

The next morning, Mark and I slept in while Tina wandered around and Tonya went fishing. All that talk about fishing has made me really want to get my fishing license again! We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast with lots of coffee for them and tea for me, then headed out on our hike. The hike around the lake is a long 16.5 miles, but I only wanted to do 3 miles to the first creek crossing since it was already getting hot out. We found where the other walk-in campground is, but decided our spot was much better. Soon after that, the trail became rather overgrown with salmonberries, salal and unfortunately, nettles. All of us got hit, but we later soothed our legs in the lake.

Check out wasn't until 2 pm, which was nice, but even after we packed up, we didn't want to leave. So we lounged at the lake a bit more. I suffered from some heat exhaustion, and was perfectly happy sitting in the shade while the other 3 relaxed in the sun. We finally packed up around 4 pm and headed home. We stopped at the Ranchhouse BBQ for some dinner and it was oh my gosh delicious. I had the brisket sandwich with garlic fries and beans, and split an ear of corn with Mark. I definitely recommend the place if you are on your way to the coast and need a bite to eat just outside of Olympia.

Overall, it was a great camping trip and I want to go back to that lake again next year. I have the serious camping bug and now I am planning as many camping trips as I can!

Where do you like to go camping?

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