It was mid-September 2009. I knew I was hiking on borrowed time – if I were to see a set of lakes I lusted after, it was go then, or wait maybe years to get back. I was also a couple of months pregnant and on my slope to anemia-ville. It wasn’t a long hike but it was hard (for me). I made it though. We did it on sketchy trip reports we had found online and looking at maps for the lay of the land – but more so I stood across a valley and studied the hillsides, looking for where the faint boot path snaked up it. Well gee, turns out it was in a couple of books (2 to be exact I have found), but neither were well-known tomes.
Recently I came across a copy of Mt. Rainier Trails, published in 2006, apparently out of print now. Well, Deadwood Lakes are covered on pages 133-135. Does the author make it easy to find them? Not really. And that is OK. It would be a wonderful thing if it was a real trail someday but the cost I am sure is prohibitive, and it does keep a small gem tucked away for those willing to find it. It starts in National Forest land, right off the PCT, crossing into Mt. Rainier National Park at the pass, over a ridge. A small NP sign is in the flat pass (the pass itself is quite nice), marking the change.
Looking down at the upper of the two lakes, I was so happy I had found the energy to keep going. In the far distance is Sourdough Ridge, which leads one to Sunrise at Rainier, the road is quite visible.
We kept hiking and followed a boot path long worn by fishermen, to both lakes, which are close together. The second lake was lonely and quite large. I remember sitting on its shaded sandy beach and I could see a creek running through the middle of the lake, as the two lakes quickly head downhill (the creek is crossed on the highway not many miles below, down a ravine).
Something about wandering in early fall and not seeing anyone else made it sweeter.
Hidden gems do exist, sometimes you have to read a lot, study and hope it is worth it 😉 And don’t overlook guide books that are not the snazziest looking……