Our Life in the Pacific Northwest

Kelcema Lake Hike

Kelcema Lake

Mountain Loop Hwy/Verlot

August 14th 2007

 

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We have had our eye on this hike for quite some time. My friend and I have been trying to find the perfect hike for our kids to experience their first overnight backpacking experience. This hike is quite short with low elevation gain, which is perfect for younger kids who have never hiked in with gear before. Luckily, we thought we would take the afternoon to check it out before choosing it, which turned out to be a great idea. On this trail we also decided to experience our first Geocaching hike. If you have never heard of Geocaching come back here in a few days as I am planning to blog about our adventuresome new hobby. You can also go to www.geocaching.com.

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Geocaching – The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

The trail is located on the Mountain Loop Hwy, 12.5 miles from the Verlot Service Center, on Dear Creek Road #4052. Follow this for 4.2 miles and you will see the parking lot for the trailhead on the left.  This is a very rough road, so be careful and go slow. Our minivan did a fine job, but our friend’s car left with a shredded tire. Good thing we had my husband with us to loosen those lug nuts!

 

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After an easy hike to the lake, and only one downed tree on the trail to climb under, we saw a few nice campsites and were pretty pleased with our find until we realized that there was an abundance of biting flies, and horseflies.

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After taking a few minutes to look around and allowing the kids to swim in the lake, we decided it was too intolerable to stay the afternoon and have our lunch.

 

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The kids were more miserable than the adults were. I had never read of this being a problem at this particular lake so I was rather confused. I have since read about this problem and realized it may have had something to do with the recent wet weather and then the change to hot temperatures. Whatever the reason was, we needed to leave quickly, but not before we found the cache we came to find. I had ventured off with my GPS while the kids swam, and looked around the area to find the general area in which it was hidden. The clue we were given gave me an idea of where it could be, so after everyone dried off we began our search.

 

 

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The kids were excited enough to take their minds of the flies buzzing everywhere. After a few minutes the kids found the boulder it was hidden under, and we were all pretty relieved that we could head back soon.

 

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So, we wrote quickly in the log book, the kids chose which treasures to trade from the cache, and we eagerly headed back to the trailhead.

 

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I wish we could have stayed the day. I had read wonderful reviews of this lake and looked forward to backpacking here with the kids. If the flies weren’t an issue we would have chosen this site, but I can’t imagine taking the chance of trying to hike here and it being as bad as it was.

 

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Before we left, the kids found a campsite located next to a large boulder that overlooks the lake. Of course this was another perfect climbing opportunity. I would have loved to have taken some photos from this vanatage point, but I was just as eager to get going as everyone else.

 

 

As we headed back down Deer Creek Road, it wasn’t until we reached the highway that we realized our friend’s car tire was shredded.  We had decided at the trailhead that we would look for a nice picnic spot along the Stillaguamish River which runs along the Mountain Loop Hwy. My friend’s car had chosen the perfect spot on the side of the road to finally reveal its flat tire, so as my husband changed the tire we ventured down to the river to have lunch. What a beautiful place to break down.

 

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This specific location is just before Silverton. The area has a campsite or two and from the condition it was in, it seems as though the last occupants weren’t very environmentally friendly which is a shame because the river is beautiful.

 

 

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As well as the beauty this area holds, it has significant historic value as well. In 1889 gold and silver was discovered in the Monte Cristo area, and a railroad was constructed from Monte Cristo to the town of Granite Falls, and then on to a smelter in the new industrious city of Everett. The railroad was subjected to repeat flooding and miners were forced to give up. Later the railroad was built more efficiently and hotels were built for tourists wanting a weekend in the mountains. The Big Four Inn and the Monte Cristo Lodge were quite popular until further flooding in 1932. (Both burnt down in later years.) Monte Cristo became a ghost town after visitor turnout ceased, and fortunately for us is now a popular hike where a preservation society maintains what is left of this once bustling mining town.

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*The mountain loop hwy is inaccessible due to flooding damage between Barlow pass and Bedal Creek. You can no longer drive the entire loop. The loop is closed at Barlow pass from Granite falls and Bedal creek from Darrington.

 

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