It was very hot in the seattle area - in the 90s - and when it's this hot, it's nice to get out of town. Andrea and I took a long hike in the alpine lakes wilderness area today.
In an old growth forest there is a lot more variety in the tree species than in a modern, managed forest. Spruce, hemlock, cedar, alder (some of the biggest alders that I've ever seen are on this hike; I'd estimate 3' DBH - diameter at breast height) and lots of plants that you just dont' see in younger forests. Whole ecosystems that evolve in the thousand years while the tree grows, on the branches of the tree.
How to get there? Take highway 2 towards stevens pass. Turn south (right) on the foss river road - about 15 miles west of the summit. Follow that road about 10 miles, choosing the "west fork of the foss river" when you're given a choice. You'll find yourself at the end of the road, there's a trailhead, bulletin board and permit center. Permits are $5, and cover both day and overnight uses.
Trout lake is an easy 2 mile high up from the trailhead, about 400' vertical gain, and a nice small, clear lake. Call it an hour walk. After trout lake the trail continues 3 miles to the first lakes, Malachite and Copper lakes, with a vertical gain of 1600'. Most of the route is shaded, and there are plenty of views of waterfalls and scenery as you ascend. Once you're up on the main plateau there are a number of very large alpine lakes to choose from; big heart, little heart, etc.
Link with a trip report from someone in 2008, and a map.
18 hours ago