The Melakwa Lake hike begins as the Denny Creek trail, but continues on and becomes much more difficult and worthwhile if you travel a little further. Not only was there varied terrain (loose rocks, roots, and the occasional stream to cross), there was also the fading sound of I-90 in the distance.
We kept a steady 2.5mph pace throughout the hike and only stopped a few times to take pictures. We kept this pace even up the steep incline and made it to the lake in about an hour and a half. It was a challenge, but nothing we couldn’t handle. At one point, about two miles in after Denny Creek, we were unable see where the trail went from where we stood, but after looking at our GPS, we saw that it led over the monstrous ridge before us. This was intimidating at first, but as I learned throughout this hike, in the end it would be so worth it.
The lake itself was gorgeous; serene, reflective, and glass-like. A small group was camping on the far side of the water on a small island-like inlet, a few others were resting after arriving a short while before us. To be alone while we recovered, we trekked a little deeper around the lake and across a steep patch to a stack of rocks and roots. Here we snacked, talked, and took pictures before heading back down.
The traveling cloud of fog, which had been following us along the switchbacks and up the ridge, met us at the lake a few minutes after we arrived. Luckily we saw him coming and did our best to snap as many photos as we could. Before the clouds took over, the waters here looked almost tropical with their turquoise hue; this matched with the rich green of the Evergreens surrounding us made for a beautiful sight.
On the return trip, we quickly maneuvered down the rocky sections and did some slight trail running once we knew we were on the dirt-packed home stretch of the last two miles. At the largest creek crossing (made easily passable by a downed log), we stopped for a while to pick wild blueberries and salmonberries.
More than anything, this hike opened my eyes to what I am capable of. Less than a year ago, I never would have attempted, let alone easily completed, this sort of hike. Yes, there are more strenuous and difficult hikes out there, but this hike was proof to myself of how far I have come, as well as how much farther I want to go. The ability to complete a 9-mile, heavy incline trail with as much speed and ease as I did, has given me the motivation to continue and know that I can and will continue to surprise myself in the best way possible.