Tis NOT the season to do some hiking:

Attention Outdoor Enthusiasts! The biting flies are in their prime on the trails, making adventures to Denny Creek and North Cascade Trails irritating and distracting from our northwest scenery.

My work posse and I headed out to Denny Creek Trail on Thursday for a trip to Melakwa Lake (which means “mosquito” in the native tongue, and mosquito is Spanish for “little fly” – that should have been a tip-off). We were at the trail by 8am, and it was perfect – cool enough to handle the terrain but sunny and clear. If you have not been on Denny Creek Trail I’ll inform you now that it starts off a little misleading. Flat and wide for the first mile, it doesn’t come close to representing what is to come. Fortunately, there is a clearing with creek-softened rocks and fresh running water that can make the first mile the only one you take for a pleasant destination.
After the first mile, the trail begins to ascend the 2,300 feet to the lake. Steep switchbacks and extremely rocky terrain do a number on your lower leg. Be certain to wear supportive hiking boots; you will need the extra ankle stability.

Melakwa Lake is a worthy reward for the climb up. The water is so clean it reflects a blue-green color reminiscent of the tropics. The Alpine forest surrounding it envelopes your senses and soothes the most troubled of minds.
We stayed for 2 hours there – noshing on dolmas and Coors, sun-bathing on a large boulder, and exploring the entomological delights of the area (swimming beetles and legged wormy creatures which used twigs as a natural protective shell). After about noon, the biting flies came out for lunch and proved to be enough of an annoyance that mobilization was in order.
The flies only became worse as we descended in the heat. By time we were a mile from the trailhead it was difficult to move fast enough to outrun them. Stopping meant certain doom; they quickly and eagerly took opportunities to sample human flesh. I suspect the flies will only be alive for the next week or so; perhaps a hiker with more experience on these trails can let us know. Regardless, keep in mind that early August is a risky time to head out.

As a moderately experienced trail runner and hiker, I would rate this hike a 7/10 in difficultly. The steep incline on the route up will fatigue your glutes and calves even if you have the aerobic capacity to handle the oxygen demand in thinner air. The descent back to the trailhead is terribly difficult on the knees; I have no history of knee problems, but they were definitely letting my brain know they had been worked. A collegue of mine with knee issues was having difficulty keeping them from giving out on her. This trail is also contraindicated for anyone with weak ankles. The rockslides have made a good chunk of the trail difficult to wade through and the smoothest parts of the trail are still abundant with roots and rock to trip one up.

Caution aside, this is an excellent hike for anyone who wants a rewarding challenge and spectacular views of alpine beauty for the duration of the route. It is a popular and well-used trail, so take into consideration the pros and cons associated with this. I will be returning back when the flies retire and my rear end is no longer sore.

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