By Joanna Bastian
A fun thing I might do again, but not anytime soon, is the 4.5-mile, 4,000-foot climb to Scatter Lake.
First, I need to regain feeling in my quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, calves and foot flexors. The entire group of muscles in each leg feels like a tub of Jell-O. Or like that wind sock guy that jerkily jerks over parking lots full of shiny new cars.
Here’s what happened: In a fit of early summer fever, I yearned to hike into a high mountain lake. Something cool and deep, ringed in snow, with the still surface mirroring the surrounding peaks. One morning, I leaned over a topo map spread out over the kitchen counter. The next morning, we were high-stepping it to Scatter Lake.
For a visual of the climb to Scatter Lake, check out Google maps. Enter “Scatter Creek Trail Twisp,” select “Maps,” and then hover over the drop-down menu on the top left corner and select “Terrain.” If what you see looks very much like a 4-mile vertical climb … that’s the one.
My husband, who has the gift of foresight (i.e. 20-plus years of experience with my eyes-bigger-than-my-hiking-ability impediment), suggested that we take a leisurely approach to the trail and turn it into an overnight backpack. It was very pleasant to not feel rushed, and to just enjoy the trail knowing that we had all the time in the world to soak it all in.
The first ¼-mile begins on the Twisp River Trail, a gentle meander that could be continued if one would like the use of their legs the following day. But, if jelly-legs and high mountain lakes are calling you, take the Scatter Creek trail that branches off towards the right.
The first mile of Scatter Creek Trail is pleasantly wide and appears to follow an old roadbed that is overgrown and narrowed to a single track. The grade is gradual through a shady forest.
The second mile is loaded with switchbacks, steadily climbing out of the valley. Through breaks in the tree cover, tantalizing views of snow-packed ridgelines promise bigger and better views further up the trail.
The third mile laughs in the face of trail engineering and moons the “10-percent grade” standard of trail design. Switchbacks are swapped out for sloping meadows. Although the map and trail notes state that the trail follows Scatter Creek, the creek is an inaccessible roar below the trail. Be sure to carry enough water to stay hydrated.
While the third mile is steep, the fourth mile is straight up, with sections of loose rock and scree that can be a challenge on the way back down. The trail crosses several small streams, the largest being Scatter Creek.
The fourth mile ends in a beautiful meadow. Scatter Creek Falls rises above the meadow, as does the lake basin and the final half-mile push to Scatter Lake. The leg burn is totally worth the stunning views and the peaceful surroundings.