Day 1: This was my first multi-day backpack trip and my husband could not have planned a better loop. The first day was a struggle with a big elevation gain and no water for five miles, we had to carry 6 liters of water each. But when we finally reached Happy Lake, we were thrilled because had the entire small lake to ourselves. We camped without a soul around. It was heaven. Happy Lake, however, was not ideal for swimming. It was tadpole heaven with a rich layer of nutrient slime on top. So we vowed to stink a bit on day two and follow up with a swim at Boulder Lake.
Day 2: We had a 6-mile hike from Happy Lake to Boulder Lake along a beautiful ridge. At times we had a panoramic view of the rugged Olympic mountains and could see as far as Vancouver Island. It was gorgeous. We passed very few people on the trail, which was a series of moderate ascents and descents. The hike down into Boulder Lake was a sharp rocky descent and we were very grateful for our trekking poles. We camped on a bluff above the lake. Since Boulder Lake was accessible as a day hike, it was a bit more crowded, but our spot gave us plenty of solitude, except for a black bear, who awoke us in the middle of the night with his boastful stomping. We managed to scare him away with some strong yelling and were smart enough to store everything in our bear container away from the tent.
Day 3: We had an invigorating swim at Boulder Lake and even managed to wash some clothes. The cold water soothed our achy feet and backs. It was a blast. We lingered at Boulder Lake playing in the water since we had an easy hike on day 3. We also really begun to hit our stride in terms of stamina. We hiked just a few miles down into the Boulder Creek campgrounds, located next to the Olympic Hot Springs. After pitching our tent, we took a well-earned soak in the all-natural pools.
Day 4: Ah, a day of soaking. The Olympic Hot Springs are a series of all-natural pools inside the National Park. They are unofficially clothing optional and are a wonderful treat. There once was a resort at the hot springs, but nature has reclaimed nearly all remnants except several sections of the paved road. After a wonderful morning, we packed up for a short hike back. The only downer about the day 4 hike was the stretch along the road from the Hot Springs trailhead back to the Happy Lake trailhead, which was rather dull. This could not have been a more perfect trip for my first multi-day backpack trip.