Overnight Solo Backpack to Upper Twin Lake, Mt. Hood Wilderness

Hello Everybody, I’m back. I’m on a new laptop, and Jon recovered all my files so I can get back to posting! Yay – thanks Jon! So let’s go back in time to mid-July. On the 19th and 20th I headed out to Mt. Hood Wilderness to do a quick overnight backpack from the Barlow Pass Sno-Park to Upper Twin Lake. Here’s the trip report… the pics aren’t that great cause I only had my cell phone working on the trip.


Barlow Pass TH to Upper Twin Lake via PCT and Twin Lakes Trail – 3.5 miles *
* with Twin Lake Trail loop and misdirection can be up to 5.5 miles


After packing up I arrived at the trailhead around 5p. TH to Upper Twin Lake is about 3.5 miles, which would give me plenty of time to hike to the lake before sunset. But… I wasn’t paying attention to trail signs and went down the Barlow Wagon Road ending up at the Pioneer Women’s Grave. Which was kind of cool, because I’ve passed it dozens of times and never visited, but was not cool because it added an extra 2 miles to the hike. The one bonus of setting off the wrong direction was the great view of Mt. Hood I had from the wagon route.


Slogged back up to the parking lot and started over southbound on the PCT after some debate about driving down to Wapanita Pass and starting the hike from there as it’s a bit shorter. Still thought I could make it to Upper Twin Lake before sunset so set off anyway. Temps were still hovering in the 80s so the hike was pretty hot and sweaty. I passed one group of 4 hikers along the way, who obviously had been down at the lakes swimming.


After some serious slap happy semi-bonkery on the trail singing “Hi-Ho Hi-Ho Southbound on the PCT I go… and Hi-ho the merry-o there’s horse shit all over the trail I go, ding dong the poop is on the trail”. Finally around 3.5 miles in I drank the cold Coke I picked up in Welches and the energy levels spiked enough to hoof it in the rest of the way to camp without incident.


Turning onto the Twin Lakes Trail I finally arrived 5.5 miles later at Upper Twin Lake utterly deserted – yay – my very own lake for the night! Found an excellent site on the north side of the lake and promptly went to work setting up camp, and promptly broke one of the poles on my tent. It snapped in a way that I couldn’t use the spare pole sleeve so I had to use one of my hiking poles to hold up the fourth corner. Love it when adventures require problem solving – instead of feeling irritating it makes you feel alive. It was a little wonky but ended up holding overnight.


Set up the Esbit stove, and boiled up some water for a Backpackers Pantry pouch of Hawaiian style Chicken – bleck. Definitely not my favorite pouch of backpacking food for sure. Hit the hay early to read my book. Ended up reading til 3 in the morning, and slept in fits in starts. Hadn’t been sleeping well all that week. The night was blissfully quiet with only occasional soft chippy scurrying and other forest noises.


Woke in the morning to 3 ravens flying around the lake making their weird and loud calls, woodpeckers chipping away at trees, and a warbling bird that sounded like the same one we heard up in North Cascades. Still haven’t actually seen that bird. Had a Mountain House pouch of eggs with bacon, and made a lovely mug of camp coffee while watching the sun rise over the hills surrounding the lake.


While waiting for the water to boil I moseyed over to check out the water, debated taking a morning swim, and noticed that a bunch of deer must have visited in the night as there were tracks all over, and continued around the lake. Didn’t hear them at all, stealthy critters!


After breakfast I packed up camp and forgoing the morning swim headed back onto the Twin Lakes trail to finish the loop to the Lower lake and hike back up the PCT to the car. I passed a few people camping at Lower Twin Lake, and one thru-hikery type flew by me on the PCT about a mile out from the lake, but the trail and lakes were otherwise empty.


At one point I paused on the trail to take in the peaceful morning quiet, and catch my breath. I had been looking uphill at the sun through the trees, but when I turned my head in the opposite direction there was a Douglas squirrel staring at me from a broken fir limb. As soon as it noticed me noticing it it scurried off into the pines. A great spot of an elusive and uncommon squirrel.

The rest of the dusty 5+ mile hike back to the car was uneventful. This is a great little trip for a first time out for the year solo backpacking outing. Not too far, a quiet and peaceful lake to swim in, plenty of wildlife to watch, but there is (sadly) cell phone service in some spots up there so it’s “out there” quotient is not very high. Can’t wait to hit the trails for more backpacking fun soon!