Who doesn’t like an add on? Even though the “Grand Loop” (a couple stories before this one–I’m a little behind on this post) was a full plate of 13 thousand feet elevation gain in 43 miles, I still felt I needed another helping. I suppose I had “buffet syndrome”– shoving in as much as possible because I already paid for however much I could handle (by means of a $45 pass that included as many ONP permits as I could obtain.) So, after saying goodbye to my gals in Port Angeles that Friday, I kept heading down the Peninsula toward Staircase Campground for my next mountain meal. (At Flapjack Lakes, hence the clever title – another three thousand feet of elevation gained in just 4 of another 15 mile hike — quite a mouth full!) Only problem was my permit was for the following night (a Saturday – the hardest to get…secured it months in advance) so I had to figure out where I’d put my tent up for the evening.
Let me remind you, this was a beautiful Friday in August. Anybody who has tried to get a walk in camp spot pretty much anywhere in Washington on a weekend in the summer knows I was REALLY rolling the dice on this one. I knew a spot at Staircase was utterly hopeless, but being there are a handful of campgrounds on the way, I took my chances. Amazingly I found one on my first try at Seal Rock–water view and everything. Don’t try this at home people…it really was nothing short of a miracle. (Someone else had it saved for a friend who never showed, and I just happened to arrive exactly when they were ready to let it go.)
Being I was camped just an hour’s drive away from the North Fork Skokomish trailhead (located in the Staircase Campground, where you access the Flapjack Lakes trail, along with many others) I arrived fairly early, but yet still found a completely full lot. If you don’t want to park on the side of the road and add another half mile to your trip, best to get there before 8 am.
I really had to question my sanity when I hit the Flapjack Lake’s “time to climb” turn off at 3.7 miles in, and only decided my “extra portion” was worth it when the lakes came into view at the very end. But that last mile…let me tell you, it really had me doubting. This trail gave me more than my fill — of beauty and of pain — both of which I can’t seem to get enough of. Happy “full plate” trails– that hopefully don’t leave you overly stuffed! (A few “things to know” below if you are thinking of doing this trail, but no trail log since it was only one night.)
- Like I mentioned, it’s hard to get a permit at the lakes. There is, though, a really nice camp right at the junction a half mile before (where you could continue on to Black and White Lakes if you wanted) that I think would be awesome and is probably easy to get since it’s not listed. (You’d have to ask for it at the Ranger Station, which is actually manned there right in the parking lot!) Not having to haul your pack up that God awful last half mile, and not having to deal so much with bugs (which are horrid at the lakes) are a couple good reasons to consider it.
- That dreadful last half mile mentioned–well, it is also infested with ground bees. They didn’t go after me (just a lot of buzzing) but if you have a fear of bees, this trail is not for you.
- I have never seen so many berries! They literally surround the lakes, so if berries are your thing, this is your ticket.
- The campsite all the way to the left is the best, imo. But if you choose the first one, right smack in the middle of the trail, you really shouldn’t act all annoyed that everyone is walking through your camp. I’m sorry, but that’s the price you pay for that spot, so lighten up!