Barclay Lake and the Big Cat!

This past weekend was beautiful and dry! Something the PNW hasn’t seen for sometime, so my cousin Tom and I decided to head for Barclay Lake in the Wild Sky Wilderness area off of Highway 2 in Baring, Wa. Once you leave the highway there’s a worthwhile stop on the way up to the trailhead. I’ll tell you how to get there.

Just keep looking left as you drive up 635th Place NE to find the rock formation pictured above. It’s maybe a mile up after you cross the railroad tracks. Someone had built a peculiar looking fort inside a cave that includes a real glass window and functional door. It’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to check out the handy work alongside the interesting geology. Scratch your head in bewilderment for a moment and get back to the original mission.

Once at the Trailhead to Barclay you will want to take the left, lower trail as the ascending trail takes you on another adventure. The path takes you into a magical forest with every lush shade of green you could imagine. Even in the dead of winter like right now. It’s a pretty easy going trail most of the way. Only toward the end you will notice a bit of an elevation gain, but you will be too in awe of your surroundings to even care. The entire journey is 4.4 miles round trip with 500 feet in elevation gain.

When we reached the lake there was a good blanket of snow on the trail and the stunning Barclay was nearly all the way froze over. However, the real show stopper towers 3700 vertical feet above the lake’s shoreline. Mount Baring is quite a dramatic sight to be seen as it dwarfs the beauty below. With a perfectly unobstructed view of both Barclay Lake and Mount Baring you’re sure to be drooling on yourself as you attempt to take it all in.

We were up for some more adventure once we got there so decided to wander up the inlet stream at the far side of the lake. Here we kept post-holing in the deep snow and it didn’t seem like good terrain to get out the snowshoes. It turned out to be a wise idea to retreat because both Tom and I quickly realized we were being stalked by a wild cat (likely a cougar). Sometimes they get curious and will follow, but usually you won’t hear or see them. We only caught a glimpse of it through the bushes. Attacks by these cats are really rare as long as you are respecting its space and making yourself appear as big as possible while avoiding turning your back to it. This isn’t the first or last time this has happened to me. Just be sure to educate yourself and be smart out in the wild and you’ll make it home safe every time. No need for panic! Here’s a good read on how to react when encountering a mountain lion: Here’s to safe travels and not letting fear get in the way of epic adventure!

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