We (3 teens and I) tried to make it up to Twin Lakes, but between the heat, smoke and altitude our 4wd vehicle didn’t make it, so we came back down and decided to head up to Heather Meadows for an overnighter. Reading the regulations, there is no camping within the Heather Meadows area, so we tried to make it to the campsites at Chain Lakes, but if snow didn’t allow for it, our backup plan was to find a spot outside the area, but well away from the lakes.
The initial part of the hike was great – fairly level with just occasional, short stretches of snow to cross. The smoke was present, but gave the area a cool, orangey hue (I’d obviously prefer there not to be smoke though). Having not done this trail before, I thought it’d be fairly straightforward, and perhaps once the snow melts it will be, but once the trail started going uphill things got a little interesting. Patches of snow got larger, and about halfway up some routefinding was necessary. The slope wasn’t great, so we were able to make it up with just hiking boots (for me), and tennis shoes/runners with the kids, but poles and microspikes would have been handy. We never really crossed snow where a fall would have been dangerous, but still, for some it’s probably a bit too much for a couple more weeks.
We made it up to the top of the ridge separating Bagley & Iceberg/Hayes Lakes, but were surprised and disappointed to see it was all snow from there down to the campsites. We found flat spots in the snow nearby to camp. Due to the smoke we couldn’t even see Baker (it eventually appeared in the middle of the night). Shuksan was hard to see in the distance. The bugs were out of control, biting flies and mosquitoes, and in the morning I woke up to the sound of about 20 flies and bees flying and buzzing between my tent and rainfly.
Overall the trip was a success, but I want to try to make it to the Chain Lakes campsites in a few weeks, and also want to try the Twin Lakes area again (next time I’ll park at the Yellow Astor Butte trailhead and hike up though!)