I haven't been to Upper Lena Lake in years, and it's remarkable how different the trail is now. The hike was a birthday celebration/training hike for the birthday girl, and we picked a good trail to train on. We started out on good, wide tread, which had recently been worked on by WTA (in the last three weeks) but soon discovered how gnarly the trail to Upper Lena has gotten.
First though, Lena Lake was lovely. Our group took a break here to chill out and have a snack before heading on to Upper Lena.
There are large swathes of trail I must have blocked from my memory from my last visit, because I had no recollection of how long, steep and challenging the section between Upper and Lower Lena was. To my relief, the rest of the group (who had been here much more recently than me) said it was more difficult than they remembered, too. Phew.
The trail to Upper Lena has about nine large trees down that will require crosscuts to remove (and currently require hikers to crawl under or climb over). There is about a quarter to a third of a mile of extremely heavy brush beyond those trees, which obscures the trail in places. In this area the trail is also narrow and slumping.
Past the brush and the trees the trail is a little easier to negotiate. That's partially because the terrain flattens out but also thanks in part to work done by a WTA BCRT a couple of years ago, who cleared away vine maple and worked on the tread on the last section of switchbacks before the lake.
We finally did make it to the lake (after many false predictions that it was "just right around this corner" ...it's remarkable how the inclination to predict that never seems to go away, no matter how much you've hiked).
At the lake, we had a very leisurely lunch, and had the area all to ourselves for most of it. As we got ready to leave, more folks showed up, including one family who had a crew of kids with them. We were very impressed the little ones had made it all the way to Upper Lena, considering the condition of the trail below.
On the way down, I got whapped in the eye with some brush that had caught on my friend's backpack. A good reminder to not follow your fellow hikers too closely.