I am always on the search for dog-friendly adventure destinations in Washington State. Doggy Daddy and I hardly go anywhere without Chester and Gretel because, well, they are part of the family and an adventure isn’t the same without them. A few months ago I found a wonderful gem – Scottish Lakes High Camp.
The Scottish Lakes High Camp is a small group of rustic cabins nestled against a high-mountain ridge in the Central Cascades. Perched at 5,000 feet, on the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, it is surrounded by 35 miles of nordic trails. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at High Camp on winter weekends before December 15 and after March 31.
The retreat is a great place to unplug (well, unless you got cell phone data like me…but I tried) and enjoy mountain activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and telemark skiing (or hiking and fishing in the summer).
This is one of the only (if not THE only) high hut retreats in Washington where you and your gear can get a ride to the front door of your cabin. That meant that, while we couldn’t pack the kitchen sink, we could pack plenty of warm clothes, food and beer. That also meant that Chester and Gretel got to ride snowmobiles for the first time! It was my first time on a snowmobile too.
I didn’t know how Chester and Gretel were going to react. Since I was gripping the seat handle tightly with one hand, I only had one arm free to hold Gretel. It could see that it was going to be a bit of a problem if she was wiggly and trying to get off. To my pleasant surprise, she just sat there calmly, wrapped in her blanket, with the wind blowing in her face. Besides my arm feeling like it was going to fall off after bouncing along for 4 miles, the experience was a breeze.
We wondered how people with big dogs got up there if they hitched a ride but we saw pictures of people holding their big dog in a bear hug between themselves and the snowmobile driver. Apparently they had no problem staying on without having a death grip on the seat handle like I did. Ha, ha.
I was riding on the snowmobile towing the cart full of gear. The hitch pin fell out and we dropped the sled but a few minutes of MacGyvering by our hosts and we were on our way again. The adventure had already begun.
We were the very first camp visitors of the season and, besides the camp host, we had the whole place to ourselves. We arrived in the afternoon on the first day so we alternated between warming ourselves by the fire and playing in the snow.
That night, Doggy Daddy and I took advantage of having the wood-fired hot tub all to ourselves and soaked under the starts into the night.
It rained lightly the whole time we were there but that didn’t ruin our fun. The second day we snowshoed a couple of miles to a lookout. We ran into a small group of folks that had a friendly dog with them and had a great little chat – the kind you have with random strangers on the trail that love adventure like you do.
In the evening, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving potluck feast with about 16 strangers, and 5 other pups, in the main lodge. There was some wine and some Scottish rugby songs sung. It felt like we were celebrating the day with travelers at some refuge in the mountains of Europe. It was pretty surreal – Definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.
The next day we slept in, packed, straightened up the cabin, rode back down the mountain and drove the two hours back to Seattle.
The whole trip was relaxing. I felt like it forced us to appreciate the simple things and spend some focused time together. I definitely plan to save my pennies so we can stay there again.
More About Scottish Lakes High Camp
The nine cabins are rustic – built primarily out of plywood and recycled building materials – but a lot of comforts are provided.
Each cabin has a wood stove, propane cooking burners, propane lanterns and oil lamps, pans, dishes, and utensils. The cabins are outfitted with bunks, mattresses, pillows, containers of 100% pure mountain spring water, and bedding for a small fee (free in couples cabins).
The camp provides adult and kids snowshoes on loan (although they are limited and well used so you might want to bring your own if you have them), unlimited kindling and firewood, a wood-fired cedar sauna, an outdoor, wood-fired redwood hot tub, a heated backcountry shower, upscale outhouses, and a warm and cozy day loge where you can enjoy fireside drinks, games, and chats with new friends.
The cabins vary in size and, since the capacity varies 2 – 10 people, you can choose the perfect size to fit your private party. Prices start at $60 per night per person. Gear and skier round trip transportation up the mountain is $70 per person (less if you hike or ski part or all of the trip). There is no pet fee for dogs to stay in the cabin but round-trip transportation for each dog is $10 – $20 depending on the season and how far up the mountain the dog rides.
For more information visit http://www.scottishlakes.com.