Proof Frontier Project: Kaelee Butner

Posted on by Jen Bernhardt

Backpacking Ancient Lakes

@seattlebred

After three consecutive weekends of the worst possible spring weather (downpours and 60mph wind gusts on some days) I nearly lost my mind in excitement when I saw gorgeous weather forecasted in Eastern Washington at a popular Spring Backpacking location. My only problem was that all of my usual hiking and backpacking friends were busy or away traveling, so I resigned myself to go alone and enjoy the beautiful weather any way possible! I planned on leaving early Saturday morning. As I was leaving work on Friday night a friend texted me to tell me she had just found out she was being laid off from her job. She was excited to use her severance to travel and take some time away, I immediately responded, “long shot, but if you want to start some of that time away this weekend I am going to backpack in Eastern Washington!” She has never been backpacking before and didn’t own any of the necessary equipment, thankfully there are tons of places in Seattle you can rent it from! After a couple of messages back and forth she agreed to come along and we met up to rent gear and pack together for our early morning departure.

Ancient lakes is near the Gorge Amphitheatre in Eastern Washington, about a 2.5 hour drive away from Seattle. We left Seattle at 6am because I wanted to arrive at the lakes early and snag a good place to set up our tent. It was the first weekend with good weather in a while and I figured a lot of people would have the same idea we had, and I wasn’t wrong. After a short flat 2 mile hike to the basin we arrived to see a massive group of Boy Scouts setting up their tents in a big grassy field. We pushed up onto a ridge and found a perfect little campsite overlooking Ancient Lake and the waterfall that feeds it. The only problem with being there so early to grab our perfect spot is that we were done setting up camp at 11am. My friend hadn’t brought a book or anything to do so she sat out and enjoyed the sun while I took a nap in our tent. After an hour or so of lounging we set off to explore the waterfall that feeds the lake. It’s an easy enough hike over to the waterfall, but the final push to get to the top is up a super steep mound of loose dirt and rocks. I was on all fours to climb up and my friend was a little nervous about the whole situation. I honestly was as well, but I put on a brave face to convince her to go all the way to the top! We both were wearing our Proof Sunglasses, I wore the State Wood Frames and she had on a pair of the Ada Eco Polarized Sunglasses. I was a little jealous of her polarized lenses as they seemed to cut down the glare off the lake super well!

Frames: Left: State Wood // Right: Ada Eco

The hike down from the waterfall was its own adventure as we slipped and slid on loose rocks, eventually we made it down to the trail and back to our tent safely. It was around 3pm and we were fairly hungry so we cooked up our dehydrated meal and broke open a box of wine. The sky started to cloud over and we were worried we would get rained on overnight, but much to our surprise, the clouds passed and we got the most amazing sunset! We ran around like giddy children snapping photos until eventually it got dark and we settled in for the night.


I set an alarm for 11pm to wake up and practice my night photography. I always mean to do it, and I almost always decide I would rather sleep. Our campsite overlooked the waterfall and canyon walls so I knew I would really regret it if I skipped it again. I spent an hour or so getting an assortment of photos while my tent mate slept and I was super happy with how they turned out!

We woke up early to pack up camp and make the short hike back to the car. On arriving back to Seattle my friend immediately demanded I invite her on all my future backpacking trips, I think it’s safe to say she enjoyed her first trip!

Posted under: #prooffrontierproject

Proof Frontier Project: Kaelee Butner
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