Unfortunately there is no good source of information to find out what's open, if you can cross the rivers yet, if the snowfields hide the trails. The Forest Service, bless their heart, just doesn't do a good job of posting information. Ask a local and a blank stare will ensue; most of them aren't avid hikers. There's a lot more lawn mowing going on here on weekends than there is backpacking. There are a few long distance trail runners, which if you saw these trails, you know it's a lot of fast walking with running intermixed. You can ask them, if you can catch them. But it's usually up to me to do my own scouting.
I knew that the hike to Ice Lake could be treacherous, buried in snow. I've had to turn back well below the last waterfall, foiled by waist deep snow. But I had a rare Friday off (from working many many hours) so I decided to try it. It's a 16 mile round trip, so I set off early, encountering a foursome of backpackers who optimistically declared they were going to Mirror Lake. Oh you poor things, I wanted to say. Mirror was surely shrouded deep in snow. But let them discover on their own--I think people have been way too reliant on being fed information these days. These trails, you cannot Google.
I climbed up the switchbacks feeling good. Birds chirped and long green grass was growing in profusion in last year's fire area. This time of year is just so full of possibility. The whole summer stretches out, seeming endless. It's easy to make grandiose plans thinking there is way more time available than there is.
|Never seen this falls so big!|
In the last half mile, I trudged across several snowfields that could normally spell disaster--outsloped as they were, if the snow was icy or too soft, it could mean a painful slide or postholing hell. However, conditions were perfect. I kicked steps across and barely sunk in. And there it was, Ice Lake.
This is one of my favorite lakes, but in summer it's not a place to hang out too long. Because it's only eight miles from the trailhead, it's often crowded (to me more than one other camping party is crowded; but you can sometimes have 5 or more parties here. That's too many!). People trail run it. They climb the grey mountain (the Matterhorn). It's just too...easy. But this time of year? Yes!