Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Challenge of Sky Lake

The Scout leader, hiking illegally with too large of a group of Boy Scouts, peered at us in a worried fashion as we sat by the water crossing, putting our hiking shoes back on.

"Sky Lake?" he said. "Well, it's a challenge, but you'll get there."

I always find it interesting when other people say these kinds of things in the outdoors. Once as a wilderness ranger, I breezily told a group that scrambling up a talus slope and down the other side to an off-trail lake was "easy." When I came upon the group the next day, I was met with glares. Not so easy, apparently.


I floated up the trail, overcome with the kind of high that only happens in the mountains. The sky was a perfect blue, far bluer than in town, we all agreed. The weather was perfect, a soft breeze and a few harmless clouds. The crowds were all stomping around the Lakes Basin instead of here. The company was good, two people who hiked my pace! Who liked to occasionally wander off trail! Who would leave camp and hike around! I was overwhelmed at my good fortune.

Looking down at Swamp Lake.

It didn't take much persuasion to get the group headed over the pass and down to the Granite Creek Basin, a place of such boundless open tundra and mystery that you could spend days just walking around it. A nameless lake twinkled below us. We were unable to resist climbing up to a plateau just in case another lake lurked up there, and to a little peephole in the ridge to look into another intriguing basin below.

Granite Creek basin.

A challenge indeed, but the challenge was not to just keep walking south, west, east, anywhere but back home.
Love this clear water.

Mystery lake, with no name. As it should be.

Sky Lake

Sunset over Sky.

A lucky miner lived here.

Another basin to explore, someday.


  1. Oh, my! What a beautiful world you live in. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us

  2. Just beautiful! Sitting here it looks easy but sadly I know that I would be talking like the scouts. The mind but not the body is willing.

  3. No wildfire smoke by you? I'm kinda jealous.


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