Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pratt Lake

 Beautiful day for a hike to see fall colors. We drove up I-90 to hike to Pratt Lake in the Alpine Lake Wilderness. This is an 11 mile round trip hike with an overall 3,000 ft gain.
We started seeing some fall foliage near the beginning of the trail. The first mile shares the trail with the way to Granite Mountain, before turning off to the left.
 We passed some small creeks.
 Before long we were hiking in the snow.
 The trail continues to go up through the forest with a couple of trails diverging from the Pratt Lake Trail.
About 4 miles from the trailhead, a clear spot allows you to look down on Olallie Lake.
I love the mixture of bright fall colors against the snow covered evergreens.
Soon after this, the trail splits off, one way to Island Lake, and the Pratt Lake trail continues to the right and descends via switchbacks down 800 ft to the lake basin. We found everything covered in snow.

Across the basin we saw Kaleetan Peak covered in snow.

View of Pratt Lake from the southeast side

 The fall foliage lit up by the sun in the snow was so beautiful.

Wide angle shot of Pratt Mountain and Pratt Lake

Lots of fall color along the lakeside trail.

View of Pratt Mountain and Pratt Lake from our lunch spot on the north shore.

 On the hike back out, the sun really lit up the fall foliage.

Another wide angle shot from the east side of Pratt lake

 The sun warmed up the weather and the snow began melting. There was less snow of the trees as the snow melted.

 View of Olallie Lake as we hiked back to the trailhead.

another small creek

some of the fall colors that caught my eye

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Colchuck Lake and Asgard Pass

 We had a permit to camp at Colchuck Lake for two nights and hoped to hike up to Asgard Pass and into the Core Zone as a day hike. Snow came the night before we hiked up, we decided to go ahead and see how far we got. We enjoyed our two nights at the lake, and didn't quite make it up to the top of Asgard Pass, but did reach 7,300 ft before making the decision to turn around on the icy trail. The views were fabulous! Overall we hiked about 12 miles with 4,000 ft of elevation gain.
We started up the trail to Colchuck Lake on Sunday afternoon, with heavy backpacks filled with winter gear. The 4 mile hike up to Colchuck Lake is mostly in the forest. Beautiful fall colors were mixed in with the evergreen trees.
 We had occasional views of high peaks with golden larches.
The sun was setting as we reached Colchuck  Lake, pano view from near the north end of Colchuck Lake:

 We hiked about 0.5 mile along the lake shore looking for an open campsite, and quickly set up camp as it was getting dark.
View of Colchuck Peak across the lake from our campsite.
 On Sunday, we began hiking around Coldchuck Lake to the south side to hike up towards Asgard Pass. Going up to Asgard, the trail gains 2,200 ft in a little over 1 mile, very steep.
 First we had to traverse the boulder field on the south side of the lake.
There were several different social trails left in the snow and ice. I think we were following a very convoluted way. It took us about 1-1/2 hrs to find our way from our campsite to below Asgard Pass over very icy boulders.
 Colchuck Lake in the morning looking north.

 We enjoyed hiking through the golden larches.
 Watching the sun light up the top of Colchuck Peak.
 Even though we would not make it into the Core on this trip, we loved the continuous views we had. Here golden larches along side of Dragontail Peak.
 We followed the cairns marking the safe route up to the far left.
 Looking back down at Colchuck Lake as we hiked up beyond the larches high up the trail.
The route passed a frozen waterfall.
 Another view of Dragontail Peak
View of Colchuck Lake from further up
 rocky peak to the east
 Up into another larch area.
 We were within 500 ft of Asgard Pass when we made the decision to turn around. We wanted to make sure we were back at camp before sundown. We had also reached a section where scrambling was required, which we were not comfortable doing in the icy conditions. (I forgot to take a picture of what looked like a wall of rock and ice)
 We enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a sunny spot and continued to marvel at the views around us as we carefully made our way back down the trail.

 As the sun rose in the sky, the larches lit up in the sun.

The lake was teal in the full sun.
 One of many pica that were out.

 Besides the golden larches, there were some colorful vine maples as well.

 Looking back up towards Asgard Pass and seeing how far we had been, up beyond the larches seen here.
We stopped along the south shore of Colchuck Lake before heading back to our campsite.
 view from the south lake shore looking up towards the larches on the side of Colchuck Pass.
 We found a better route through the boulder field on our way out.

 Late afternoon view of Asgard Pass, Dragontail Peak, Colchuck Pass and Peak from our campsite:
View from our campsite on a cloudy Monday morning before hiking out.

I tried to enjoy all the views as we hiked out on Monday. Looking across Colchuck Lake to a ridge line with golden larches.
a smaller peak south of a pond near Colchuck Lake 
A gray jay following us along part of the trail 

yellow vine maples near one of the log bridges

More color as we continued to hike towards the trailhead.