Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ice Lake and Island Lake hike

SceneThis hike was highly recommended by my friends, and it actually exceeded their expectations.

It started off promising when we were still in the parking lot, with hills rising up on all sides. From there, the trail headed uphill and entered the woods. The woods were very nice, but the first major attraction was the waterfall pictured at left. From there, the trail went in and out of woods, with rocky hills rising up around us. An old mine (of course) was a slight diversion, as were the abundant wildflowers we encountered. The trail emerged from the woods into a valley, where we crossed and re-crossed an unusually white stream. The stream pours out of Ice Lake, both deriving their colors from minerals.

PinkAfter a brief respite in the valley, the trail headed up again on slopes too steep for trees. We kept pausing to take wildflower flowers along the way, but eventually we reached the cirque with Ice Lake.

After a break, we decided to head on to Island Lake. You can also reach nearby Fuller Lake, but Friend C said it wasn't particularly exciting. Island Lake turned out to be very worthwhile. It has the same turquoise color as Ice lake, with, as you might expect, a small island in the middle. There were abundant pink flowers growing by it that perfumed the air. From there, we reluctantly turned around and headed back down.

FlowersThe hike was 4.2 miles one-way, with significant elevation gain; it was the highest I had ever hiked, above 12,000 feet. It was well worth it, though. This hike checked off nearly every box for a great hike: waterfalls, mountains, scenic vistas, lakes, dramatic rocks, and wildflowers. The wildflowers in particular were a surprise, as my friends weren't anticipating them in such abundance and variety. We also discovered the existence of the hummingbird moth, which is exactly what it sounds like; picture a hummingbird with antennae, and you've got the hummingbird moth. Overall, it definitely rated as one of the best hikes I've done.

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