The day of the eclipse as well as Shannon’s birthday. Pinnacle lake is a great day trip, but we wanted to get up on top of the mountains to watch the eclipse and explore more than what daylight had in store for us. This time we brought along our tent to stay the night. The hike itself from the parking lot to the lake is on the “must do list” as the later half of the trail climbs up a steep bank next to a flat rock with cascading waterfalls, wild flowers and astonishing scenery. As you reach the lake you are presented with an amphitheatre of mountains with snow patches and scree slopes. The camping area itself has no real amenities, so outhouses and places to stash your food away from the critters will have to be decided upon by the campers themselves. Although you can see locations where campfires have been built in the past we usually opt against them and use our camp stove as trees in the alpine are few and far between. The 4km and 2 hour hike leaves you lots of time to explore the area and even walk around the lake and enjoy the mountains.
As night fell we hung our food up in the trees in our bear proof bag and nestled into the security of our rip stop nylon tent and down sleeping bags. As morning broke and we could feel the warmth of the suns rays we started our hike to the ridge. Anything higher than the lake has no real trail so scrambling and judgement is what will keep you moving in the right direction. After 1.5 hours of upwards scree we were at the col. Amazing views of yearly snow packs and mountain tarns were everywhere. We then followed the ridge to our right and enjoyed the eclipse from a rock outcrop. Although the sun was still too bright to look at we did notice a slight change in the daylight tint but this was really the only indication something was going on. We scrambled our way to the top of the peak where a hidden Cheese Whiz jar had a summit log with a newspaper clip from back in the 1970s. After an hour of the breathtaking views, a well deserved lunch, and a birthday beverage we decided to head back to where we came from. Rather than taking the route we approached with we decided to do a little boot skiing down the snow pack and returned to the col in no time flat. From here we noticed a longer scree section which allowed for a much quicker, safer, and easier descent. The dust was now flying and smiles were all around. Across a bit of a boulder field with fancy foot work before Shannon got her ankle pinned between two boulders and took a tumble. I helped her up and she walked it off like a trooper. In under an hour we had made the full descent back to our tent. Here we lightened our packs by eating what we could, assessed the cuts and bruises Shannon sustained from her fall then loaded up and headed out. Leaving these sorts of places in the mountains always casts a odd feeling over me as I never really know when I will be back to see them again, especially these mountains so close to home as it seems like we are always planning for further away trips.
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