Lake 22

Time for a birthday hike. Folks were busy two days before Christmas so I headed out alone. It was set to be a clear and very cold day. I did not feel like a slog in fresh snow so I looked for a lower elevation trip. I make it to Lake 22 most years. I was s surprised to see that my last visit was back in July 2015. Almost 2 1/2 years had gone by. The crowds have become enormous so I always plan to arrive early ahead of the crowds. Reports from just a day before mentioned a little snow at the start. I hoped my sedan could get in and out of the lot if it had frozen over. Everything was likely to be frozen as the early morning temperature in Granite Falls was 26 degrees. The trailhead would be colder. The 2015 trip was a very hot 85 degrees. This day would be more than 70 degrees colder. This would not be the coldest Lake 22 hike. Gwen and I did it on 12-7-13 when it was 5 degrees at the lake. That was the second coldest day I have had. This would just be numbingly cold.

I was not out the door as early as I had hoped. I was on the road at 8:00 am and at the trailhead at about 9:10 am. The lot was covered with packed icy snow. I had no trouble getting parked. I just hoped it would not warm up enough to leave mushy slush to get stuck in. There were 4 or 5 parking spots left but the lot was nearly full already.The trail start was icy packed snow. I put on microspikes immediately. 100' later I was on bare gravel. I started up the trail at 9:22 am. Sometimes you just can't win. The lower trail was a mix of bare ground and packed ice. I kept on the spikes. Fresh snow flocked all the trees. That made for a very beautiful hike.

I passed a few folks early. Some others left just ahead of me and I did not catch up. That was impressive considering how icy the trail was and their lack of traction devices. I had great traction. I did stock often for photos. I was not alone. On the bridge over Twenty Two Creek a photographer had a tripod set up. Across the creek the snow cover was greater. Still, there were bare patches. There were also a few logs to duck under. Not difficult but I seldom see trees down across this trail. They will probably stay until next summer now.

I was glad when the trail was entirely snow covered. My spikes provided great traction. Though it was well below freezing creeks were running. I stopped to redirect water off the trail in two places.  At the last switchback before the open slopes I turned off to see Twin Falls. In 2013 they were frozen solid. This day they were flanked by fresh snow but running. Soon I was back on trail heading higher. The rocky switchbacks up the open slope were easier than in summer. Smooth icy snow covered the rocks. With microspikes it was just a smooth white trail. Good views across the valley. Peaks there were covered with fresh snow up high. It was very scenic.

Once back in forest there were a number of small creeks to cross. With waterproof boots I just slogged on through. All could be rock hopped easy enough. At the avalanche chute I could see lots of grass higher up. Not enough snow this day to be a problem. Later in the winter this spot can be dangerous. As I turned into the lake basin the temperature noticeably dropped. It dropped a lot. I reached the lake and headed over to the bridge over the outlet. I arrived at 10:55 am. Nice views of the ice and snow covered lake with the steep back slope with white snowy highlights. The very top of the ridge was bathed in sunshine. That was the closest the sun came to the lake all day. I checked my thermometer and it read 14 degrees. yes, it was very cold.

I decided to do a clockwise loop around the lake. Avalanches come down the near vertical slopes at the far end of the lake during winter and spring. The snow is still so thin that a loop is very low risk. I would not try it with winter depth snow. Large parts of the round the lake trail are on a raised narrow boardwalk. Snowshoes have packed down a trench but it is not wide enough for two people to pass. Passing was... interesting. Two folks were coming towards me. I poked the snow just off the boardwalk and found a solid spot. I put half my weight on it. So far so good. Three quarters of my weight, still feels good. All my weight and then my back foot sank in. Over I went in slow motion. Down several feet head first into the snow. Getting up was a challenge. Getting back up onto the boardwalk was a challenge. This was not my most graceful move. Now I had wet gloves and it was 14 degrees. That is one reason I carry at least four pairs on any winter trip.

Heading around the lake provided good views of the lake and the wall behind it. I stopped numerous times for photos. A jacket was mandatory but I kept my puffy layer in my pack. Just so long as I kept moving. i stopped at the far end and checked my thermometer. Now it was down to 13 degrees. Operating a camera was not easy. Keeping feeling in my fingers was not easy. I stayed just ahead of another group as I did not feel like stepping off the boardwalk again. I took almost exactly one hour to hike around the lake. One more stop for views from the bridge and I was on my way down by 12:00 pm. While the crowds were much less than in the summer a steady stream of groups was coming up to the lake. Many times I found a small spot off the trail to wait for groups to pass. Just part of hiking a very popular trail.

I made pretty good time going down even with the many stops to let folks pass. With microspikes I had great traction. I took them off in the last half mile then stopped to put them back on. The bare rocks on the trail were coated with a thin layer of ice. I made it back to the trailhead at 1:07 pm. The lot was now completely full. The temperature never made it up to the freezing level. My two wheel drive sedan backed uphill from my parking spot just fine. One trip report mentioned counting 52 cars in the lot. I have a hard time figuring how that many could fit.

The trip was exactly what I was looking for. A pretty easy drive and a snowy trail but not deep enough to require snowshoes. At least not deep enough if I stayed on trail and in the trench at the lake. There was no more than a couple feet of snow at the lake and less in the  trees. The heavily flocked trees looked great. The wall behind the lake was scenic with snow to highlight the dark rock. Twin Falls was a nice compromise as water was running and the falls was surrounded by fresh snow. Even the crowds were not all that bad. 13 degrees were really cold but the wind was very light. Cold but bearable. Most of my trips to Lake 22 seem to be on really hot or cold days. This one qualified as cold.

Icy Parking Lot
Icy Trail Start
Icy Bridge
Looking Up
Twenty Two Creek
Icy Steps
Big Tree
Twin Falls
Closer Look
Both Falls
Open Slopes
Peaks Peeking Out
Three Fingers
Snowy Peak
Favorite Trees
Sun And Shade
Suns Shines Through
Avalanche Chute
Approaching Lake
Lake & Backdrop
Outlet Bridge
Snowy Boardwalk
Sun On This Point
View From Inlet
Looking Straight Up
A Little Sunshine
Heading Down
Heavily Flocked
Back To Icy Bridge
Still Below Freezing
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2017