Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hiking Lake Blanche during the Winter and early melts

I left the Redrocks for a while, I've been up north on vacation in Utah near the Wasatch Mountains, and there is one trail that I have done in the summer but always wanted to do in the winter and especially at the beginning of the winter melts.

I finally got to do it this past weekend and let me tell you it was an awesome adventure!! Beauty, Adventure, Rush & Thrills and a lot of Fun! Let me tell ya about it.



Lake Blanche is roughly 7 miles on an out and back trail in the Twin Peaks Wilderness area of Big Cottonwood Canyon. It's a very popular trail, especially in the summer.
According to AllTrails, they rate the hike as difficult, but for an experienced hiker, you'll likely find it more on the higher end of moderate.



You'll be starting at around 5,800 feet in elevation (estimate) and you'll hit the at lake 8,900 feet. So yes as you make your way up, it's climbing uphill from the very beginning and it really never lets up as you make your way up and climb nearly 3,000 feet.



It's a great trail for the legs!!! You'll feel them for sure!  You'll feel your lungs, even more, it's a great workout! Oh, and when you see the views, you'll see why this is one killer workout you won't mind, as they are stunning!!

The start of my hike in the lower mountains, so beautifully green and lush right now.



This is actually the stream which most times of year doesn't have very much water running down it at all. But right now the spring melts have been in full force and this stream, well it would give most whitewater rivers a challenge as you can see. Definitely not one you'll want to cool off at this time of year!



As you quickly make your way uphill as you climb, within a short distance you'll be presented with gorgeous views like above.



This time of year, it was mostly dry the first mile. But then it got a little wet and muddy in the 2nd mile as the snow run-off is basically turned the trail into a little bit of a stream. If your feet don't get wet then, they will later!

Eventually, I hit this snow probably at around 7,500 feet, at first, it wasn't too bad. But around 8,000 feet the snow got a bit deeper.



I had about a good solid mile of climbing through the snow. It was definitely passable and pretty slushy at points and I made it in a regular hiking shoe, but funny story. I've never hiked in deep snow like that before, at least not in distance.

I mean, I've done snowshoeing many times, but that is different and a little easier. Trudging through a heavier wetter snow in higher elevations, yup, it got my lungs working oh my it did!
I brought plenty of water, and I definitely went through a lot of it!

It was a perfect day though, I brought a long sleeve shirt and even a jacket, but didn't end up needing it. I was sweating bullets enough on the way up, I was comfortable in my t-shirt!



So this trail was a bit different than how I am used to it in the past.
In the past, the trail veers off to the left and goes up near the side of the mountain. Apparently not in the winter, everyone was going what looked like straight up over this pass.

I kid you not, the picture doesn't do it justice, this was one steep climb. A little slippery, but kicking my hiking boot in to make a more secure step, I won't lie and say I was fast, but boy was it cold! As I didn't bring gloves and at times yes I did need to stick my hands into the snow to brace myself from slipping back down.

Okay, here is the most awesome part of this, the waterfalls. They were everywhere, gushing in some places shooting out of the mountain and disappearing into the snow, coming out later again. Oh my gosh, it was stunning. Unfortunately, not many of my waterfall pictures turned out, I blame a cell phone camera on those. I only took out the nicer camera up on top, LOL



I climbed up this pass, which normally I am not sure I would do without the snow, the deep snow filled in the steep canyon granite cliffs. I could see down near some of the rocks where the water was melting and there was still a good 8-10 feet of snow under in places. Only the taller peaks were peeking out of the snow.

The waterfalls were running right underneath me, I could hear the water it was pretty cool to hear. Of course, in the back of my mind, I absolutely didn't want to fall through to the water flowing under the snow. I saw a few footprints of others who had stepped in the wrong place and broke through, and ya I didn't want any of that.



After, I finished what was nearly 100 feet of climbing nearly straight up, maybe even higher. I got up and realized, I still had quite a ways to climb to get over to the lake.
Yes, I was pretty tired at this point, but oh so close!



I shouldn't admit this, but yes I was hiking alone. But you're never really alone out on this trail like I said it's popular and there were people nearby me quite often on the trail.



The views, when I got there, absolutely worth the climb!!! Everything I had imagined and more! It was absolutely peaceful with the exception of the rushing waterfalls around. The lake still mostly frozen over, with a few pockets of the ice melting away. It was seriously picturesque.
Especially with Sundial Peak in the background!!!



Going up may have been exhausting but I'm going, to be honest, going down that steep snow was much harder. I had wished I had taken my hiking poles on this one!

At one point on the steepest part I slipped and let me tell you how fast you go with a 25-pound pack on your back when the snow is slushy and slippery, LOL  On my butt then back...
30 feet down, in less than 2 seconds. LOL LOL (25-pound pack only because I'm training for Grand Canyon and trying to get used to carrying heavy weight.)



In my t-shirt without gloves, I think you can imagine the freezer burn on my arms, my hands stung pretty bad after that. (You can totally see my body slip marks in this shot above, LOL)

But then I realized, it might just be easier to go a little slip and sliding. So I took my long sleeve shirt I bought, wrapped it around one of my hands so I could use that as an anchor to keep me from freezing too bad when I'd go to stop myself and avoid any rocks, deep holes or tree's near the bottom. I did slide my way down most of that 100+ feet and it was a rush and so fun!!!



The rest was back the way I came, and I decided to snap a few photo's along the way back.
In fact that first snow picture of the steep wall of snow to climb. I took that literally laying on my back as I did that first accidental slip LOL



Gorgeous hike, and the absolutely perfect day to do it! Couldn't have asked for anything better.
It took me about 4 hours for the entire round trip hike, I wasn't rushing. However, I'm in pretty good shape with my R2R2R training so it could take others 5-6 hours depending on how many breaks you take.

Here is one more of my favorite views of the lake! The one I only imagined how it would be til this day. Pictures never do the views justice, let me tell you it was just gorgeous!



If you visit northern Utah around the Salt Lake area or live here, I highly recommend this hike. Especially in the summer. But if you're a bit more of an adventure seeker, I'd recommend it in the winter or spring as well!

So tell me, do you have a hike or place you've always wanted to visit at different times of year to see how it looks?

Anyone who reads my blog hiked this before? What time of year is your favorite?




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