Crystal Lake backpack

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This time of year you can have Crystal Lake to yourself.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Special note: I forgot my camera today; now THAT is going light!. So all photos in this report supplied by Dave. Thanks, Dave!

I've hiked to Crystal Lake about a billion times, and every time it's a wonder. This time we were really wondering what we were doing; it was scorching hot down low, but we were going to camp at the lake IF we could find a spot without snow.

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Ruby was in heaven. The side creeks were all running, and so were the squirrels. Marmots, even.

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When we got into the meadow, we found a snowbridge across the creek that supported my fat ass, even with a pack on (Note: with all the heat, not so much on the way back, but at least I didn't fall through).

At the pass, there was less snow than we anticipated. We were able to make it up most of the hillside on bare ground.

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And then we were at the lake. Sweaty, for sure.

And the lake was totally open.

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For comparison, here's a picture of the lake from this day, 2020. Trailhead

We tried some fishing, without much luck. I read my book. Then I fell asleep on the slab you see here. I've been working way too hard recently, and apparently needed a break.

That night, despite NOAA not predicting even a chance of precipitation, it rained hard and the thunder rolled.

 

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The next morning seemed like the fish would be hungry. Not so much, apparently.

But with a belly full of coffee, I needed to do something. Dave cringed slightly when I suggested a 30-minute hike up onto the snowy shoulder you see here just left of the peak. Not because of the destination.... it's this "30-minute" thing I have.

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Over the shoulder, we spied some open water. Looking at the map when we got back home, it does show a little lake. New territory!

And in the background, through the trees, one can see an open hillside, which I was pretty sure would lead us up Clair Peak.

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We went up and over the top of the peak, then to the lake above Crystal.

And from there, up another rocky ridge seeking more views.

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As we headed down the rocky slabs back towards camp, I was reminiscing about being here in 2001 with my youngest, Jasmine.

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So twenty years later this is my attempt to recreate that scene. She's much better at showing her appreciation of this wonderful country than I.

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Dave's Day 1 photos

Dave's Day 2

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Hand-drawn map

 

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Epilogue: When we got back to Dave's house and Ruby got out of the truck, she went crazy.... a marmot had hitched a ride inside the engine compartment. It's still there......

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