Lake Serene is a great early season
hike. Bridal Veil falls are best with melting snow run off. The lake sits
is a dark and cold basin below Mt. Index. Best of all the huge crowds of
summer are not yet out. Since my industry takes off Good Friday as a holiday
the crowds were even less of a problem. Fortunately Lyn was also free so
I had company on the hike. The weather was supposed to improve as the day
went on so we didn't leave Seattle until just after 9:00 am. By 10:30 we
were at the trailhead and found there were only two other vehicles. The sky
was mostly gray with a big blue hole right over us to start. The lower section
of the trail had more flowers than I expected. Bleeding Heart, Salmonberry,
Trillium, yellow Violets, and a strange flower I did not recognize started
almost immediately. The new bridge a short way along is an interesting make
shift job that worked well. A new path avoids most of the slick mud getting
to the bridge. Farther along the flowers continued and there were several
patches of Skunk Cabbage.
We reached the turn off for Bridal Veil falls and took
it. I always see the falls on the way up. If I waited until the way down
I would probably be too pooped to go on up. The falls are spectacular. Plenty
of water coming over them but not so much to overwhelm you. We walked right
up to the base of the largest falls. It was especially nice to be the only
ones there. No crowds to get in the way. After the falls we dropped back
to the main trail. and headed over to the base of the lower falls. We crossed
the big wooden bridge and stopped at the base of the falls. It was now noon
so a small lunch was in order. It was easy to rock hop the creek at the
falls base without getting wet feet. From there the trail gets down to business.
The trailhead description said there are 23 swithbacks. It seems like a
few more. The trail was surprisingly dry with all the rain we have had.
An internet site at Baring listed 164 inches of rain since October 1, 2002.
I wore gaiters but really did not need them. The many wooden stairs were
just as I remembered them. Unlike most stairs on trails, these were mostly
sized for average hikers. By that I mean the steps are not 18 inches tall.
After the switchbacks the trail starts a rightward
traverse over to the lake basin. I was surprised to find that there was
no snow along here. The lake is at only about 2500' but last year at the
end of May there was plenty of snow well before the lake. In fact, in my
two previous trips on the new trail I had not seen dirt on the last 1/2
mile to the lake. The trail is a bit rocky but very easy to walk. Shortly
before the sign near the lake we hit snow. Other than to provide for a short
snowball fight it did not amount to much. As we entered the basin it became
noticeably colder. My thermometer read 49 degrees at the start and 36 degrees
at the lake.
We no sooner sat down than we heard our first avalanche.
Mt. Index is nearly 3500 feet above the lake. The face is virtually vertical.
The avalanches continued to come down every 1 to 2 minutes all the time
we were at the lake. This is one of the best places I have been to see so
many avalanches. Best of all, it is completely safe. We quickly put on most
of our clothes and sat down to finish lunch. The lake is frozen over but
is rapidly thawing where the sun hits it. A thrown rock showed the lake cover
was more slush than ice near us. We went across the crazy bridge over the
outlet. If it was there last year it was under snow as this was the first
time I have seen it. There is some snow around the lake but there is plenty
of bare dirt to sit on as well. Soon after we packed up and headed back.
We saw 5 or 6 parties on the day. There was a brief drizzle at the lake and
at one point coming down. Neither was enough to get very wet. This was a
great day to see a big falls, a neat lake, and lots of avalanches. In the
middle of summer there will be little water over the falls, no snow, no avalanches,
and far too many people. This is a great trip to do on a quiet day in the
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Photo Page 2
Index Town Wall