Wallace Lake

I chose a close in hike for the day after Christmas. Before I left in the morning I checked the weather forecast and noticed a warning for winds up to 50 mph in the foothills and western slopes of the Cascades. The current winds at Gold Bar showed as only 5 mph so I chose to take a chance and head for Wallace Lake. I arrived at 9:15 to find... one other car in the lot. There were two others over by the cabins. It's often hard to find any open parking spots. I don't think I have ever seen it nearly empty.

I was soon on the trail. The wind was light and the temperature was at or below freezing. Once I went into the forest the wind disappeared. At one mile I passed a group of half a dozen folks. They were the last people I was to see until I was half way down. I took the railroad grade to the start of the Greg Ball Trail. The route is gentle and smooth and the 2 1/2 miles took less than 50 minutes. It is 5 miles to the lake so I was half way there.

The trail is in excellent shape. With the recent dry weather there was almost no mud on the route. I was pleased to find there was no snow or ice either. In fact, it is snow free all the way to the lake. 1.9 miles of nice forest walking brought me to the logging road. I turned left and went a short way to find a pile of fresh logs just outside of the state park boundary. A short walk in the other direction brought me to the final section of trail to the lake. 6/10s of a mile later I reached the lake. The bridge over the outlet was ice covered. The lake was not.

My plan was to hike to Pebble Beach at the other end of the lake and then on to Jay Lake. Jay is not much of a lake but I had not been there in years and figured it would be an easy extra mile each way. The half mile along the lake went quickly and I reached the inlet creek. Well, there is no inlet creek at this time. I was able to walk up the gravel channel and avoid much of the brush. Pebble Beach is mostly under water at this time. The lake is about as high as it gets. Much of the gravel was frozen. The icy patterns were worth quite a few photos.

I had a quick lunch and headed back to the trail. There is a sign now for Jay Lake. I went a short way and had second thoughts. A little wind began as I packed up at the beach and I didn't want to get all the way to Jay and find a wind storm blowing. Hiking through forest when the trees are breaking off is not a good idea. By the time I reached the lake outlet the wind had picked up considerably.

I hiked back to the road then over to the Greg Ball Trail. Now the wind was howling. As I started down the noise was loud and getting louder. Looking up I could see the tops of the trees bending many feet each way. Not what I was planning on. It was time to vamoose. I picked up the pace. I did see one small section of a tree in the trail that was not there on the way up. It took me only 32 minutes to hike 2.5 miles back to the railroad grade.

Surprisingly, when I was within 1/4 mile of the grade the wind abated. I would still hear it above but the trees were no longer moving. Soon even the sound stopped. I passed one couple on the Ball Trail and they were heading down too. The last 2 1/2 miles were easy. I now began to find the crowds. Nowhere near as thick as on the Woody Trail and at the falls but more than I had seen all day. When I reached the trailhead I found the usual situation. There were only half a dozen open parking spots now.

The forecast was for morning wind dying down in the afternoon. What I got was a calm morning and then all Hell broke loose in a matter of minutes. Adrenaline can really help you pick up your pace. It was nice to do a hike with no snow or ice and blue sky all day long. Just like summer except for the low to mid 30s temperature. A good way to spend a late December day.

Railraod Grade
Greg Ball Plaque
Wallace Lake Outlet
Lake From Outlet
Frozen Cove
Dry Inlet Creek
One Orange Berry
Skunk Cabbage?
Frozen Island
Wallace Lake
Lunch Spot
Frozen Sculpture
Frozen Beach
More Ice
Ice Island
Triail Sign
Widow Maker
Lit Up Moss
Mt. Baring
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2009