Lake 22

After a long drive and hike the day before, I wanted to do a shorter one on Memorial Day. I needed to be home by early afternoon for a get together. Lake 22 is always crowded on weekends. I hoped that the last day of a three day weekend with an early start would minimize the crowd on my way up. I was out the door at 6:30 am and arrived at the trailhead at 7:32. The lot was about 90% full. Good thing that I did not sleep in. I packed up and was on the trail at 7:37 am. I started just ahead of one group. Within a few minutes I was passing three more groups. I hoped it would not be like this all the way up. Things did improve. I passed one more guy before the bridge over Twenty Two Creek. After that the crowds dissipated. I passed only a couple groups in the next mile. I was not far past the bridge when I met the first group coming down already. Some folks really did beat the crowds.

I had on shorts and a long sleeve shirt. It warmed up quickly. I would have changed into a short sleeve shirt but I was in a good spot between hikers and did not want to have the crowd catch up. For that reason I passed by the short side trail to twin falls. In the last year the old boot path has been hacked into a trail. For the first time I could now see one of the falls from the main trail. I will miss the solitude at the falls but it is well worth letting folks find it now. When I reached the boulder field I popped out into the sunshine. It was much warmer. At the second switchback I caught up with the largest group I saw all day. About 10-12 hikers in all. The trail is narrow but they stopped to let me by. They were soon out of sight. Though the snow is long gone, most of  the creeks were still running. I rock hopped a number of them but the level was low enough to keep my feet dry in low tops.

I felt like I made pretty good time as I neared the lake. I stopped to check the time. It was 8:42  am. A time of 1:05 to cover 2.7 miles uphill seemed pretty fast for me. Once at the lake I quickly recalled why this hike is so popular. The big rock wall behind the lake had waterfalls coming down off of it. There is still snow at the base of the wall. The whole deep basin surrounds the lake. It is a pretty place. After a few photos from the outlet bridge I headed around the lake clockwise. On the trip to Fragrance Lake the day before I looked for marsh marigolds in the boggy spots along the trail. I had not seen a single one so far this year. That changed immediately on the trail around the lake. There are a whole lot of blooming marsh marigolds. Nice white flowers with  yellow in the center. I can check one more off the list for this year.

There were a number of groups already at the lake. They were spread out for the most part. There was very little wind which provided some good reflection shots in the lake. At the back of the lake I looked for an unoccupied big boulder to climb up on. The first good one had people on top. The second one was also occupied. I stayed on the boardwalk. You can walk out to rock slabs by the shore but it is still quite muddy. You would soak your boots and create a quagmire. A little farther along and found a sloping rock that proved good views and a great place to lie down in the sunshine. The east side of the lake was in shade all morning but the rest of the lake was in sunshine. I arrived at 9:00 am. A major benefit of a short hike is that I could stay at the lake for a while and still get home early. So I did.

A steady stream of hikers passed by. One group headed for a very big boulder and they all climbed to the top. Other folks went over to the snow field for a chance to play in the snow. I just laid back and enjoyed the morning. There were only a few small clouds in the sky. Finally, at 9:45 am I headed on. I soon came to the only snow on the entire trail. Maybe 30' of flat soft snow. It won't last long. As I followed the trail a snowy peak came into view over the outlet.  It looked a bit like Three Fingers. My new camera has a telephoto zoom range to 720 mm, the longest I have owned. I zoomed in and could clearly see the lookout atop Three Fingers. So much for my memory. At home I checked my trip report from last October and I posted a photo I identified as Three Fingers. I guess I figured it out last year and again this year.

Different spots along the trail provide very different views of the lake. I ended up with a lot of photos as usual. I reached the outlet at 10:13 am. Time for one more stop on the outlet bridge. The lighting had changed since my first visit. The back wall was not so dark now. Several groups were getting ready to leave the lake so I headed out ahead of them. Almost immediately a big group was approaching the lake. That continued to happen all the way down. The parking lot is not that large and the highway is signed "no parking" on both sides of the road and the entrance to the parking lot. And still they kept coming. I passed 7 or 8 groups heading down and many dozens of groups coming up. The difficulty is a combination of the sheer number of groups and the narrowness of the trail. The boulder field is rocky and narrow. The forest has many narrow wooden walkways. Passing is difficult. I had good luck in the rocks as I could trust my steps and go much faster than most. Since most all the narrow wooden steps had dry ditches alongside them I could pass there. Somehow I managed to keep up a good pace even with many stops to let folks go by.

I just planned on a slow descent as this is normal for Lake 22. I reached the bottom at 11:17 am. 1:04 was much faster than I expected. The parking lot was full and a number of cars were just sitting waiting for someone to finish and open up a space. Since I passed something over 130 hikers heading up in just 1:04 it is clear that there were far more hikers than the lot could have brought. Both sides of the short exit to the highway had cars on both sides. No room to pass there. On my drive out I found that any spot that did not have "no parking" signs had cars parked. Folks were parking more than half a mile away and walking along the side of the Mountain Loop Highway. In the other direction they are filling up all the day use parking like Gold Basin Mill Pond. This has really gotten out of hand. I had to come to a full stop on road as a car was coming in the opposite direction and hikers were walking in my lane.

Time to end this rant. It is a beautiful lake. I will still go in the winter and on weekdays. I may even go earlier in the morning. It cannot be much fun to hike a trail that is that crowded. On the other hand, I have had dozens of trips this year where I have seen only a few other folks. I am glad that Snow Lake, and Blanca Lake, and Mt. Si, and a few others sop up so much of the crowds. That leaves so many places where I can have solitude. And every once in a while it is good to do a crazy crowded hike to more fully appreciate all my other trips.

Twenty Two Creek
Narrow Trail
Into The Open
Three Fingers Mountain
Many Steps
View Down Lake
In The Shade
Nice Reflection
Big Waterfall
Reflected Green
Marsh Marigold
Back Side Of Lake
A Few Clouds
Waterfall Above
Zoom Shot Of Lake
Kids On The Rock
Last Snow Patch
Hiking Near Lake
Three Fingers In View
Three Fingers Lookout
Crowds Arrive
Last Look At Lake
Panorama Shot From The Outlet
Panorama Looking At The Outlet
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019