Alta Mountain

Rachel Lake ~ Lila Lakes

Rachel Lake Trail No. 1313

AUGUST 16, 2008   Alta Mountain was on my list of hikes to do last year, but on my last backpack trip to Rachel Lake in July of 2007, I packed up early and went home because the bugs were so vicious.  The bugs were no less fierce for this hike, but I was determined to reach the summit of Alta Mountain.  The weather forecast called for temperatures in the 90's, so I got an early start.  The trail to Rachel Lake is still the same steep, rocky trail it's always been, but this year that last "mile from hell" seemed less cruel, and I reached the shores of Rachel Lake in a respectable 2 1/2 hours.  I stopped at Rachel Lake to enjoy the scenery and replenish my water supply, then hiked up to Rampart Ridge.  I love a ridge walk, and Rampart Ridge is like a walk in a beautiful park.  It has stunning views, beautiful trees and wildflowers, and it's one of my all-time favorite hikes. 

I was forewarned about Alta Mountain's false summits, so there were no surprises in that respect to discourage me when I reached the summit ridge.  The views were unbeatable as I made my way over the false summits to the true summit at 6250'.   Highbox Mountain dominates the landscape on this trail, but I was delighted to see Mount Stuart in the distance, as well as several other peaks I recognized.  It's always a pleasure to meet old friends on the trail!  The only blight on the scenery was the distant smoke from the Jack Creek fire.  There was almost no breeze, and the bugs were mean and plentiful.  As I neared the summit, I passed a group of downward hikers who begged me for bug spray.  I've never had so many bug bites at one time, even though I stopped repeatedly to apply deet.    It's a small price to pay, however, to spend the day on Rampart Ridge. 

I hiked down from the summit ridge via a way trail that drops down to Lila Lakes.  It was described in a WTA trip report as being less steep, and it lived up to that promise.  The trail I hiked up to reach the summit ridge is very steep, but it enjoys spectacular views as it charges up the mountain.  I stopped for a short break to enjoy the sight of Highbox Mountain looming above the deep blue Lila Lakes, but the bugs were fierce there, too, so I called it a day and headed home. 

12 miles roundtrip

4000' gain