Snow Lakes

Trail No. 1553

JULY 2, 2008  I distinctly remember saying that I would never hike this trail again after coming down it from a traverse of the enchantments last year.  It has the dubious distinction of being the only trail I've ever cried on.  So, having unfinished business with this trail, I chose it for the first and most strenuous hike of a 4-day hiking vacation.  The forecast called for temperatures in the upper 90's, and it was a hazy, cloudless morning as I started up the first of many switchbacks.  Few people were on the trail on a Wednesday, and I found the solitude and quiet a soothing change from the city.  As I rounded a bend on the trail below Nada Lake, I encountered a nanny goat and kid standing on the trail.  It was completely unexpected, and the goats thought so, too, judging from how quickly they scurried off the trail.  They posed for a couple of pictures then disappeared into the woods. 

I stopped to filter water at Nada Lake, then continued up the trail to Snow Lakes.  There was water flowing over the dam between upper and lower Snow Lakes, and the lakes looked much different than they did last September.  I remembered lower Snow Lake as a marshy pond in the woods, and the water in upper Snow Lake had been lowered, leaving a "bathtub ring" around it.  For this hike, the lakes were deep, blue, and sparkling in the sun.  I hiked about half way around upper Snow Lake, past the point where the trail starts to veer away from the lakeshore, until I reached my turn-around time. 

There were lots of bugs at Snow Lake, so I tried a new bug deterrent that claimed to be "naturally derived."  This particular product seemed to make them really angry, and they came after me in droves.  They followed me all the way across the dam and then dropped the chase.  The rest of the hike out was non-eventful, but a storm was moving in as I hiked down the last several switchbacks of the trail.  I was tired, hot, and sweaty by the time I reached the trailhead, but I was glad to have conquered this trail. 

14 miles

4200' elevation gain