Hike to Pine Lake

On Sunday, Dad and I set off for a hike to a new destination: up the Pine Creek Trail to Pine Lake. An estimated 3 miles up to the lake, 6 miles round trip, this was a KICK-ASS hike!

You have to start the trail by heading out of the Pine Creek Pack Station and up into a wooded area. Everything was so green and lush because of all of the water coming off of the mountains. The high elevation wildflowers are starting to peak their heads out and fill the green with splotches of colors, but it’ll be a little more time before we get a full blossom.

Soon enough, you’re out of the wooded area and zig-zaging up the side of the mountain. There are few trees to shade you at the point, so the sun is beaming down, you’re heading straight up and definitely feeling the burn. Along the way, every so often, there will be a spring and/or a waterfall to cool yourself off and take a break by. It’s a necessary replenishment as you continue upwards.

As you get higher, there’s still snow packs blocking small portions of the trail. I figure by next weekend, with this heat, the majority of those packs will be melted probably. But we had to navigate our way around some awkward obstacles with a steep drop below us.

Staying persistent, you reach the upper wooded area and know you’re getting close. Pine Creek, which is the giant waterfall you’re following and getting closer to as you trek up the mountain, is now right next to you. There was a sign for a Footbridge and a Stock Crossing, but the water is moving so quickly and with such strength, there is NO WAY someone is making it across that river. No need to even try!

Even though the trail continues on the other side of the river, we kept on our side and continued to follow the river upward, knowing we’d hit the lake soon enough. We had not planned to go on any farther to the back country lakes, such as Lake Italy and others.

After some small rock hopping, we made it to the lake and it was as beautiful as I had imagined! Blue and deep and we had it all to ourselves – no one else had made it that far for the day. We enjoyed the sun and the cool wind, as below us in the valley, temperatures were over 100 degrees and we had it at a perfect 80 in the high country. The water was far too cold to swim in, but later in the summer, we’ll be heading back to swim and camp up there for a few days.

I’m sore as hell from the whole excursion. It was definitely a challenge and not a hike for people just getting used to the high altitudes or not avid hikers. Take it slow and steady, careful around the rushing water, plenty of food for energy (fresh water can be found in many places on the trail, thankfully!), a walking stick and a good hat for shade.

Thank you Mother Nature! This was a phenomenal experience.

11Gotta be careful when crossing! 10Fresh water, straight out of the mountain. We filled our canteens on the way up and the way back down. 1Favorite shot of the day, I think! 9More flowers! Always more flowers! 6You can bet credits to navy beans I’ll have a billion of those yellow flowers in my garden next year! 34What a view!5The whole hike was like climbing 2,000 flight of stairs or so….6Snow is still melting everywhere7Waterfalls8Water everywhere!7They were everywhere. It was beautiful! 8Not even at the top yet, but what a view! 12What vibrant color1314He was such a shy model, but so sweet1516Such a spectacular trail17Let me just get my things…

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