Monday, July 21, 2008

Lake of the Angels

We had an incredible hike yesterday to Lake of the Angels in Olympic National Park (headwaters of the Hamma Hamma River on the east side of the peninsula). It was a long day but totally worth it. I think it's the steepest hike I've ever done (only 8 miles round trip, but straight up) and I'm feeling it today...

(scroll down for more pictures)

Actually, it was longer than 8 miles b/c the road to the trailhead was blocked by a huge landslide. So we parked and walked the rest of the way up the road to the trail. A good warmup, because once we got to the trail we started gaining elevation pretty quickly. Parts of the trail were a little hairy - climbing/pulling yourself up over roots/rocks. Fun!

Eventually we emerged from the forest up into the subalpine. Lots of great wildflowers (avalanche lily, glacier lily, paintbrush, lupine, shooting stars). Since we had such a long winter, a lot of the flowers are just starting to emerge and there's still lots of snow up there. The sound of water was constant -- the streams meandering over the soggy, spongey ground and also the thundering of the waterfalls pouring off the cliffs.

We thought we were close to the lake...but no. Quick re-fuel of almonds and chocolate and then, more climbing. Hiked up a snowfield, then up trail again, up, up and finally got to the higher basin. At the lake, we found a big rock by the water and broke out our lunch. Almost immediately we were greeted by a bunch of mountain goats. I've only seen them up close like that once before, on a hike with Bobby in Glacier Nat'l Park in MT.

The goats just seemed very curious. They weren't aggressive. The babies were the cutest. Now, for you conservation sticklers out there, I know MG's aren't native to the Olympics, they were imported from the Cascades. So technically they shouldn't be here. But...did I mention how cute the babies were?

One of the best parts of the day was my quick swim in the lake. It was so hot and we were covered with mud and dust and mosquito bites, so the water felt wonderful. It was so clear -- and cold (pure snowmelt), so I didn't stay in for long.

We hung out on the rock, watched the trout swimming around, watched marmots through the binocs, took more pics of the mountain goats when they came back (even more of them this time) and then started back down the trail.

All in all, a beautiful day. We stopped in Olympia for dinner, and got home at midnight. Looking forward to more sleep tonight!

Here are some pictures:

Michael at the landslide/road closure

Foxglove along the road (we were surprised by the big flower on top - have any of you wildflower experts ever seen a foxglove flower open up like that?)

Hiking up...

And up...

Jill, Michael and Elise

Rewarding view of Mt. Rainier as we continue up the trail to the lake (look closely and you can see it)

Waterfalls (that white blur you see in the distance)

Michael and Jill find frogs in the streams

Stream in meadow flowing under the snow

The lake!

Jill at the lake

Mountain goats (I think I took about 87 photos of them. Here are just a few)

Two babies

2 adults, one baby

Adult and baby (it was cute, sometimes the adults would give the kids a nudge when they were reluctant to cross the stream)

Contemplating their next move (MGs are very agile on rocks, but they don't seem to enjoy getting their feet wet)

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