Alpine Lakes Traverse: Part III

37 lakes in 9 days by jason hummel

A nice fire for a cold night.


DAY FIVE: Deception Creek

Drizzle pattered the top of the tent when I woke up. Drips slipped through the cracks and dripped on my forehead. Outside the fog hovered low. None of us were excited about staying long, so instead of making breakfast, we packed up for the slip and slide to the valley bottom. There, under a canopy of trees we did finally cook a late breakfast, and the last of our food. We were going to be early, really early to our meeting Later that day Christy's parents were dropping off a food cache.  

When I think back, it is comical how we must've looked when we finally did arrive at the parking lot. Four yahoos, packs and gear to one side and a fire. We had managed to entertain ourselves for awhile. Eventually we ran out of entertaining things to do. We eventually hiked down the road to see if we could get cell phone reception, which we didn't. The second time we hiked even further and Christy was able to reach her parents. They were sorry, they said, but unfortunately they were going to be a few hours late. Christy wasn't happy, and I felt bad for her parents, but five hours in the rain would put anyone in a sore mood.

There was excitement when they arrived with pizza. Not so much when we realized that four packs, and all six of us would have to squeeze into an Isuzu jeep. In high school I remember a contest where different classes competed to put the most people in the smallest car. While we may not have won, second place would've been given for effort.

Earlier in the day, Jessy and I had decided that we would cut a few miles off by skipping most of Tonga Ridge, and accessing the trail further down the other side. Our risk was that the road would end or not exist anymore. Fortunately that risk paid off and with two hours of light left, food and dry clothes packed, we thanked Christy's parents for the ride, and headed off once more. Thus would begin the second half of our journey.

The Low-lying swamps soon to come were a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They hounded us like we were a fast food joint next to an overweight convention. A measure of how bad it was goes like this: if you have to wipe rather than slap then you know its bad. Again, "If you ain't wipen' then it ain't bad."There was plenty of wipen' but we were still serving big macs at the drive through.

By dark we found the perfect spot to camp. It was next to a creek. There we built a small rock ring and a fire, made a few seats, filtered water and went about setting up camp for the night. We felt like kings when we dried off and ate. Our fingers were crossed wishing for sunny rays in the morning.

  Jason, Jessy, Christy and Josh.

DAY SIX: Tuck Lake, Tucks Pot, Robin Lakes,Granite Potholes, Trico Lake

We awoke to thick clouds. No rain, but there was a promise in the air that we were pretty sure Mother Nature wouldn’t renege on.

The meadows going to Deception Pass were much nicer than I had expected. Having had low expectations for this section, I think I may be overrating it. No mater. It is your impression of something that is important. Not someone else's to sway your convictions. The flowers were in full bloom, the wind calm and day early. I really wanted to take time to picture everything, but I didn't. In fact I have only a few photos from this section at all. I guess I spent more time enjoying the hike and surrounding scenery. 

From the top of Deception Pass, we dropped a bit before climbing up to Tuck and Robin Lakes. The hike is on a nice climber's path, which leads you up quickly. It's my kind of trail. The sun decided to play with us. One second sun, the next clouds, followed by rain and then sun again. We have a term for this. It's the "Ha, ha Sun." Cause every time it appears it goes, "Ha, ha, just kidding."

There's a break in the climb when you reach Tuck Lake. Another mile or so of uphill follows before Robin Lakes appear. There was no more kidding around with the sun. It was gone. Fog hovered over the lakes, and made for a dreary afternoon.

Over the years Robin Lakes has had its fair share of wear and tear. Having been going to the Robin's since I was 6 years old, I have a fondness for it, and hate to see the damage done. Maybe my story will convince a few people to look at other areas, and not coalesce around the same favorites (as maybe I should). There are many, many other places to go. Sometimes you just need to look outside the box, and try something new. Beauty is about perception. My perception is often skewed when I happen upon a place I'd saw on the map, scouted, and finally laid my eyes on. This is often so much better than the familiar.

There wasn’t a lot to do at Robin since the weather was so bad. At least it didn't snow. We played cards and later shrugged on our coats and climbed Trico Peak. This consumed much of our afternoon. We picked berries and made pancakes and syrup which didn't turn out very good. Otherwise, we watched mountain goats climb up granite fingers reaching out into the lake.

A tree Conk.  
Steambank arnica, clasping arnica and Chrisy walking by.
Josh near Deception Pass. Photo: Jessy Hummel This place was pretty nice.
Christy crossing granite slabs.
Mr. Goat over looking the Robin's on a foggy day.
Mr. Goat climbing up granite bedrock.
Christy making breakfast. Yum. Blueberry syrup.
Jason and Upper Robin. Photo: Jessy Hummel Jessy and Upper Robin.

DAY SEVEN: Granite Potholes, Phoebe Lakes, Lake Leland

In the morning the weather wasn't as gloomy, but we weren't about to take chances. We decided that the lower we went, the better, even if only a little bit. In light of that decision, we continued on to Granite Potholes, one of many groups of tarns in the area. It was a few hundred feet lower and much warmer than the Robins.

After camp was established, we lazed about until the day warmed. It was still cold to me, but Jessy spotted a cliff and couldn't help but climb up to it and jump in. He was cooled off quick, but ready for more (why wouldn't he be?). With Josh in tow this time, they both stood on top and before I go on, let me remind you of what I said earlier about DAY SEVEN. This was the day Josh was to get hurt. His due was t-3 seconds away. He and Jessy flight off the lower Granite Pothole's cliffy shore into the water below was fun to watch. The little brother was perfect again, but Josh landed too far back and sideways. As he comes up, he calls for Jessy who keeps a close eye on him while he limps to shore. We weren't sure that he would be able to hike out the next day or even the day after for that matter, but hoped for the best. Obviously, it was a bad idea to jump a cliff like this so far out in the backcountry, but brothers will be brothers, and we're a competitive bunch.

Later on Jessy and I try and scout what we could through the fog and clouds obscuring our view. Deep valleys, each with their own assortment of lakes, surround us. From the map, we decided to traverse the Northside of Granite Mountain where an obvious pass was located. This was on the opposite side of what we'd taken as kids to an unnamed lake above Kalonqua Lakes. We'd hoped that this way would be better than going around the other side. I was fairly certain it would go, but a map can lie, especially if I allow it too tell me a story I want to hear. I can squint a little too hard and see what I want too.

Jessy and Josh heading for Granite Potholes.
Josh above Granite Potholes.
Baby goat. Baby goat two.
Jessy Hummel with Phoebe Lakes below.
Josh and Jessy jumping into Granite Potholes.



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