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Ice Lake Basin

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Ice Lake Basin

Postby MarkDidier » Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:56 pm

I'll be in the San Juans the first week of September (Labor Day week) and plan on being in Ice Lake Basin Sunday through Tuesday. A few questions:

Campsites: I plan on camping at Lower Ice Lake and have heard that backcountry tent space is thin. (Being this will be Labor Day weekend I expect it will be even more thin!) Is this accurate? Just looking for recommendations on good spots to pitch our tents for 2 nights. Considering the upper basin is exposed I wasn't planning on having to head up there.

Island Lake: I plan on heading up towards Island Lake one day (maybe V2 or V4). Is there a trail that branches off to Island Lake? I have not seen one labeled on any of the topo maps I have looked at. From the topos though it looks pretty straightforward for getting up into that part of the basin even without a trail.
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Re: Ice Lake Basin

Postby bainhameen » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:05 pm

I haven't been up there but have read many accounts that describe a good tent site in the trees at the far western end of the lower basin. And I understand that the route to Island Lake branches off to the north very soon after the main trail gains the lower basin. I hope this helps.
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Re: Ice Lake Basin

Postby Aaron Johnson » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:46 am

Mark-

A trail does indeed branch off to the right in the lower basin, actually a bit before the lower basin, as I recall. Good camp sites are at the west end of the lower basin by an interesting diagonal waterfall. I have camped there. If you are there during the week, you shouldn't have a problem getting one.

If you want to try alpine camping, providing weather is good (it usually is in September), there's plenty of nice places at the upper basin, and maybe a few at Island Lake. Look at Kane's recent profile photo. It's Ice Lake Basin with Island Lake in the foreground. A trail to Island Lake also departs the upper basin.

Good non-fee sites are available just past the trailhead area on the road. Go over the culvert to the west side of the stream and in the forest to the left are some nice at-large camping areas to consider if the weather is iffy. Have fun!
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Re: Ice Lake Basin

Postby MarkDidier » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:30 am

Aaron,
Good to hear from you and thanks for the info. We'll see how the weather goes and how crowded the lower basin is on a Labor Day weekend. Hoping to be able to grab a good campsite in the lower basin, otherwise we'll evaluate the weather and see about the upper basin. We plan on hitting Golden Horn on Monday, and maybe the NE ridge of Vermillion...we'll see. I'll have 2 1/2 days to explore the basin (Sunday thru Tuesday). Lookin' forward to it. Considering Kane says it is one of the three most beautiful basins in Colorado, I don't think I can go wrong!!!

We plan on hitting Blue Lakes Basin Wednesday thru Friday, with the SW ridge of Sneffels as the main attraction.

Yeah, Kane's pic of the basin is awesome. I assume this is from the summit or ridge of V2, which I hope to hit on Sunday afternoon - weather permitting.

I leave for God's country in 8 days...but who is counting.

I hope you are getting in plenty of trail miles and summits!!! It is always good to hear from you.

Take care,
Mark
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Re: Ice Lake Basin

Postby stevpizz » Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:53 am

Mark, we were there in July. Camped at the very spot Aaron mentioned. Three great sites there all with good cover. Stream with a bridge that runs off that great falls that backs up to the sites.
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Re: Ice Lake Basin

Postby tmahon » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:30 pm

Aaron Johnson wrote:
A trail does indeed branch off to the right in the lower basin, actually a bit before the lower basin, as I recall.


It's a short ways up from the last switchback that cuts left at a massive boulder. Breaks off to the right (obviously) but is pretty faint and easy to miss if you're not looking for it.
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