Decided to celebrate Independence Day with a trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Seeing recent trip reports to Snow Lake, I opted for Lakes and some mountains today, to experience and capture some of the snow and ice conditions and find some amazing blue ice in the lakes.
The trail descending the ridge to Snow Lake is about 3/4 covered in snow. The snow is hard-packed, but I would highly recommend poles and advise good spikes. There were many people ascending the ridge, back from the lake mid-morning and it was often difficult to pass. Most people were in sneakers, and I'm surprised people were not slipping and knocking others off the trail. Once you pass the second-day use and lake access area and head towards Gem lake, people were far and few between. Beware of some of the snow bridges and rock wells, as the snow melts, areas are exposed below and can collapse, leading to injury. Once past the junction to the MF Snoqualmie river/trail, the trail is muddy from snowmelt, and there are increasingly more patches of snow. Past the log bridge, and about a half-mile up, the trail becomes completely snow-covered. Poles and spikes will make the trek up to Gem Lake more manageable. Gem lake is still nearly completely frozen over, with a few patches of light blue along the shoreline.
We opted to continue to push up to Wright Mountain. We found and took the trail along the lake using both All Trails, Gaia, and paper maps. We pass the right for the toilet and found signs for camp spots, but somehow still missed the proper boot path up. We bushwhacked, kicked in many steps in snowfields, and climbed talus fields until we finally reached the summit. WOW - what amazing 360-degree views. This is a stunner. We wore spikes all the way down which made the descent more manageable than the ascent. We found most of the trail down and took a detour to Wright Mountain-Southeast Peak, then finally connected to the trail along the lakeshore, and down to Gem Lake, Snow Lake, and all the way out. Overall a great day. Amazing scenery on the frozen lakes, and surrounding peaks. Stunning views of all the Alpine Lakes Wilderness within view.
Worthwhile continuation from Snow Lake. I wonder how many are aware of the alpine beauty that awaits them if they keep going.
But I know I did it.
Absolutely spectacular! Left the trailhead at sunrise and made it to the lakes in time to catch the morning light and beautiful reflections on both Snow and Gem Lakes, it was magical. Later in the day the lakes looked completely different, the morning time had some real magic this day. No people on the way up, 50 minutes to myself on the summit, and saw probably 200 people on the way down. One of the best summit view points I have seen in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
After climbing Kaleetan from the Melakwa Lake trail we hustled and got to Wright's summit as the sun was setting then walked out via Snow Lake to Alpental. Long day, superbly rewarding.
Fun little detour around Gem Lake
Wow! This is a must for anyone who want to see beauty!! Great views and not difficult at all! Gem Lake is amazing and Wright Mountain is an awesome summit.
did a clockwise loop (w/ car shuttle)from Denny Ck over Melakwa Pass to Gem Lake and Wright Mountain. Exited via Snow Lake.
We went through a few sketchy spots where avalanche danger was, and walked on the lake. Lets try avoiding that one next time.
Turned around due to high avy danger. Was one of the prettiest days I have seen in winter here. Killer views along the way.
Near perfect weather the entire day. The frozen Snow Lake and surrounding peaks were an incredible sight against the clear sky. Had a close call with an avalanche and turned back ~1.5mi from the summit. Though NWAC listed danger at the lowest possible level, the avalanche made it obvious that there was still considerable local avalanche danger. Definitely a good learning experience.
A long hike in lousy weather. Mainly trail hiking just about the entire way with a clear climbers path to the summit. We had heavy rain for most of the trek from Snow Lake to Gem, and got soaked. Pretty good views despite the lousy weather, would definately do it again.
I hiked up and tested out my new bivy sack then tagged Wright the next morning before heading back. I can't remember the exact date and amazingly I can't find it in my book.
A very satisfying peak. I was surprised by how many people were on the Snow Lake trail on a week day. The path to Gem Lake was less crowded. I was distracted by several handfuls of blueberries. After the summit I took a dip in Gem Lake. Melawka Lake near Kaleetan Peak used to be the most beautiful lake I had ever seen. Now it's Gem.