July 04 2020
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.