I had been keeping a watch on the weather forecast for several days and finally found a beautiful blue sky day to take a stab at hiking up to Blanca Lake. Only trouble was my favorite hiking partner Travis was scheduled to work. Party pooper. Looked like a solo trip was the order of the day. The drive to the trailhead was complicated several years ago when a major flood took out a chunk of the Index Gallena Road. The detour added many miles of gravel FS roads and a trip up over Jack’s Pass. All of which was navigated on this day before the sun came up.
A quick glimpse to the mountains the evening before revealed a blanket of snow down to about 2500 feet, so this was clearly gonna be a “winter trek” when (or if) I got up to the ridge above the lake at 4500 feet.
I had attempted this hike a few years before and was turned away by the weather and the snow, so I had no expectation that I would make it this time. I decided to just start hiking and see what conditions looked like as I gained elevation. Oh, and gaining elevation was definitely on the menu for this hike! The trail switchbacked steadily for several miles up through old growth timber before entering the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Area. From the wilderness boundary, on a ridge top at 4500 feet, the trail drops down to a tiny little mountain lake called Virgin Lake. Then it continues to descend another 600 feet down to Blanca Lake at the foot of the Columbia Glacier.
After about an hour of climbing I hit the first signs of snow. It was November 1st on the calendar, but up here it was officially WINTER!
Eventually I made the ridge and got my first peak at Virgin Lake…Nope, no virgins.
From Virgin Lake things got a little sketchy. The trail basically scrambled down a shady north facing slope through the timber for another mile. Note: I didn’t post a bunch of photos because I didn’t want my mom to see the treacherous, off-camber, broken shale, ice-covered pathway and get mad at me for being way up there on my own…whew! That was a close one.
But eventually, I made it. I tromped around just a little bit but as soon as I had a few images it was time to turn around and begin the long trek back.
That’s about it for this trip. Hope you liked the photos. Kat