Friday, August 27, 2010

The Amazing Crypt Lake... And Trail

On Saturday morning I was a bit unsure about what to do. There had been off and on showers in the early morning. I had planned on hiking Crypt Lake, but was uncertain because you can only access the trail by a 10:00 boat and a 5:30 return ride. If it started pouring, I would be stuck in the rain for hours with no shelter. With the weather being so fickle, I decided to go for it and wow am I glad that I did.

After taking boat across the lake, I set out. Not after long, I met these two couples from Calgary in their late 20's/early 30's. They provided good company up the trail. The trail had a lot of switchbacks, both at the beginning and at the end.

There were four different waterfalls, including one that was at least 300 feet high!! As we hiked, the skies cleared allowing for some great vistas and picures.

Once breaking the treeline, another set of switchbacks appeared, ending with a creek crossing setting us up for some pretty dramatic climbing! Beyond the creek was a cliff walk (2-3 feet wide) that led to a steel ladder up 10 feet or so. Then you had to pass through a natural tunnel that was 60 feet long, began at 7 feet high and ended at 4 feet so you had to get on all fours! After exiting the tunnel, there was another 100 foot long cliff walk where the edge was only a foot or two wide. In this case, there was a steel cable to hold onto. Beyond that, a piece of cake to the lake.

It is seemingly called Crypt Lake because surrounding mountains loom over you in about 300 degrees of enclosure. The walls of these mountains are almost cliffs, so you do feel enclosed. When I yelled "Yes" upon reaching the lake's shore, my echo could be heard for 6 or 7 seconds! Very eerie..

This lake was extremely cold (about 40 degrees). I waded in to cool off, but one guy on the opposite shore jumped in off a cliff! On the way down, we took a detour to see Hell Roaring Falls, a cascade within a gorge. That trail was extremely steep but had some of the most delicous wild raspberries (thimbleberries?) that I have ever tasted.

Once I returned, I found everyone waiting for the return boat, looking quite exhausted and spent. Dropping the feet in the lake was great for the feet! On return, I grabbed an awesome burger (Kootenai Burger from the Bay Shore) and had a local brew - a Big Rock Grasshopper to finish off a wonderful day! My new friends from Calgary - Michael and Bari invited me over for a campfire at the campground.

The total hike was 11 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet reaching 6,300 feet.

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