Another adventure run into the Emigrant Wilderness, this time a spectacular off-trail loop departing the Pine Valley trail at Louse Canyon and including Hyatt Lake, Big Lake and Pingree Lake (complete photo album here). It’s about 9 miles on trail up Pine Valley from the Crabtree Trailhead to Louse Canyon where we left the trail and headed downstream. After about 0.5 mile we turned uphill and picked up an old use path to Rosasco Lake. Rosasco is largely surrounded by fir trees but soon after the landscape opens up into wide open white granite which is the hallmark of this region (in fact, this area of granite is one of the most striking on satellite imagery).
Pingree Lake is beautifully situated among the granite slopes with clumps of pine trees positioned atop intricate inlets, peninsulas and islands. Above Pingree we reached a small pass with breathtaking views down to Big Lake. The sheer expanse of smooth, glacier-polished granite is amazing and unlike anything I’ve seen before. Big Lake looks incredibly inviting from above and after an extremely pleasant run down the granite we were at the lakeshore enjoying a snack. Unfortunately, a stiff breeze and unseasonably cool temperatures kept us from swimming in any of these lakes. On the plus side, however, the cool and breezy weather kept the mosquitoes at bay which are notoriously aggressive in this region. The cool weather also allowed us to make fast progress as these granite slopes are entirely exposed and can become a frying pan in warmer conditions.
The stretch between Big Lake and Hyatt Lake was my favorite section with a continuous slab of granite arcing across the entire basin, a stretch that I called the “Granite Highway.” We traversed the smooth granite with delightful views high above Cherry Canyon. Soon enough we were at spectacular Hyatt Lake, easily one of the best alpine lakes I have visited. Another massive granite formation buttresses the northern shore, strikingly white and smooth. I traversed around the lake shore to its outlet where I saw a bear swimming in the water. When it noticed me it quickly scampered out of the water and ascended the cliffs like a pro rock climber. I snapped a few photos and admired the lovely scenery. From Hyatt Lake, we ascended the granite formation on the north slope with more fantastic views and then traversed over and down into Louse Canyon, which contains some unique granite pools. On the way back, instead of ascending Louse Canyon back to the trail, we went up through a pass and picked up the trail at Groundhog Meadows. The Emigrant Wilderness has proven once again to be a spectacular destination and I already have ideas for future explorations! Complete photo album here.
Complete photo album here.