|To me, the rugged splendor of Lake Haiyaha and
Chaos Canyon was the highlight of the trip,
If there was one day I was looking forward to more
than the whitewater rafting it was today. Today we would get into the
park's backcountry a few miles and let the kids see what things were like
more than a couple hundred feet off the road.
We got a decent start on the day with our now customary
breakfast of cereal and fruit. The kids were all pretty good about getting
their daypacks ready while Yumi made some sandwiches and prepared lunch
for the trail. By 10 AM we were on our way to the Bear Lake area, arguably
one of the most scenic in the entire park.
We (read: I) made a minor mistake by blowing past the
sign that told us there was no parking available at the Bear Lake parking
area, resulting in our backtracking to Glacier Basin to catch the shuttle
bus back up. The ride was enjoyable even though we had to stand for the
10 minute trip.
Once off the bus we were treated to a very busy and
crowded trailhead complete with a ranger acting as traffic cop. Not sure
what to do we decided to make the easy half mile walk around Bear Lake
before heading up to Emerald Lake. Bear Lake was picturesue, but teaming
with families, senior's and young children---definitely not my image of communing with nature, but I'm sure our huge tribe detracted from others experiences as well.
After making our lap of the lake we immediately began
the ascent to Emerald Lake---about 2 miles and 700' up. the trail was more
like a blacktopped sidewalk for the first mile and didn't waste any time
climbing. What would have had me gaspng for breath a couple of days ago
was now a walk in the park as we had ample time to acclimatize. We passed
tiny Nymph Lake, all decked out in Lilly Pads, about halfway to Dream
lake. Not bad, but hardly the scenery I had envisioned. Not more than
a few minutes later we were at the foot of Dream Lake. That's better.
It was a little after noon so we decided to push on
to Emerald Lake and have our lunch there. that was not to be, however,
as the trail up to the lake was closed for trail maintenance until 4:30.
It didn't matter. We found a nice rock large enough for all of the kids
to sit and eat upon while Yumi and I sat on the trail and watched a family
of ducks make thier way towards us looking for a handout. They didn't
get anything from us other than crumbs from our turkey sandwiches though
not for lack of trying. One even sampled my boot lace but gave it up after
a few attempts. I was surprised to note that these ducks seemed to leave
Yumi alone---unlike the bighorn's and mountain goats and deer which seemed
to torment her last summer in Glacier.
The view up to the cirque which held Emerald Lake was
very impressive and I was very disappointed that the trail was closed.
Whatever angst I was having was soon replaced by humor watching Nick decide
to jump into the frigid waters of Dream Lake. Yes it was cold and I think
it surprised him. Sabrina joined in and waded a little bit while the others
valued the warmth and security of their rock.
After spending about a hour at Dream Lake it was decision
time. Should we go back or hike up to Haiyaha Lake a little more than
a mile away. The weather was good and the kids were for it so we packed
up, said goodby to "baby AFLAC" and made our way back to the
foot of Dream Lake. En route we saw a Ptarmigan perched on a large rock,
oblivious to the dozen other hikers a mere 50 feet away.
The trail leading up to Hiayaha looked to be more vertical
than anything else. While Todd, nick and Sabrina charged right up the
ridge, Yumi, Melaina and Matt were, well, not into the climb. I managed
to coax them upward until we completed another 400' climb. The reward
was a beautiful vista looking over Storm Peak, Long's Peak and Glacier
Gorge to the west. To the east and far below was Nymph, Bear and Dream
Lakes. A truly impressive sight which almost rivaled our view into the
Nyack from Dawson Pass last year at Glacier. From here it was an easy
walk to Lake Hiayaha.
|A great view looking towards Dream and Emerald
Simply put, Hiayaha was the most rugged and beautiful
lake I have ever seen. Guarded by boulders the size of small cars, this
lake was fed by the remnants of a melting glacier running down through
Chaos Canyon. The kids loved it almost as much as I and had fun tossing
their water bottles down to me so that I could fill them up with filtered
ice-cold water. Again Nick was the bravest as he dunked himself in the
lake while the others were content to get their feet wet and scramble
over and around the boulders.
After spending some time soaking up the beauty, the
trail crew that was working on the trail to Emerald Lake paraded by and
told us they opened up the trail early. since it was only 3 PM the kids
all decided to go back and check it out. The lone dissenting vote was
Yumi who thought the storm brewing to the west might be a problem. I thought
so too but really wanted to see Emerald Lake.
Just as we got back to Dream Lake it started to sprinkle
and we donned our rain gear. What started as a beautiful day was turning
dark, but I wasn't worried as we were prepared and wouldn't be hiking
on any exposed ridges. we pushed onward and mostly upward. Again, Yumi,
Matt and Melaina were not happy to be climbing so I lied to them and told
them the lake was close. For that melaina wrote me a ticket for lying
later that night. We eventually made it to the lake just as the skies
opened, dumping the first drops of what would be a rather hard rain.
Fed by Tyndall glacier and framed by Hallet Peak and
Flattop Mountain, Emerald Lake was gorgeous despite the rain. We couldn't
stay long and had to beat it back down to the trailhead and the relative
warmth of the shuttle bus.
Though Melaina and Matt struggled for energy climbing
earlier in the day, they certainly found their second wind on the way
back down. Though we had already hiked nearly seven miles already, they
practically sprinted all the way down to Bear Lake, leaving me in their
dust---or mud. We were able to catch the shuttle back to Glacier Gorge
and were soon in the van heading back to our camp at Moraine Park.
After dinner at the A&W the kids and Yumi, minus
Todd, went to play mini golf while I checked out some of the outfitting
shopes in town. Todd caught up on his beauty sleep in the back seat. I
spent a half hour chatting with the manager at the Warming Hut" about
the park, hiking and Glacier, where he was headed in a few weeks. Unbeknownst
to us, another massive storm was coming over the mountains, and it was
going to be a good one. Before we knew it the skies opened and it began
to rain like hell. I quickly purchased a filter element for my water filter
and five single serving dehydrated meals for my Glacier trip and dashed
through the rain to the van so that I could pick up the rest of the kids
who were by now chased off the course.
We made it back to camp and were thankful the downpour
had turned to a light drizzle. Pretty much wasted from the long hike,
everyone fell asleep quickly to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the