Jan. 27th, 2014

brdgt: (Smiling by ABM)
On Sunday I picked our weekly hike - Lake Blanche, an alpine lake within a glacial cirque in the shadow of Sundial Peak. The pollution has been bad, so we wanted some fresh air, but just hiking a peak for the view isn't a good option, since most views are blocked by the pollution. I heard about this hike on Fitocracy - the view is *up* to Sundial Peak and the snow pack was good enough that you didn't need snowshoes. I did pick up some YakTrak the day before and brought my hiking poles, neither of which were necessary, but definitely helped in expending less energy sliding on snow.

It was 34 degrees when we left the trail head, but with a 1,000 feet elevation gain per mile and walking straight into the sun in a cloudless sky, we were plenty warm.

Lake Blanche Trail

We went from following a canyon stream only slightly covered in ice (just muffling, but not completely hiding the sound of the water) to beautiful stands of birch trees.

Lake Blanche Trail

The trail was nicely packed, but the snow was several feet deep on either side - it was important to not step off.

Lake Blanche Trail

After the canyon and birch trees, we went through several rock slides and avalanche fields - the hike probably made easier by the snow. About 2.8 miles and 2,800 feet elevation gain we finally got to Sundial Peak.

Lake Blanche Trail


Sundial Peak

We had lunch and climbed a bit further up, so we could claim to have gone over 9,000 feet (Sundial Peak is only accessible with mountaineering gear and experience).

IMG_2200

Sundial Peak

You can see the view of Salt Lake City in the distance here - with the inversion covering the whole valley.

Inversion

On the way down we encountered quite a few backcountry skiers (why pay for lift tickets when you can climb a mountain and ski down it?) and two moose! No pictures of them, even though they were less than 30 feet away - camera was too cold, light was failing, and too many bushes.

Lake Blanche Trail

In the end, just over 6 1/2 miles, about 4 hours, 2,830 feet of elevation gain, two moose, and a great day - my first hike that was snow covered the whole time! And all just a 30 minute drive from our home :)

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Brdgt

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