Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Mary Lake, Margaret Lake, Upper Florence Lake 8.13.03

Upon reaching the end of the Icicle Creek Rd. I filled out my permit and noticed that a substantial area is closed due to fire. The whole Leland Creek drainage is now off limits. As I took off the Icicle creek dustbowl under pleasant temps, I hardly gave the fire any thought. If it wasn't for the constant sound of choppers I wouldn't even have thought about it again. The plan was to go to Margaret lake using the old trail, which forces you to do a ford of the Icicle. I was unable to find the trail on the other side so I returned to the Icicle creek trail for the extra hour that the new trail forces on you. I did notice along the way for a short stretch the most birds I have ever heard, there must have been thousands. I am guessing that they may have been swallows. I do know that swallows usually return to the same spot each year, and I also have been to Swallow Lakes which is in the affected fire area. So it seems to me that assuming the birds were swallows seems reasonable. Once I crossed the Icicle on the footbridge the trail meanders easily to the 3800ft mark where it joins the old trail to the lake. I passed a horseman at around 5000ft which spooked the dogs, neither had ever seen a horse. The dogs ran down the trail until the horseman realized if he didn't stop he would scare the dogs all the way back to the car. I dropped pack and climbed down 200ft of precious elevation to retrieve my babies. I reached Margaret Lake to find the last camp site still open, I have never seen so many people at an alpine lake. The camp site did not suit me so I set off to Mary Lake. I saw some more campers just east of Frosty Pass, but lucky for me there was not a soul at Mary Lake. I set up camp and ate a much deserved meal. I did fish Mary and caught many small cutts. I think the fish can spawn in one of the inlets to the lake keeping the population high and the fish small. I tried to stay up late to watch the meteor showers, but as usual I fell asleep before it was really dark enough. I did wake at 3am to see one of the brightest and most beautiful moons I have ever seen. In the morning I quickly ate and was off to Mary Pass and on to Upper Florence Lake. Upper Florence can boast of some pretty big rainbows I caught a couple of 14"" and tried all day to coax a 18-20"" that I saw cruising. I actually think the fish was taunting me, he would follow me around the shoreline only to swim away as soon I made a cast. I did find a way trail that leads to Alice Lake but I did not follow it. I talked with one man who was having some real navigational problems, it is good thing I set him along the right way. I then ran out of time so I had to return to camp. Just after cresting Mary Pass I ran into a family who I stopped and talked to for ten minutes ( a new personal record ). We swapped fishing stories about area lakes as well as routes to get to them, thanks for all the good info! I returned to camp to find 2 groups totalling 9 people at the very small Mary Lake. I broke camp in record time and hit the trail. I was hoping to find the old trail so I could cut an hour of time. I found it without any problem and had no trouble following it. The trail has very many blowdowns but they are very manageable. I lost the trail when it crosses Frosty Creek at 3100ft. Instead of backtracking to find it, I thought it is less than a 100ft why bother. Well there is good reason that the trail continues on downstream before crossing the Icicle. The area is extremely brushy and swampy, not to mention it is difficult to find easy going once the Icicle has been crossed. I did finally manage to find the trail on the other side. I very thankfully started the long dusty way out. I ended up getting out near the same time as I would have if I would have stayed on the new trail. So much for saving an hour!

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