Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Lake Julius, Loch Eilenn, Lake Donald

I was hoping for a nice couple day out in an area that I have really yet to explore. I used the Gale Creek Trail to access Lake Ethel. You must cross the railroad tracks in Merrit, too bad for me there were 3 trains playing three card Monty. While I waited the 30 minutes for the trains to swap their positions I packed and repacked trying to figure why I was carrying so much extra weight. After finally putting the trains behind me I followed the old road to the trailhead near 2500ft. The Gale Creek Trail is in good shape as climbs substainally to around 5700ft before dropping to Lake Ethel. Lake Ethel isn't really much to look at and there are enough campsites to house a small army. Since I still had plenty time I pressed on using the Upper Roaring Creek trail to access Lake Julius. I was pretty much worn out from the 4000ft of climb I had already put in so I nixed my plans for camping my first night at Lake Donald. I set up camp in a somewhat secluded spot and treated myself to a well deserved nap. I intended mearly scouting the route for the next days hike to Lake Donald, but before I knew it I had found the fisherman's trail and was on my way up. The fisherman's trail is found leaving from behind the privy at Loch Eileen. The trail is easy to follow due to the numerous cairns. After staying for only a moment I headed back to camp. I was amazed at the fact it only took me 75 minutes round trip. Without my heavy pack I felt as if I was running up the steep trail. I had planned to go to Larch Lake as well as Cup Lake in the morning. I struggled mightily up to McCue Pass even though the climb is not long or steep. When I reached the pass I noticed quite a bit of smoke drifting my way from the North. I decided that without fully knowing the fire risk, I would head back to camp and out. I saw one other hiker who had camped at Lake Donald, I think he came in by motorcycle via the logging roads that crisscross the area. That certainly takes alot of work out of getting to this beautiful area. All in All it was a productive trip, hitting 4 lakes that I have never been to. There was a substanial 7000ft of climb most of which was done with a pack that was much too heavy. Just to make matters more interesting I was again blocked by trains on the way out. Lucky for me it was only about a 15 minute wait this time

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