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John Guilford's Hikes

Foss Lakes on 1991-07-12

Date: 1991-07-12

Location: Foss Lakes

People: (including myself): Jay Wardle, Joe Tarantino, Rod Nemitz

Start :         2:45		0   miles (cum)
Trail Head:	3:15	1660'	1.5
Trout Lake:	4:15	2012'	3.0
Lake Malachite:	5:55	4089'	5.7
Leave Lake:	6:40
Trout Lake	8:00		8.4
Trail Head:	8:40		9.9
Out:		9:15		11.4
This is the second of the MTO "take the afternoon off" hikes. 

We found that the road to the trail head is mislabeled in "100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes".  The book calls it 6840, whereas the road calls it 6835.  Worse yet, the road is washed out from the flooding last winter.  Thus there is an extra mile and a half in and out.  Not wanting to spend all our time hiking roads, we tried finding the Tonga Ridge trail, but the road to that is also washed out (more like 7 miles each way there) so we went back to Foss Lakes.  The road in to the trailhead is flat and easy (surprise, surprise!).  Immediately after the parking area, there is a gouge taken out of the side of the road, this would be possible to drive around.  However, a short distance later is a bridge over the Foss River.  The bridge is fine, however the bank washed out the approach to the bridge.  There is a gap about 4-6' wide and going all the way down to the river (10') between most of the roadway and the bridge.  This would be hard to drive around.  One edge of the road still connects up to the bridge, so that hikers don't have to jump.  The rest of the roadway is boring, except near the end, where a creek/spillway crosses on top of the road.  This is a concrete apron about one road width wide and 20-30' long with the creek running over the top.  Looking at it, it is obvious that it is designed for the creek to run over the top.  With a car, it wouldn't be bad driving over the top.  I don't know why they didn't use a culvert like they usually do.  Today, the water was about 2" deep and moving fast.  When walking across the water would swoosh up to near the top of the boot on the upstream side.  It is a good thing that we all had waterproof boots. 

Shortly after that, we got to the "trailhead".  The hike into Trout Lake is relatively flat, we a gradual rise.  The trail isn't the best.  A lot of places its pretty good, but some stretches are rough.  The old log bridge across the river got washed out and they put it a new one a bit down stream.  After Trout Lake the trail continues to the end of the valley and then starts switchbacking up the side.  You make quite a bit of altitude gain here.  In general, the trail is poorer here.  There are quite a few creeks (small) to cross.  Most of these have stones or logs, but you pretty much need waterproof boots, as they'll get wet (a lot of the crossing rocks are just below the surface).  You have a couple good views of some big old cedar trees and the waterfalls of the Foss River as it falls into the valley from Malachite Lake and Copper Lake. 

The day was warm with occasion clouds.  I mixed up some Gatoraid for the trip.  In my ignorance, I mixed it up full strength (according to directions).  It turns out that this is too potent.  A better dilution is about 1/2 strength.  Surprising, it didn't taste as bad as I expected, however, I still prefer the taste of regular water better.  I could drink the Gatoraid, but not a lot of it at once.  Next hike, I'll have to try it diluted more and see how that is (I didn't want to waste my plain water in diluting the stuff I had with me). 

At the top of the valley we wanted to find the trail to Lake Malachite (which doesn't have an official trail on the map).  After crossing the creek that came down from Lake Malachite, we found a likely looking track and followed that for a ways, but it quickly died out in huckleberries.  We decided that we really didn't want to kill ourselves trying to push through, so we retreated and headed for Copper Lake.  After a bit, we came to a junction, where a sign indicated one way for Copper Lake, and the other way for Lake Malachite.  There IS a maintained trail there.  We took the turn for Lake Malachite and continued.  About a quarter mile later, there is a real steep climb up to the lake proper.  Then we were there.  Right at the top, Jay ingested a bug with lots of sputtering and coughing.  The lake had a goodly amount of ice and snow still floating in it, as well as snow on the far side of the bowl beneath the surrounding peaks.  We looked for some nice rocks to rest on and saw some on the opposite shore.  There is a large log jam at the outlet side of the lake, and we crossed on that. 

We sat on the rocks and ate "lunch".  There was quite a bit of pollen floating on the surface of the water.  It gave a "scummy" look to the lake.  The bugs started coming out up here.  They weren't biting too much, but were annoying at times.  We putzed around here for almost an hour, watching the currents in the lake.  Tossing pieces of wood into the water.  The lake is deep and real clear.  It was interesting to water the patterns of the sunlight on the submerged rocks from the ripples from the wood.  We found some interesting wood.  It would sit on the surface for a minute or two, then slowly sink to the bottom.  There are fish in the lake (we saw one while crossing the log jam).  Some backpackers arrived while we were there and they set up camp behind us. 

Before heading down, we tried climbing the ridge on the other side of the lake to see if we could see Copper Lake (we couldn't).  The hike down was quicker (and cooler) than the hike up.  The only interesting part was at the spillway in the road.  As we approached it, we were debating whether is was running higher than it had been in the afternoon.  Jay said "No" and started across it.  About 1/3 of the way across he said "It's Deeper".  Joe and I decided not to brave it and went upstream a ways until we could get across on rocks without soaking our feet.  The mosquitos started coming out during dusk on the walk back out the road to the cars.  That was the worst time as far as bugs go. 

Not a bad hike.  It took longer than I had planned (the road in and out saw to that), but its an interesting area that I hadn't been to before. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015