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John Guilford's Hikes

Holden Lake on 1998-07-29

Date: 1998-07-29

Location: Holden Lake

People: (including myself): just myself

			My Alt.	Real Alt.
Start (Holden):	11:45	3220	3220
Wilderness Bdy:	12:00	3280
Leave "Road":	12:10	3420
Creek:		12:30	3880
Creek:		1:20	4780
Holden Lake:	1:45	5120	5280
Leave lake:	2:20	5120
Creek:		2:40	5000
Creek:		2:47	4800
Creek:		3:42	3900
Arrive "Road":	4:05	3460
Wilderness Bdy:	4:23	3340
Out (Holden):	4:40	3280	3220
The day before leaving Holden was my last chance to get much of a hike in.  I was busy during the morning so I only had a half day to do the hike.  I wanted to get up to Holden lake and thought that I could do it in a half day.  My schedule was further constrained by it being a Wednesday which meant that dinner was buffet style meaning there wasn't a 6:15 sitting, just the 5:00-5:45 buffet.  I skipped lunch, bringing some fruit and gorp with me, and took off about 11:45. 

The day was relatively warm though not scorchingly hot as it was earlier in the week.  The trail leads up a south facing side of the valley putting the hiker in a hot sunny location while climbing.  Ideally one would do it earlier in the day when it was cooler, but despite it being hot, it wasn't too bad. 

First one goes up the road from Holden till one gets to the Wilderness boundary.  This leads one past the camp ground and the ball field and the remnants of the Miner's Village (where miners lived during the mining years, but which were torn down after the mine closed and allowed to go wild).  At the boundary the trail narrows down to trail width (instead of road width).  It still is a good path gradually climbing up the river valley.  About ten minutes later the trail to Holden Lake leaves on the right side of main trail.  The main trail continues up the bottom of the valley towards Hart Lake. 

This trail is still in good shape though a bit smaller than the trail on the valley floor.  Here one starts gaining serious elevation, sometimes hiking in the sun and sometimes hiking in shade.  There was more shade that I had been expecting, but I had expected to find little to no shade (so much of any shade was more than I had expected).  The trail heads WNW while switchbacking up the hillside.  At times one gets good views of Copper Peak and Dumbbell Mountain.  One can also see up valley, though Hart Lake lies just beyond a bend in the valley (and hence is never seen).  Looking back down the valley one can see Holden, at least the old mill flanked by two large tailings piles (the third level).  One can also see the south flank of Bonanza peak.  No place along the trail is really very steep.  It keeps a rather gradual slope and makes up for that by switchbacking back and forth.  The lack of steepness meant that I good take a good pace going up without killing myself and that coming down was easy on my joints. 

Not knowing how long it would take me, I set a good pace on the way up.  The bug situation was quite a bit different than on my previous day's hike.  Here the flies weren't bad unless you stopped moving.  While hiking they weren't too irritating, but if you stopped for more than about 30 seconds, they'd start congregating till you had a half dozen or dozen flies flying around and landing on you.  The flies were kind of dumb and it wasn't that hard to kill them.  That was a losing proposition.  In the time it took to kill one fly two more would arrive (not that I didn't try :-).  This tended to motivate me to keep moving and not take long breaks.  In the sunny parts of the trail I wore my Seattle Sombrero which kept me a bit cooler overall, though my hair got pretty sweaty and wet.  In the shadier parts I started taking the hat off to cool my head more. 

Figuring that I could probably make better time going down than up if I had to, I set a mental "turn around time" of about 3:45.  To my surprise I got up to the lake in two hours (which is much faster than my usual time to hike 5 miles and climb two thousand feet, which by my usual reckoning of 1/2 hour per mile and 1/2 hour per thousand feet would be 3-1/2 hours). 

I passed several groups coming down as I went up.  They all thought I was crazy for climbing up the trail in the heat of the day.  One crosses several small, unnamed creeks as one ascends the valley wall, none of which are any problems for crossing.  One pretty much just walk through them as they are so small though they do make a good break for wetting down one's legs/arms/head. 

[ PIX1 ]The lake has some really nice views of the Mary Green glacier on the west flank of Bonanza peak and several tall waterfalls falling into the lake basin.  On the west side of the lake a snow field extended almost all the way to the lake.  I thought about trying to get over there and at least get my feet in the snow.  However, the trail leads one to the south east corner of the lake.  The short way to the snow field would be to go left around the lake.  To do this, however, one has to cross Holden creek which is relatively large.  I went a short way downstream, but couldn't find a good crossing spot.  There was one set of rocks that probably could be jumped, though I wouldn't want to do that while carrying my tripod (which I was carrying on this hike).  Jumping back would be a bit more difficult and missing the rock would have unpleasant consequences.  Instead I started going around the long way (to the right).  On the north side of the lake I decided that I really didn't want to go to all that much trouble just for some snow. 

I had hoped that here would be a breeze at the lake to keep the bugs down, but there wasn't.  Again I found I had to keep moving to keep the flies from getting too annoying.  I had to settle for eating an orange on the run and stopping for some brief pictures.  On the north side of the lake I found a pretty little wild flower meadow, though I didn't dally there too long due to the flies.  I'm told that several weeks earlier when Rich had hiked up there the flies weren't bad but the mosquitoes were.  I'll take the flies over the mosquitoes if given the chance as the flies really weren't biting me (though the did bite Heather, some one I met on my way down). 

After pictures and a snack I started back down.  As I was considerably ahead of schedule and in no rush, I took my time on the descent, taking longer to go down than I did coming up. 

A few minutes from the lake, I met another hiker coming up who was even crazier than I was (i.e. someone who started up even later than I did and also came up in the heat of the day). 

Coming across one of the small streams I thought I'd try something different.  I soaked my hat and let it partially dry and then put it on.  It was definitely cooler that way, though it caused an interesting sensation.  I was warm as I hiked, but the hat dripped cold water down the back of my neck giving me goose bumps. 

The views going down the trail are pretty much just the reverse of going up the trail, though the down hill hiking is much more pleasant than the up hill.  Near the bottom, between the last creek and where the trail joins the Hart Lake trail, I came across a covey of ptarmigans.  I think I surprised a hen near her brood of chicks.  Off the side of the trail I heard high pitched "cheeping" as well as brush movements from the birds moving.  I think I upset the hen who turned to face me and who flared out her feathers at me.  For a moment I thought she might actually charge me, but instead she turned around and started down the trail away from me while clucking.  I followed her down the trail and she stayed a constant distance of about 20' in front.  If I stopped, she'd stop.  When I continued, she'd continue.  I think she was intentionally leading me away from her chicks.  A couple hundred feet down the trail she flew off the side of the trail and "hid" in the brush as I went past.  I thought that this would be the end of the birds but a bit further down the trail I came across another couple birds.  I stopped to pull out my SLR and 200mm lens to get a better shot of the bird just about the time that another bird, in the brush right behind me along the trail, flushed out of her hiding place causing me to jump.  Camera in hand I again followed the bird on the trail down hill.  I'm not sure if this one was intentionally leading me or just trying to "escape" along the easier line of travel, namely down the trail.  I felt bad about "chasing" it, but I had to go that way to get back down the trail.  Eventually it too left the trail and I passed on. 

Back on the main trail (the Hart Lake trail) I bumped back into Heather who had caught up with me on the way down (and who hiked down while reading a book!) who accompanied me back to Holden


[ PIX1 ] Holden Lake, Mary Green glacier on Bonanza Peak

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