John Guilford's Hikes
Pinnacle Lake on 2003-05-26
People: (including myself): Myla
Real Alt. Miles
Start: 12:07 2660 0
Bear Lake 12:15 2776 0.3
Ridge 1:15 ~3400
Pinnacle Lake: 3:05 3790 1.9
Top of Ridge: 4:30
Out: 5:05 3.8
The road into the Bear Lake/Pinnacle Lake trailhead was in surprisingly
good condition with few potholes. The day was partly cloudy and partly
sunny - a good day for hiking. It was warm enough that a t-shirt was warm
enough while hiking though a bit chilly for resting. During breaks I put
on a long sleeve shirt. We picked this trail for our Memorial Day hike as
we expected it to be considerably less crowded than something like
As we started up the trail from the road we were a bit disconcerted to hear
some yahoo blasting away with a semi-automatic rifle somewhere in the
vicinity. The only comforting part was that as we continued up the trail,
the sound of the gun shots got quieter. I might guess they were further up
the road from the trailhead.
In a few minutes we hit Bear Lake and took the short side trail to the lake
itself. Bear Lake was virtually ice free. Returning to the main
trail, we started up the switchbacks to the ridge top. I was using the
hike for a conditioning hike, so I had packed considerably more than I
needed for this hike including five liters of water, extra boots, two ice
axes, and treking poles.
From Bear Lake on, the trail got muddier and rougher with increasing
snow patches. We took our time
ascending to the ridge top. At the ridge top the slope evens out a bit,
though you still ascend. Here we started hiking in more consistent snow,
starting off being half snow and half mud and ending up being entirely snow.
Along the ridge you can detour a slight way off the trail and look down
into Bear Lake. Near one of these overlooks, we found some dry logs and
stopped for a snack of a couple apples. The break probably ended up being
about a half hour before we continued. Myla hadn't really done any serious
hiking in the snow before. We tried her out with one of the ice axes (more
for use as a "third leg" or cane. This didn't work out that well. On the
way down, we replaced the axe with the treking poles and that worked out
much better, possibly because she was more used to ski poles.
The route was relatively uncrowded. We had maybe six or eight other
parties pass by. I was surprised to see that most of the parties had
brought dogs along. I guess people with dogs wanted to avoid the crowds at
other hikes and came here. Unlike my previous hike here on
2001-05-26, we had no trouble finding the
route and soon found ourselves descending the last bit to Pinnacle Lake.
Unlike Bear Lake, Pinnacle was almost entirely ice covered.
Here we stopped for our lunch break on a dry log next to the lake.
Myla was a bit surprised at how fast we retraced our path back to the
trailhead. Both the downhill and at times the snow aided our
progress. Despite leaving Pinnacle Lake 45 minutes later than we had
originally planned, we made it back to the car only five minutes behind our
Some notes on footgear: despite not having waterproof boots, Myla's feet
stayed reasonably dry except for the toes due in part to the gaiters. I
wore my heavy climbing boots instead of my normal, lighter weight pair, to
get used to them again for some planned summer glacier climbs. I had
really used them in years (since my Rainier climb). I was pleased that I
could do the whole hike without blisters.
John in front of Bear Lake.
Myla on snow on the ridge top.
Bear Lake from the ridge top.
Myla descending to Pinnacle Lake.
John on our "lunch log."
John descending a steeper patch of snow.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015