Monday, September 1, 2014

return to white pine lake

It's a cliche, of course, but time does fly and since we've been out in Utah, it seems to go by fast than ever.  Case in point: Labor Day weekend, the meteorological end of summer.  We can scarcely believe that it's September - it seems like we just got started on summertime!  Rather than sitting around and moping, however, we got out and did a hike on Saturday.  Since I have hopes that we might climb Lone Peak this fall (which is a long and arduous hike up a mountain that looms over the Salt Lake valley), I thought it would behoove us to do something a little longer, something in the ten mile range.  White Pine Lake fit the bill.

No bluebird skies today

White Pine Lake is, with the exception of the Catherine's Area loop I do through Alta, the hike we have done the most; this would be my fourth time up it and H's fifth (he did it last year without me when our friend Paul came to visit).  We didn't get a particularly early start this time and the popular trailhead was pretty full by the time we got up there, to get on trail just before 9 a.m.  The skies were a little threatening too: cloudy, with virga appearing across the valley.  Although we prefer blue-sky hiking, we figured we'd give it a go and see how far we got before the rain set in.

Lots more water than we expected

H's legs were feeling really strong and he set a brisk pace; I couldn't quite keep up with him, but managed to keep him within sight for the duration.  We passed a ton of people on the steadily-climbing old jeep road: thirteen for me and sixteen for H, because I ran out of real estate before passing the last three guys.  White Pine Lake seems slightly less popular than Red Pine Lake, I think because the round-trip is longer, although RPL is much steeper.  WPL only gets steep right as you come out of the woods and start the switchbacks through the boulder cirque.  Up at the lake itself, we were surprised at how much water was there - August's rains had done a great job filling the lake, as the lake level was easily ten feet higher than the last time I'd been up there, even with this past winter's subpar snowpack.

Teensy tiny bit of snow still up in the cliffs

We only paused for a few minutes because we were getting chilled, and on the way down the only people who passed us were a group of trail runners, bombing their way down the mountain.  With half a mile to go, it started sprinkling on us, so we timed it just right - good thing we'd been walking so fast.  We stood under the open hatchback to change out of our boots and drink our post-hike beers, watching the low clouds swirling around the canyon walls above us.

Charging up through the meadow

Hike stats:  10.48 miles round-trip; 3.0 m.p.h. moving average speed; 2,529 feet of elevation; 3 hours 29 minutes.

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