August 12th, 2019: The big day! Our long, tough hike up to the Ice Lakes Basin!!!

The big day. Had a hearty breakfast at camp and geared up for the big hike. Headed out to Ice Lakes Basin. Lots of breaks to catch our breath on this steep trail, but I never felt my heart beating TOO hard. Veronica did great too – she appreciated the breathers as well. Made it from 9,750 feet to 11,220 feet in three miles of walking to the big meadow. The meadow has waterfalls all around, booming in the distance.

Walking through wildflowers in the big meadow, leading to the Ice Lakes basin

There was so much snow still on the high peaks to support the waterfalls. We had 3 major creek crossings – I gave thanks for my Goretex La Sportiva boots which stayed perfectly dry throughout.

We made the final push up to 12,260 feet over one mile up a very steep trail along a huge rock outcropping and cliff. I remember that when I did this section in 2012 with Levar, my heart was practically in my throat it was pounding so hard – so I definitely feel better about what kind of shape I am in.

Coming up the trail’s steepest ascent
A waterfall next to the 1000-foot-gain steep part of the Ice Lakes trail

Upon reaching the crest of the ridge, we were greeted with a 180 degree view of very high, knife-edged peaks with lots of snow on top. Ice Lake itself was an unreal shade of blue. We even saw one wild person run in and run right back out again. The temperature of the water had to be close to freezing.

The view from atop the ridge
The unreal blue of Ice Lake
The knife-edged peaks topped in snow all around Ice Lake
Ice Lake blue
Ice water
Our traditional photograph in the same spot for all family members
Veronica at the water’s edge
A classic Veronica shot

We heard pyka or marmots squeaking in the distance. We walked above and beyond the lake to its inlet where there was still a big unmelted snow bank. We then started hiking down under the threat of a rain cloud. It was very steep going down – I took it slow and steady, using the hiking poles to ease the impact on my knees.

Veronica at the snow bank

We saw groups of marmots squeaking on the way down. We made it down in 2 hours (it took us 3 going up). The muscular soreness really started making itself known. By the time we were back in camp I was super sore.

We made a dinner of Udon noodles with mushrooms, red bell peppers, onion and Thai peanut sauce. It was so good and satisfying after a hard day of hiking. Veronica made us a fire and I provided the kindling. We sat by the fire for a long time talking. We finally went to bed around 8 p.m. I slept kind of restlessly.