Alpine Creek Lakes

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A rarely-visited drainage with over 50 lakes, Alpine Creek is astounding.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

I had been looking for a trip to do with Jazz, my 14 year old daughter. I found a trip report on the internet that discussed a drainage out of Alturas Lake that sounded promising, and one that I had not visited.

We drove up Saturday morning and started hiking at about 10am.

Alpine Creek

The trail starts out following a flat valley. Then, according to the map, after about 3.5 miles it stops. However, it does continue on as a use trail. In fact, if you are paying attention it splits. I was aware that it had split, and that we were on the "wrong" fork. But it seemed like a good trail and there were lots of lakes in either direction.

At the fork, the trail starts to climb in earnest. As we moved up the valley, we walked right under Perfect Peak.

Perfect Peak

It took us about four hours to finally reach Lake 8523, about 5 miles in. That's our little blue tent under the tree in the center of the picture.

We had a leisurely lunch. Then Jazz opted to rest while I went exploring. I navigated around a ridge and into an adjacent drainage, following it to the top. Then I hopped over a ridge and followed the drainage back to our camp. The next morning, Jazz and I back-tracked my route.

Lake 8523
So here we are, early the next morning, heading up the use trail that goes up our drainage. There is a cool waterfall, but to see it you may have to click for a larger version. Waterfall

We passed several lakes on our way to Lake 9167 at the top of the drainage.

Lake 9167

Then we climbed the separating ridge to Lake 9050.

Lake 9050

Getting around Lake 9050 required traversing some ledges over the water. Jazz makes it look easy.

Then we followed the other drainage past several more lakes, and finally back to our camp. We had lunch, and I again took off for another explore.

Jazz traverses the cliffs

I really wanted to see Lake 8522, our original destination. By following the map, altimeter, and my nose I was able to navigate from our tent to this point, with only a talus-hillside traverse between me and the lake.

Route to the other drainage

This is the biggest lake in the drainage, and quite wonderful. Not a soul in sight. And lots of lakes further up the drainage.... alas, I was out of time and had to head back to make dinner.

When I got back, we enjoyed some more reading and writing (Jazz was prolific, putting down 25 or 30 pages of fiction). Gazing at the awesome vista, we gaped as a huge bald eagle soared right over our lake, sailing a shadow over the cliffs on the other side like a large airplane.

Lake 8522

We got up early the next morning in anticipation of heading for home. As we sat having our breakfast, a young deer walked right into our camp before noticing the intrusion. She backed up, did a slight detour to about 50 feet away, then ambled on past.

After packing up, we headed back to civilization and (happily) the trappings of a teenage girl: hair straighteners, cell phones, clean clothes, and e-mail.

The trail home

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski