Black Lake is another incredible
destination within the National Park. The trail to the lake passes
by many other popular destinations. It takes you by Alberta Falls
(summer trail), Glacier Falls, Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, Ribbon Falls
and allows you to remain engulfed in thickly forested sections,
and relieves you with beautiful mountain meadows.
The Lake itself is surrounded by
high cliffs on all sides, with a few waterfalls gently cascading
down the walls. In the summer, wildflowers add a lushness to the
area that makes you want to remain in the wonderful dream world
If you continue around the lake
to the East, you can ascend the inlet streams gully, which takes
you above the cliffs to another world entirely. You can find Blue
Lake, Green Lake, Italy Lake and Frozen Lake up there. It is also
the way to access Pagoda Mountain, and a roundabout way to get up
McHenry's Peak. And if you are up for a very technical climb, you
can try to tackle The Spearhead.
But getting to Black Lake is an
adventure all its own, especially in powder up to your knees.
The Winter trail begins about a
tenth of a mile from the Glacier Gorge junction, and winds its way
through the forest around the Eastern most Glacier Knob. It connects
with the main trail where Icy Brook and Glacier Creek meet, and
where the Loch Vale trail and the Glacier Gorge trail join.
From here you head South towards
Mills Lake, another .6 of a mile down the trail. From the trailhead
to this point, the trail was fairly packed down, but I had to take
advantage of the fresh snow.
After I passed Jewel Lake (just
beyond Mills Lake), I started to leave the trail to cut my own path
through the new snowfall. I would cross back and fourth over the
main trail, probably about every quarter mile.
While there is nothing like stomping
through about two feet of pure powder, it definitely gets the heart
pumping and the legs burning.
I continued to wind my way further
into Glacier Gorge taking as many pictures as I possibly could.
Sometimes, for whatever reason,
I take living here for granted. But, it's days like this that slap
me in the face and remind me why I do. I can't think of too many
things I love more than being out in the mountains on a nice day,
with absolutely nothing to worry about.
The trails begins to steepen a bit,
just before reaching the first of three rises about a mile before
Black Lake. When the snow is as deep as it was, these rises, which
seem like nothing in the summer, become a little tricky.
The first of these hills is not
too long and is fairly easy to get up aside from trudging through
the deep powder. By the time I get to the top, my lungs and legs
burning, I can see the second rise. This follows the path of Ribbon
Falls, which is buried under a few feet of snow, up to the base
of the next rise.
For me, getting up Ribbon Falls
was the hardest part of the snowshoe. For some reason, I could never
get solid footing, and it took twice as long as it should have.
The next leg was probably the longest
of the three rises, but wasn't quite as steep. Plus, I knew that
Black Lake was just about 75 yards away, so it gave me that excited
energy knowing I was so close.
I spent a few minutes at the lake,
soaking in the scenery, and started to get a little cold. After
pushing up that last stretch of trail, then standing in the shade
by the lake, the cold started to creep through my layers. I took
one last look at the scene, and then began the 4 miles back to the
The way down was just as fun. It
gave me a chance to glissade down the slopes that had been such
a pain to get up, and I got talk with all of the people coming up
I made it back to work just in time
for the snow to start falling. I spent a nice evening at work, by
the fire, as another 8 inches of snow fell.