Saturday, October 8, 2011

A waterfall and lake beneath the crags

Location: Near Gold Bar

Distance: 8.2 miles

Elevation gain: 2,000 feet

Mount Index is a fierce-looking mountain on my list to climb but today wasn’t the day to take it on so I settled for exploring the waterfall and lake beneath its imposing crags. The trail was relatively flat for the first 1.7 miles, leading me through towering mossy maples and alders and over a series of tributaries.

A right at the junction led me up several wooden ladders and staircases until I could hear the roar of Bridal Veil Falls just around the bend. The water tumbled over a smooth granite slab to the rushing river below. I’d been told to expect a “Bridal shower” instead of Bridal Veil Falls but the splash came nowhere near me, even though I inched my way out to the boulders for a better camera angle. Hoping to beat the crowd that arrived as I stood admiring, I walked the half mile back to the junction and took the left to Serene Lake.

I wound my way through a basin and caught a second glimpse of the tumbling water before the trail steepened and my thighs began burning. I gained probably 1,300 feet in just over a mile but the views of Skykomish Valley below were well worth the work. This was one of the hikes where I was continuously sure the lake was about to pop into view. Eventually a wooden sign directed me to the lake, which was tightly tucked into a snowy basic just beneath the stark walls of Index. The clouds and mountain walls reflected in the water was just what had been promised: serenity.

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