Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Silver Lake: Another Fabulous Saturday Hike!

The Hiking Guide book featured the Silver Lake hike as "moderate", which is one step up from "easy". After last week's hike, we were up for the challenge! We decided we would get up early Saturday morning and hit the trail bright and early.

So around eleven o'clock, we backed our Subaru All-wheel drive vehicle out our driveway and headed south. About an hour later (stopping for picnic goods along the way...fried chicken strips, crispy apples, cheese and energy drinks), we were driving up a rocky road through the forest to the Silver Lake trail head.

Our timing, in the end, proved perfect! Oh what we would have missed if we had headed out any earlier!

The guide book said the hike up would take about two hours and we would go through alpine meadows with frolicking moose.

We didn't see any moose....we did share the trail with a few dogs, a returning Boy Scout troop and a few toddlers though.

You take what you get...moose apparently do not feel obligated to frolic just because they were touted as doing such in some guide book. They probably don't even get paid when they do appear.

I'm such a SoCal girl: I still stop and take pictures of any falling water.

We were looking closely for any signs of fall.
This one small aspen was strutting its colors, but it was a one tree show. Everything else was stubbornly summer green. (In the distance: Mt. Tipanogas, with glacier snowfield atop.)

Our destination was the foot of this Lone Peak. The trail was manageable, but the final ascent had me ready to give up if the lake didn't appear just around the bend.

Happily...ta da!
Silver Lake!

The water was quite low, which allowed the submerged rocks to reflect beautifully upon the lake's surface.

Rocky beaches, either oceanic or lake, are so much more interesting than plain sand beaches.

Bernie hiked on around the lake's edge as I angled for just the right shot to capture the lake's beauty.

I kind of like this angle...

Across the way the mountains seemed determined to shed down into the forests. How long will it be before that ridge is no longer above the timber line?

We assisted with a family photo shoot early on the trail; Mom, Dad and "three in December" baby boy got to the lake just a bit after us. The boy had his very own hiking stick which he sort of used as he raced about. Most of the hike he had enjoyed the scenery from his high up seat on his dad's backpack. No wonder he still had energy at the end of the trail!

Later a couple of college age loons, er, I mean guys were jumping off that tall rock, their splashes were immediately followed by screams. The Scout Master we passed on the trail told us it had been below freezing at the lake the night before. You think that water was a tad cold? I suppose some people would have considered it to be invigorating. To each their own!

Bernie tossed a lure at the fish, and in a few minutes the first catch of the day was reeled in.
The fish were fighters, you can see the fish at the base of the rock.

Nice brookie!

I shot about a hundred pictures....

Thought about what a nice watercolor picture this scene would make...

Followed the tiny eight inch wide and half inch deep feeder streamlet up into the brush.

Got high up enough to get both B. and another Nimrod plying their skills upon the lake fish.

Then I found a comfortable rock on the shore where I plopped down an inflate able pillow and took a snooze.

Not a deep sleep mind you. I just enjoyed being a few feet from the stream so the sound of the water clicking over tiny pebbles lulled me enough to relax.
Each time I opened my eyes, the lighting had changed slightly and I'd take another picture.

My pillow and rock chaise lounge. It fit my body perfectly! No bugs either!

Bernie caught four fish, which was the daily limit. I love it when he wears an orange tee shirt with gray pants: it is such an artistic backdrop for freshly caught fish portraits!

Now I could just swear that ridge has gotten lower while I slept...
As I mentioned earlier, I was not bothered by any insects at the lake. A few little black bugs landed on our gear, but none pestered me at all, and I didn't even have on insect repellent.

Then...suddenly...in the blink of an eye...the air was filled with tiny white insects that seem to drift through the air.

Bernie called out to me, rousting me from a slumber: "Jill...it's a hatch! The mayflies are hatching and there is a rise!"

We had never seen the phenomenon before: the lake now had become the stage of a fish ballet. Trout were leaping everywhere on the lake, their mouths opened hugely as they lunged through the air at the passing mayflies.

The white specks in the photo above are the mayflies. The vertical white things are jumping trout!

The hatch followed the edge of the setting daylight on the water. I raced to the far shore to get as close to the fish as possible.

Each ring in the picture above marks the movement of a rising trout.

These feisty fish got air borne!

Five fish leaping at once in this shot: Fish ballet indeed don't you think?

The sound of the fish leaping was simply wonderfully amazing!

The lake was nearly completely in the shadows when we left. The temperature quickly dropped and we packed up for the hour long hike back down the trail.

Now remember I said earlier that we had been keeping an eye out for any fall color change as we hike up the mountain?

Remember I said that we only saw one golden tree? Well, this is how the mountainside looked on the way down.

We kept looking at each other, stopping and staring. Did we really not see all this color on the hike up? No...my photos proved that the hillsides were green just hours earlier.

Now there were pops of yellow interspersed in with the green.

Could the trees really change color that fast? Apparently so!
Absolutely astonishing! Had we hiked up earlier in the day we would have hiked down earlier. To think that we could have missed both the hatch and the color change!

This time we shared the trail with pack horses lead by hunters heading out with goat permits. They would all spend the night at the lake before heading high up into the terrain. Several older teens also passed us by; we told them of the hatch and they quickened their pace in hopes of seeing a bit of the display too.
At the trail head, the forest floor had also picked up some more color.
Really...compare this shot with the first one of Bernie on the trail. Do you see any of this kind of color around the trail before?

At the trail head we went back to sign ourselves out from the trail registry book.
I had to laugh at the last folks that had signed in.
It was 9/11 after all.
I can remember escaping from the 47th floor of One Shell Plaza in Houston on that fateful day.
The streets in the city teamed with people rushing to get home, to get away from all the high rises in that oil industry town.
I remember Bernie driving to the curb to pick me up; us driving to the freeway, and watching gridlock form behind us, trapping commuters inside the city boundaries for hours.
What a day that was.
What a day this was.
God is Good.
And all is safe and well in America for now.


Vee said...

Bright and early at 11 a.m. is my kind of morning! And you're so right, it was God's timing to see all the delights that you would've missed if you'd left at 7. Exquisite photography...I really enjoyed reading about your hike and hearing about all the others who were on it as well. As for moose frolicking in the forest...way too dangerous for me. What a terrific fish ballet!

ellen b. said...

Wow what a wonderful spectacle you experienced for sure! That's the first time I've read or seen the May flies hatch and trout jumping to catch them. Beautiful scenery and photographs. God is good.

Anonymous said...

Dad and I just read your beautiful blog. We had seen a nature program one time seeing the May Fly hatching and were in awe of it. So glad you got to see the wonder of it and the changing landscape on your return.I know those fish tasted mighty good after the long hike to catch them...good for Bernie! Love, Mom

Vicki said...

God placed you two in exactly the right place at the right time...and you got to sleep in a bit, too! ;) I love the photos...along with your narrative, I feel I'm right there with you!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

How awesome is that? That was an experience of a lifetime...I'm sure. 'Five fish a-leaping'...sounds like a new stanza of the 'Twelve days....'.

Beautiful photos...all of them. Does the sun always shine on you over there?

Sara said...

I think the amazing quick-changing flora and the remarkable hatch and fish ballet sort of make up for the lack of frolicking moose. Frolicking moose might be rather frightening after all...they are so big!

Lovella ♥ said...

Absolutely spectacular Jill, I love all the photos. You really have a gorgeous area there but I just blows me away how it is so similar to our area. It makes me want to drop my homework. .and take a gorgeous hike.