Sunday, July 19, 2020

Mosaic Monday# 89: A-campin' We Did Go

Some hikes get rated a lowly "ho-hum", while others enchant and electrify.  Our latest adventure to Granite Lake has secured a place in the latter category.  In fact, I would say it is in my top 5 of hikes completed in the last 3 years (and there have been 56 unrepeated hikes in that time).  Why?  The trail offered frequent (good) surprises.  For example, it would be dense as a jungle one minute, and barren under deep cedars the next.  The undulating terrain, with four creek crossings, meant an opportunity to use ALL our leg muscles!  I observed some new plants, which always makes for a winner with me.  Finally, the geography around the lake itself was also unique - Flavell Ridge to the left, a notch with a sky-high waterfall (from Blackwell Glacier) in the middle, and "A Peak" to the right.  (Yes, that is the genuine name of the mountain!)  Are you ready to go virtual camping with me?  Let's go!
Somebody really wants you to
know that there are 4!!
As we reached the end of our two-hour drive to the trailhead, we passed a bearded man on a bicycle.  He caught up with us before we departed, with a cheery "Did you see the moose?"  Apparently, back a bit on the road, a mama moose had been grazing the hillside with two calves.  Shucks - we probably were too focused on the map ...  For the next two days, we kept our eyes peeled, and saw nary an Alces alces.  Two cars were already parked at the trailhead, and later in the day we would meet a young man followed by a middle-aged man, travelling separately and both returning from the lake.  This meant a high probability that we would have the lake to ourselves!!!  But first we would have to navigate Granite Creek FOUR times ...

We left the trailhead at 10 am, and 5 hours later we had traversed 6 miles and climbed 2000 feet.  This is a snail's pace for us, and part of the delay was the first stream crossing.  We followed some helpful orange "ribbon" to a spot with an easier passage (lower water flow), but it made finding the trail on the other side more difficult.  (On our return, we stuck to  the bona fide trail and the creek crossing was perfectly manageable, saving us significant time.  Descent from the lake only took us four hours.)  In case you are not familiar with stream crossings, this involves taking off your pack, removing your boots and socks, donning your water shoes, hoisting your pack with your boots strung around your neck, striding quickly but safely through ice cold water and then rewinding the process on the other side.  I would estimate each crossing adds 15 minutes to the hike.  Do the math - four crossings - an extra hour!  We got lucky that a MASSIVE cedar had conveniently fallen across the creek right at a crossing - here I am strolling over it.
Early on the hike, I saw that hollyhocks and a purple-flowering plant were predominant.  At first glance, I thought it might be a larkspur, but closer examination suggested the pea family.  Wrong on both counts!  My purchase of Plants of the Rocky Mountains a couple of years ago has been a godsend for identifying flowers, shrubs and trees.  In this case, I discerned that my purple majesties are Columbian Monkshood.  You can be lured into its velvety folds, but you should be aware that all parts of the plant contain the poisonous alkaloid aconitine.  The flowers are harmless to handle, but are violently poisonous if eaten.  Just touching it can cause tingling, numbness, and in severe cases, heart problems.  Less than 20 ounces of the roots is fatal to a horse.   Beautiful but potentially deadly.
Shortly after the first stream crossing, we passed between two towering cedars, both adorned with carved signs denoting "Cabinet Mountains Wilderness/Kootenai National Forest".  Clearly, the one on the right has seen better days, and someone saw fit to add the one on the left.  Eagle eyes might also detect that Man with Hat is Man with Hat 2.  As I reported in this post, a little too much fun in the sun had taken its toll on Hat, and it has been reassigned to purely fishing duties.  So, today, we officially welcome Hat 2.
The slightly wider brim bumps into the backpack when it is full, so I
added a button that allows Man with Hat to secure the brim in
the upright and locked position
Within a half mile of the official entrance to the Cabinets, we arrived at a waterfall that has no name, but is accompanied by a fire circle, logs arranged in a seating area and several bare, flat spaces that have accommodated numerous tents.  The ideal spot for a break and a snack!  On a warmer day, this could be a superb swimming hole.  Check out the video below the picture!

At this point, we began to enter the deeply wooded sections of the trail.  Eons' worth of cedar needles muffled our footfalls.  Flights of fantasy imagined fairies, suspended behind the ferns, giggling at the clumsy hikers.  Aptly named foam flower floated above the forest floor on almost invisible stems.  And, lest you think nothing can grow under the limitless canopy, suddenly a grouping of orchids appears before you, prompting me to say "Hello, and what might you be?"  I am not entirely satisfied with these photos, but these orchids are so small that they are hard to photograph with my phone.  Also, I suspect they were a bit past their prime.  Nevertheless, my book once again came to the rescue and I can tell you these are Spotted Coralroot Orchids.
Before the fourth and final stream crossing, the scenery opened up enough to offer our first view of spectacular A Peak.  Near here, yellow columbines added themselves to the floral display.
Left: Yellow Columbines;  Upper Right: A Peak; Lower Right: A hand-carved sign points the way to Granite Lake
The last creek crossing is a half-mile before the lake, and our pace quickened in anticipation.  We emerged from the woods to this jaw-dropping view of A Peak, with Granite Lake below it.  A full 4000 feet below it.  You could be deceived into imagining that A Peak was leaning over the lake, its upper reaches about to crash into the water below at any instant.  After some moments of stunned admiration, we commenced the normal activities of setting up camp.  Choosing a site.  Erecting the tent.  Hanging the backpacks in a bear-safe manner.  And then Man with Hat went fishing.  (It was quite windy and he did not have much luck.)  I sat on the log jam at the outlet of the lake, doing word searches and keeping an eye out for birds.  A few dippers and a bald eagle made an appearance.  It was a delight to watch the light changing as afternoon morphed into evening.
We will buy the mac n' cheese dinner again (it was a new one for us).  All too soon it was time to retire to the tent.  As we brushed our teeth, a single mule deer approached through the woods.  She did not move off; she clearly wanted to be right there.  Strange.  After we had zipped ourselves into the tent, we heard something knock over the trekking poles, which we had left propped near the seating area of the fire circle.  Man without Hat peered into the gathering darkness, and darn if it wasn't that mule deer again.  He got out and brought the poles over to the end of the tent.  Snuggled down into our sleeping bags once again, it wasn't too long before we could hear the poles banging around right above our heads.  Yep, you guessed it - the deer.  We reckon she was after the salt on the handles from our perspiration.  The poles were moved inside the vestibule of the tent, and that finally seemed to put her off.  But my nerves were jangling and it took me quite a while to drift off to the land of Nod.

Early to bed, early to rise.  We emerged from the tent at 6 AM, witness to the sun's artwork - she had flicked her paint brush over the top of A Peak - stunning!
When you arise early, it is a license for a slow start.  Some coffee.  A fire.  Navel-gazing and contemplating the wonders of the universe.  We wandered down the trail to one of the "ponds" created by Granite Creek, in the hope that we might spot a morning moose.  Not that day.  But nothing could dispel our joy to be the only two humans in this incredible slice of paradise, with nothing more than birdsong to disturb the peace.
And did I mention the birthday of a certain Man with Hat?  Yes, this day also welcomed another circle around the sun for my esteemed husband.  No cake with candles, but I did carry two cards in my backpack for him to open in the morning.  Happy Birthday again, my dear!

The previous day, Man with Hat described the far end of the lake, which he had been able to access via his inflatable pack raft.  "You think it's spectacular from here?  You should see it up close!"  And so it was that I found myself paddling away to distant shores.  And he was right.  The sheer scale of the cliffs.  The myriad of waterfalls that can only be seen when you get close.  The incessant pounding of the water on rock as it leaps downward from the glacier to the lake.  The below mosaic is the best of the pictures that I took from the boat, and the video may help you visualize some of the waterfalls.
While Man with Hat gave fishing another try (still not much luck), I resumed my word-search/bird-watching game, this time with a bit more success.  Audubon's Warbler.  Steller's Jay.  Western Tanager.  And a lovely swallowtail butterfly floated past, alighting on a nearby Cow Parsnip.
It had been a thoroughly delightful morning, but all good things must come to and end, and so we departed the camp at noon.  On a hike, I never take all the pictures that I want to on the way out - it would take too long and more importantly, I might wear out the patience of one Man with Hat.  So, I had my mental list of plants to capture on our return route. 
Upper right: Nodding Onion; Middle right: Stonecrop; Lower right: Fruit of Solomon's Seal
Left: Fading lupines; Upper right: Bead lily, ferns and moss on a rock; Lower right: Aspen Fleabane
At the outset of this post (I know, that was a LONG time ago), I mentioned the dense jungle.  Check out these pictures.
Left: if you look closely, you can see a cow parsnip that is taller than Man with Hat
I am always amazed that I miss something along the way.  As we returned, I spotted these showy white flowers.  Hmmm, what could they be?  A quick consultation of my Plants bible identified them as Mock Orange.  Really?  I have two of these in my garden and they don't look anything like this!  It is now my aspiration!

On the way down, we passed a couple with a dog, and later, a single man intent on some fishing.  We encouraged them to persist through the stream crossings, the jungle and the spooky forest.  As we experienced it, the glory of Granite Lake is something meant to be shared. 

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.  Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.  The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain Time).  Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.  Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.  As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.  Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.  Thanks for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


  1. ...hiking in your neck of the woods can make you feel like a fly speck on the radar screen of life! Thanks Angie for hosting.

  2. You and "man with hat" are quite the travelers!! and you find so many interesting things along the way. Happy birthday to your special man.

  3. My goodness, I felt like I was there, you have such a way with words. I was completely transported. Thank you for the journey. What a lovely view and to be the only ones there, heaven.
    Happy Birthday to Man with Hat!
    My husband has that same hat in odie green LOL
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  4. Stunningly beautiful photographs, and thanks for the videos too.
    Happy birthday wishes to 'man with hat'

    Have a great new week.

    All the best Jan

  5. WOW, everything sure looks amazing, so much pretty everywhere! Happy Birthday to the man in the hat!!!

  6. What an amazing post, I really enjoyed wandering along with you, from the comfort of home 😁😁. Such beautiful flowers and plants and the views are staggering.

  7. wow, seeing this I really wish I was younger, stronger and had more money so I could go. This is a place I probably could spend a lot of time in. The only thing I don´t really like is the dense vegetation. I want to see where I set my feet down. Thanks for sharing this beauty.

  8. For hikers/backpackers this trip sounded idyllic for sure. A very happy birthday to your man in the hat. Amazing beauty you found in an area only two hours from your doorstep not counting the miles to hike in. :) You two have really found your spot in paradise on earth to enjoy!

  9. A beautiful hike Angie! Your pictures and narrative are superb...I really do feel like I was there ... beautiful views up, down, and ahead! I laughed at your use of the word “stroll” across that log. I’m kind of white knuckled just thinking of trying that! ... the morning sun on the peak is my favorite of all the pictures.

  10. Happy birthday to your husband! What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday! This was an ambitious hike but what a beautiful and well worth area in which to camp. I loved seeing the waterfalls and the alpenglow on the mountains. The dense vegetation is so unlike Colorado's rocky and sparse terrain. I also loved seeing all the flowers, many of which I see here in our foothills/ moraine elevation at 6,000 feet. Glad you were able to enjoy this hike this unusual year!

  11. Very nice, very interesting for me to read about your adventure. You and man with hat... give me a smile. Enjoy this days.

    ...we was yesterday walking by the way. It was a way with art through a wood ... more about next week.

    Thank you for hosting.
    Stay healthy and well.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  12. What an amazing time you had at Granite Lake, I loved seeing it through your camera lens. I know that, as I am not in least bit adventurous, tagging along with you and Man in Hat 2 is the best way to travel to such beautiful places. Belated Happy Birthday wishes to MiH!

  13. Hello Angie,
    Happy Birthday to the "Man with hat". Your camping trip sounds wonderful. The views are stunning! I love the peaks, waterfals and lake. The wildflowers are all beautiful. Awesome report on your camping and great photos. Thanks for hosting MM. Have a great week ahead.

  14. It really is amazing to be alone in a paradise like that and what a great way to spend your birthday! I know your hubby was happy to be out in the wilderness with you! It's fun to try to id plants and flowers and you never know what you'll see. Great photos! Wish I could have been there with you. I would have needed a mule to carry my pack though! heehee! Happy Monday!

  15. What a fantastic place, Angie! I enjoyed the virtual tour, especially now that we are experiencing a second wave COVID-19 outbreak here in Melbourne and we are in Lockdown #2...

  16. Nice videos! Pure rushing water amid absolutely gorgeous scenery. It takes ambition to go where few people visit to see and hear nature’s grandness minus the glut of human activity and traffic.

  17. Those views are amazing and the waterfall photo just made my beautiful! Thank you for sharing and hosting!

  18. PPS: Happy birthday to Man-with-Hat!

  19. Happy to hear of your fun camping thanks for the lovely share of photos. Happy Monday


  20. Angie, What a great hike! Nice to have the place to yourselves. As always the water and nature pics are terrific. Thanks for hosting and sharing. Sylvia D.

  21. You saw the perfect waterfall. I love the black and white drawing on the birthday card. I bet the mac and cheese tasted even better with a fantastic view!

  22. What a beautiful adventure! Happy Birthday to the Man in the Hat - such a great way to celebrate together! The lake, the waterfalls, the foliage - everything is lovely.

  23. Looks like a great trip! Happy birthday to your man!

  24. What a hike--impressive. Now that I am ancient I limit my hikes to maybe 4miles roundtrip. Always in the mountains which I love. Excellent narrative and pictures. I was impressed with this sentence of yours-- "But nothing could dispel our joy to be the only two humans in this incredible slice of paradise, with nothing more than birdsong to disturb the peace".

  25. Beautiful day, the flowers are great.

  26. Wow! What a place, what an adventure and Happy Birthday to the Man with a Hat ~ beautiful photos ^_^

    Live each moment with love,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  27. Wow - that is sooooo beautiful! And belated happy birthday.

  28. Shame you didn’t see the moose (or mooses) Angie. I may have watched too many movies where moose are as numerous as African Wildebeest but clearly they are not. I enjoyed your hike and of course the pictures but I’m not so sure I would enjoy the Backpacker’s Pantry. Needs must I guess when the nearest takeaway is 5 miles on foot.

  29. Oh, this is fantastic! The Views! I feel cooler just looking at the water. Belated Happy Birthday from me as well.

  30. you two were made for each other. Beautiful scenery and flowers. Lucky no one else was there to worry about virus spread. Once on a camping trip at Banff, my boyfriend and I were awakened by an enormous elk pushing into the tent with his antlers.
    Are there more waterfalls from glacial melt?
    I guess the gist is see it while you can!

  31. Thanks, Angie! I loved the virtual camping trip. I had no problem wading through the creek, but that log. Aye! Parts of the hike reminded me of my trips into the Sierra Nevadas once upon a time. Happy memories. :-)

  32. I can easily see why this hike was so enchanting! Gorgeous flowers and scenery. That was a true adventure. So glad you shared the photos. Happy Belated Birthday, the cards are wonderful!


  33. A fabulous journey, Angie, through some very fabulous country. One cannot fail to be impressed with your stamina, and the joy you experienced in doing this. Bravo on every front. It was a birthday to remember.

  34. Oh wow, what an adventure you had!!Thanks for taking us along. I remember way back when as a kid in Utah the whole stream crossing thing except we didn't have water shoes but it took a while for each crossing of a stream.
    Thanks for taking us along!

  35. What a marvelous hike!! Such lovely photos. Looks like you had great weather. It is such an incredible place isn't it? Happy birthday to your guy. May he have many more! Kit 😊

  36. We have two of the things in your post here in Powell River. We have a Granite Lake in the backcountry that looks similar to yours. It doesn't have A Peak looking over it, but Butt Butte (a name I've given to the granite cliff that has a definite rear-end shape). Here at the float cabin we have a Mock Orange on the cliff. Unfortunately a growing cedar is overtaking it and choking it out. It's a favourite spot for our visiting hummingbirds and cedar waxwings. - Margy

  37. What a grand trip you had. Beautiful photos and videos. Thanks for sharing, Angie and have a wonderful weekend!

  38. Wow....56 unrepeated hikes in 3 years...I am impressed. Gosh, you see the most glorious landscapes and flowers on your hikes, Angie. To sit by the fire, and wake up early in the morning to revel in all that glorious beauty, I would imagine is like nothing else.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...