Last weekend, Justin, Dixie and I hiked the Snow Lake Trail in hopes of making it to Gem Lake. We didn’t make it to Gem Lake, for reasons below, but this hike was still awesome!
Growing up on the central coast of California, I don’t know what seasons are. The idea of hiking in the snow on a warm day (forecasted at 75 degrees) sounded like a really odd, but fascinating thing to me. Not to mention the promise of a gorgeous lake to picnic at. This was my top choice from the ideas that J made.
The beginning was the steepest, but it quickly leveled of and led into a very gradual incline the rest of the way. I’m not a huge fan of hills, but they’re usually pretty inevitable here and end up being totally worth it. The gradual incline was quite welcome and posed no discomfort for me! Even after the switchbacks started (just under 2mi in) the incline wasn’t bad at all.
The terrain itself was the challenging part..
There were snow chunks scattered throughout the whole trail, and some were much larger than others. It was definitely slippery, especially coming down hill. You kind of had to anticipate sliding down, which I thought was pretty fun! I only ended up with one butt slide, but a couple where I was able to anchor myself on the slope next to me to prevent a full crash n burn. I don’t think I did too bad, though I feel like I’ve got pretty good balance.
There were a handful of places where the snow runoff crossed the trail and we had to stepping stone through them to avoid total foot submersion. Nothing crazy though. Still, totally glad for my waterproof hiking shoes! One of them, however, was pretty big and if you missed, you’d probably end up knee-deep in the cold water. I liked the water parts a lot, too. Something new to do, and the water was so clear and pretty, I just wanted to play in it! I world probably take that back if I tried to though.. It was probably freezing!
There were A LOT of rocks. The trail was really rocky. According to my step tracker, I must’ve taken many tiny steps because I ended up with way more steps per mile than I normally do… By a lot! I’m sure challenged my ankle integrity, and, unfortunately, had to keep my eyes on the ground in front of me.
When I did look up, the view of the mountains opposite the one we were traversing was stunning! They were covered in snow and trees like something out of a ski or travel brochure! At one point, on the side of the one we were hiking, you could see four or five areas with water trickling down the huge rock cliff face.
There were also a few slope areas where you could trudge up and play in the snow a bit. I definitely got a kick out of those and even made a mini snowman.
At the summit, before the trail normally leads down to Snow Lake, there were slightly flatter areas you could play in the snow. It was still hilly so you couldn’t do too much, but Dixie and I tried to run around anyway. She did better than I did, but we both loved it.
From this point, the rest of the trail down was covered in snow, making it difficult to find the trail at all, let alone head down to the lake itself. It was super pretty anyway, even though it was frozen and covered in snow. I would have loved to make the trek, but safety first! Maybe if we had hiking poles. I’ve never used them, but I think I understand their purpose after this trail!
This was definitely a moderate hike, and the things that made it challenging also made it fun for me! I’d like to make it to the lake sometime as well as continue on to Gem Lake. It was one of the most varied trails I’ve hiked and really beautiful everywhere. If only my DSLR wasn’t so bulky, I’d have loved to have it with me!