July 25, 2017
Distance: 2.7 mi from campground (4.5 km)
Elevation Gain: 681 ft (208 m)
Highest Point: 9078ft (2767 m)
On Tuesday morning, we packed up camp and took a quick detour uphill to Lake Solitude. The trail took us through a u-shaped valley along boulder fields and mountain streams.
Waterfalls lined the path on the way up, sometimes cascading below us underneath established bridges and other times directly across the trail.
Skip to the good stuff – the views from the lake were absolutely amazing. There was still plenty of snow in the valley and ice covering the surface of the lake.
The trail took us through a snowfield, which was a ton of fun to play around in. Navigating through the melting snow wasn’t terribly difficult – yay microspikes! – and we stayed dry with waterproofs and gaiters.
Although there was still quite a bit of snow, there were a few grassy places where the snow had mostly melted out – that’s where we found marmots!
We watched this little guy/girl for a few minutes and it ran directly in front of me toward a rocky patch under a tree. At first, I thought it was checking us out to make sure weren’t a threat, but…
…after a few minutes I realized we were standing between it and its food source. So, we moved over a bit and watched while it started digging up breakfast.
After it took off, I went back to the site where it was digging. In the process of searching for food, these little guys stir up the topsoil, which is great for germinating plants. Zoogeomorphology (a.k.a. animal driven landscaping) in action.
Beyond the wildlife, there were tons of cool geography things to see from every angle. At Lake Solitude, you’re in somewhat of a bowl surrounded by sharp ridges and cirques, so most of the time you’re looking up about 1500 feet into the alpine region.
Just check out the snow on that ridge.
Historically, the snow in this area melts out by this time of the year. Most likely this snow patch will melt out by August, otherwise it might be incorporated into next year’s snowfall, which begins in late October.
Here, you can see ice separating from the south headwall (left) and slowly moving down valley. Some of this snow will be blown away in the wind (windblown ablation) and some of it will evaporate, but most of it will melt and flow down streams into the lake.
And, a Dave-wave for good measure!