Lake Solitude Trail

Day 15
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.

 

U-shaped valley on the Lake Solitude trail. Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

Waterfalls lined the path on the way up, sometimes cascading below us underneath established bridges and other times directly across the trail.

 

Waterfall on the Lake Solitude trail. Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

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.

 

Reflection in Lake Solitude. From left to right: Mt. Teewinot, Mt. Owen, and the Grand Teton. Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

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.

 

Paepin hiking through a snowfield at Lake Solitude. Photo by Madelyn Gonzalez.

 

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!

 

Yellow-bellied marmot at Lake Solitude. Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

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…

 

Yellow-bellied marmot at Lake Solitude. Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

…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.

 

Yellow-bellied marmot digging for breakfast at Lake Solitude, Wyoming from Paepin Goff on Vimeo.

 

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.

 

Marmot food excavation site near Lake Solitude. Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

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.

 

Aerial view of Lake Solitude via Google Earth.

 

Just check out the snow on that ridge.

 

Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

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.

 

Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

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.

 

Photo by Paepin Goff.

 

And, a Dave-wave for good measure!

 

Paepin doing the Dave-wave at Lake Solitude.


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