Photo by Gene Duvernoy

Rambling around one corner of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

I admit it was ambitious. My eyes far bigger than my stomach—or bigger than my calves at any rate.

I planned to zip past Lake Lillian, Rampart Lakes, Lake Laura, Park Lakes and end up at the most beautiful carved-out rock pool above Glacier Lake. Then do it all in reverse and be back at day’s start just ahead of star rise.

Record temperatures, a late start, laziness and befuddlement about an obscure pass all conspired to make sure I did not even come close. But mostly it was the searing heat and jumps into lakes as I walked by to combat the same. Places that should still have ample banks of snow already had parched wildflowers. It’s true. It’s is forbiddingly dry up there. Like mid-September—not the end of June.


This blog could veer off to a warning about climate change. But as dire and immediate as it is, if you are not already warned and worried about climate change, you must be under a rock and not on our website. So I will head in a different direction.

In fact I’ll step off the trail and onto my soapbox for a moment—let’s thank those amazing mid-century conservation leaders who put in place the vast majority of our wilderness land designations. All the lakes, passes, high ground and peaks I spent the day in are contained in just one corner of just one wilderness area in our one state. People like Pat Goldsworthy and Polly Dyer, so Forterra’s own resident early third millennium conservationist and historian Charlie Raines tells me.  Indeed let’s do more than just thank them, let’s continue the job.

Our state’s wilderness areas receive massive support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—roughly $637 million over the past five decades—to protect places like the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Most of our Washington delegation is working to get the LWCF reauthorized, but we’re running out of time. The LWCF expires in less than 100 days. It’s up to each of us to help continue the job of protecting these cherished lands. (UPDATE, AS OF JULY, 2016: CONGRESS DID LET THE LWCF EXPIRE. THE PROGRAM HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK FROM THE BRINK – AT LEAST FOR THE SHORT TERM – AND, IN APRIL, THE U.S. SENATE PASSED PERMANENT AUTHORIZATION OF LWCF. NOW THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MUST FOLLOW SUIT). Learn how you can share your voice and help out here.

Off the soap box and back on the trail, I didn’t end up making it to my goal of that rock pool. I already admitted that. But at 9:15 I took one last drenching. This time under a waterfall half mile from the trailhead. A nice way to end a nice day of rambling. Carolyn still asked me to shower before a late supper together. Must have been the heat.

Our state’s wilderness areas receive massive support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect our cherished places like the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Photo by Gene Duvernoy