Heavy rain and wind with the promise of snow at higher elevations. What could be a better receipe for a hike into Carl Lake in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness?
The hike began in an area that was caught in a forest fire in 2003. The dense snowbrush, manzinita and lodgepole pine had already grown above my head since the fire.
To my surprise there were no other vehicles at the trailhead, not even the elk hunters that I usually see during elk season.
After leaving the wildfire area, the trail reached Cabot Lake. Now the rain was beginning to turn to snow. Over the next couple of miles the trail passed three frozen tarns (small lakes) and the snow was building up.
I began seeing fresh tracks of two hunting coyotes near the trail. Also, there were fresh deer tracks and at one point relatively fresh mountain lion tracks.
After five miles and the snow becoming six to eight inches deep, I reached Carl Lake, an alpine gem. It was too large and deep to have frozen yet.
With the heavy and cold gusts of wind blowing the snow sideways, I explored the glacier-polished rim of Carl Lake. What a winter wonderland I thought to myself, and not another human for miles.
Truly a wonderful wilderness hike!