Thursday, January 22, 2015

CR2014: Opabin Prospect and Linda Lake

July 24th started with rain, snow, and hail during breakfast. We left our cabin 45 minutes later than usual, and headed for our preferred messy weather destination, the Opabin Plateau, which we had already visited two days earlier. It's a good place to wander when you don't wish to get too high up or too far away.

This photo shows how the bluffs of the plateau appear from lake level.
We decided to walk around Lake O'Hara clockwise to the East Opabin Trail, the longer way to go. In this image Joan and I are at the head of the northern, smaller lobe of Lake O'Hara.
The east trail is wider, wooded, switchbacked, and less interesting than the west trail, but the footing is better in borderline weather. As it was, the rain/snow mix abated as we climbed.

Joan and I were thrilled to encounter a varied thrush on the trail, a bird we never see in Ohio. So even if the image is fuzzy, I'm including it!

We continued on to Lake Opabin, where we ate lunch. The cold persuaded us not to linger. We began our return on the west side of the plateau, and encountered a hermit thrush being pestered by two chicks. You can't feed those beaks fast enough! We also saw the three baby marmots from two days before, in the same spot, but not a parent.

We made a brief stop at the Opabin Prospect even though the rain was developing again. Even with low clouds the view was something to appreciate.
Joan, on far right in the blue rain jacket, provides scale. There's a cairn dead center. Let's take a closer look.
Closer yet.
Then we descended by the West Opabin Trail and returned to our cabin after an outing of five hours.

July 25th began with a cold, light drizzle. Joan and I didn't shove off until 11:00. We were headed for Linda Lake via the Lower Morning Glory Trail and the Linda Lake Beeline Trail (click on the map to enlarge).
This view looks back to the Elizabeth Parker Hut at the start of the Lower Morning Glory.
We lunched at the extensive rock pile on the southern shore of Linda Lake, where we often see pikas.
We briefly saw a couple of pikas, but today's gloomy weather seemed to be keeping them indoors (in their rock warrens).

The clarity of the water here makes for color shadings you wouldn't find anywhere less transparent. The transition from brown to green is sudden.
Joan and I swung around the west and north sides of Linda Lake and hiked down to a four-way junction. Technically the junction is only three-way, but the closed fourth trail is still visible. At one point I slipped on some moss, but the same moss made a soft landing for my posterior. 

At the junction we turned right towards the Lake O'Hara campground. We saw varied- and hermit- thrushes, and heard winter wrens. This trail is much less rocky and root-strewn than the Lower Morning Glory, which we shall remember for the future.

After the campground we took the Cascade Route, which crosses the outflow creek and put us on the east bank of a lake just downstream from Lake O'Hara. It's the small oblong in the above left of this satellite image, almost touching the road.
Here we saw pipits, sandpipers, mergansers, yellow-rumped warblers, a golden-eye duck and six small ducklings. The sightings were exciting through binoculars, but too far for my camera.

After a clean-up in our cabin it was time for dinner. In this photo the gong hasn't rung yet.

Tomorrow the weather should be better.