Ingalls Lake (Alpine Lakes) 8/12 - 8/14

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ras_pdx
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Joined: July 22nd, 2009, 12:47 pm

Ingalls Lake (Alpine Lakes) 8/12 - 8/14

Post by ras_pdx » August 29th, 2017, 9:36 am

A couple of weeks back I packed in to Headlight Basin and Ingalls Lake, on the east side of Alpine Lakes Wilderness, with a Seattle friend and her 8 year old daughter. It's a fairly popular pack for Seattle area folks, but I'd never been to those parts and was eager to see what all the fuss was about.

We didn't get out of Seattle until almost noon on Saturday, which put us at the trailhead a little after 2. I'm always nervous packing in to a popular area on a summer Saturday afternoon, concerned about getting a decent camp site. Fortunately, there are many great sites available in Headlight Basin. The weather forecast was 50% chance of showers on Saturday night, so maybe that kept people away?

It was the girl's first backpack carrying her own brand new pack, with brand new lace up hiking boots. Well, as you might have guessed that didn't go quite as smooth as you might hope. The boots were uncomfortable, the women's xtra small pack was too big, and after a half mile she was miserable. But we lightened her load, promised lots of treats, and managed to get her headed back in the right direction.

When you reach the pass into the basin, the trail forks. A sign points right (east) for camp sites in the lower basin, and left for Ingalls Lake. I would have followed the signs to the right, but my friend had been there many times before and took us left. We found a great site on a flat, rocky ledge with amazing views across the basin to Mt. Stuart. And all around camp were signs of goats. The area is pretty well known for resident goats, so I had hauled my SLR and zoom lens in hopes of getting some nice photos. I was well rewarded.

When we first arrived in the area, the air was thick with smoke. There was still residual smoke from the BC fires, and there were actually a couple of small fires in the immediate area. (The trail north of us, beyond Stuart Pass, had been closed.) But the promised weather system blew in on Saturday night - lowering the temperatures, wetting down the dust, and blowing all the smoke from the area. When the clouds lifted mid morning on Sunday we had crystal clear views across to Mt Stuart and beyond.

We spent Sunday exploring the area around Ingalls Lake. To reach the lake, you hike through Headlight Basin and then climb over a saddle. The lake sits in a rocky bowl at the base of Ingalls Peak, which is popular among climbers. It was a bit chilly for a swim, so we decided to spend our time scrambling up to a saddle on the shoulder of Ingalls Peak. The views from the saddle were worth the climb, especially on such a clear day. Coming down off the rocks was a bit of a challenge for me, as I get some vertigo with exposure. Fortunately, my fearless 8 year old companion is part mountain goat, and she showed me through some of the tougher spots.

We also decided to eat lunch on the far side of Ingalls Lake. There is a rough trail on the west side of the lake, but it is slow going as you have to navigate over rocks/boulders part of the way. Fortunately, my friend knew how to access the far side from the east by steeply climbing over some rocks and boulders. (If you didn't know that was possible you most certainly would have gone around the long way.) During lunch my friend spotted a small herd of goats a little bit further around the lake. I approached from above with my camera, and got some great video footage of the moms and kids playing on the rocks and eating lupine.

On Monday morning we packed up the tent and hung around camp with the half dozen goats that had been hanging out in the area. One in particular struck a perfect pose in front of Mt Stuart.

The hike out was uneventful, and we were back in Seattle just before rush hour on Monday afternoon. It's a bit of a drive from Portland, but it's definitely worth the trip. Some photos below, and you can check out more extensive photos and videos here: https://photos.google.com/u/1/share/AF1 ... FIUkJBZk9R.
Attachments
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Posing for the camera
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Lounging around
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The view from the shoulder of Ingalls Peak, looking back over Ingalls Lake
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Mama and kid
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Anika the mountain goat

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Bosterson
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Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: Ingalls Lake (Alpine Lakes) 8/12 - 8/14

Post by Bosterson » August 30th, 2017, 5:51 pm

Alpine Lakes is definitely a bit of a haul from Portland, but is so phenomenal that it's always worth it. Damn those Seattlites for being able to sleep in, leisurely drink coffee, and then show up at trailheads at 7am!

Looks like you headed up from the lake onto the slabs up to the saddle below Ingalls Peak. I went there last summer to climb the peak. I presume they've fixed the road and you can drive all the way to the TH now? (Last year you had to walk the last mile because of a washout.) We also found the goats to be a huge nuisance - always poking around and running through our camp. We were constantly throwing rocks at them to get them to leave us alone. The only thing worse was the people flagrantly ignoring the campfire ban! :x

Ingalls is a very nice spot, but if you haven't checked out other areas in Alpine Lakes, it's worth going back for another visit! :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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