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Lake Blanche
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mini location map2018-02-17
16 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Lake BlancheSalt Lake, UT
Salt Lake, UT
Hiking avatar Feb 17 2018
Hiking7.15 Miles 2,769 AEG
Hiking7.15 Miles   3 Hrs   20 Mns   2.20 mph
2,769 ft AEG      5 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Turned out to be a beautiful day for a winter hike in the Wasatch mountains. With daytime temps in Salt Lake approaching 60 degrees, and sunshine all around, I headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon after skipping out on the post-lunch finale of my conference--opting to conclude my visit with some alpine fresh air, instead.

I chose Lake Blanche because it was close, had a bit of elevation gain, and had a string of small alpine lakes as the pay-off at the top.

The website I used to find the trail said that it was not all that popular, but on this day at least, I would beg to differ. The parking area was full, with cars parked along the canyon road as overflow. Despite the TH congestion, there was still a fair amount of solitude to be found along the trail. I arrived shortly after lunch, with most of the crowd having departed in the morning. So, most of my climb up to the lake was in solitude.

I only had so much room for footwear in my carry-on, so my running shoes had to double as hiking shoes on this one. I strapped my Yak Trax over them, and they turned out to be perfect for the snow-packed single track. I complemented the shoes with some thick, wool socks, knowing that the porous running shoes would likely result in some moisture seeping through. It did, but the wool socks did their magic and my feet remained warm throughout.

In fact, on the climb up, it was downright toasty. I hiked in t-shirt and zip-offs, until the breeze in the higher areas kicked in.

The hike itself begins at the Mill B South trailhead, which is right off the road on the way up the Canyon. The trail starts off along the strong flowing creek to your left. At this time of year, the cascades were rumbling beneath a layer of ice in places.

A little more than a 1/4 mile in, you arrive at the TH for Lake Blanche, which peels off to the right and up the adjoining drainage. The steady climb begins from here, and while the trail gains nearly 3,000 feet in the next 3 miles or so, the climb never felt exhausting, as you are pleasantly distracted by the rumbling side creek for the first mile of the climb, and then the muffled sound of your own feet crunching the snow beneath.

As I looked up to the surrounding mountaintops, I could see the wind whipping snow drifts over the top. Most certainly, it was cold up there, but in the protected confines of the side canyons, the sun kept things warm, and I was constantly adjusting layers to stay cool.

After a couple of miles, you get high enough to look back and see the Great Salt Lake in the distance.

Lake Blanche appears at 9,000 feet and at this time of year was covered in a layer of ice and snow, making it difficult to even know that a lake lies beneath the wintery cover. The trail "ends" at a high point that allows for views of the lake and surrounding mountain drainages, and a narrow opening to the NW that allows vies of South Salt Lake.

There are a couple of smaller lakes "next door" that would be fun to visit in the summer, but the snow became deeper at this point and was not as packed down by prior hikers, so I decided to turn around, given my running shoe footwear. :-).

The return trip was equally enjoyable, as the afternoon sun brought out the colors in the mountains to the north.

All in all a great day in the mountains.

And the best day of the president's day weekend, as the forecast for the actual Monday holiday was for winter storms and a 20-30 degree drop in temperatures.

Back at the trailhead, I headed down to Provo to spend the rest of the evening with my college kids and grandson!
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