Read about Day 1 here.
|Our campsite overlooking Shoal Lake and its many waterfalls.|
It’s such a refreshing feeling to fall asleep to the sound of waterfalls roaring in the distance after a long day’s trek. Nature’s white-noise just can’t be beat. It’s also hard to beat waking up to the sun shining down on you and hearing the birds echo their morning songs; if only we could enjoy God’s beautiful creation away from civilization more often. Life seems much less complicated and far more enjoyable when you slow down to take notice of the works that the Lord has made and dwell upon His goodness.
|Our fly fishing rods ready to go from the night before.|
Stafford and I slept in a bit past the part where the sun starts shining down on you. But we felt much better than we thought we would after the long trek to our campsite by the lake. We decided to start off by attempting a peak on our west side and potentially dropping over the ridge to McLeod Lake to meet Tim who had planned to possibly visit us there that day.
|Some flowers on our scramble up the sub-peak. Shoal Lake below.|
So we began our climb up the western slope to a sort of sub-peak of Corner Peak. It was fairly easy going until we started climbing up very loose and sometimes narrow scree/dirt. We reached a point where there weren’t too many options but to go up and over some large boulders in the middle of a steep ridge, and Stafford decided to turn back. He waited as I carefully (good word choice for my mom reading this) scrambled to the top of these boulders just to see if the rest of the climb would be doable. I read the final ascent long and hard, and it did look potentially sketchy yet doable. But I decided it wasn’t worth the risk, especially if I would be doing it alone.
So we turned back and decided to try the eastern slopes of the bowl we were in. We looked at our map and thought it’d be a pretty sweet view from the saddle next to Steamboat Peak. Turns out we were quite right! The views were absolutely stunning; we were able to see all the way to the Red Hills off the Gros Ventre Road on the other side of the high country.
|Little pool trapped in the slopes east of Shoal Lake. Some great looking cliffs in the background.|
|Red Hills near Gros Ventre Road in the lower left distance. This is the view from the saddle next to Steamboat Peak.|
|Pretty great cliffs no matter where you looked!|
|Full panorama view from the saddle. Amazing 180-degree view.|
|My backpacker model gazing off into the distance.|
|And now gazing to the left.|
|:O GASP! The photographer snuck in this photo!!! Haha, photo credits to Josh Stafford. 🙂|
|Does this shot make you want to be the hiker? 🙂|
|Spectacular view back down to the valley we started in.|
|Flowers up here were just too good to pass up a few shots.|
|Some great lupines in the foreground looking back north.|
|My mom will love me for these. 🙂|
|Stopping for an extended break to enjoy the views.|
|Seen enough flowers yet? 🙂|
After enjoying the views for a while, we started hiking back down towards Shoal Lake. We took the northeastern loop around and came down the trail we would hike out the next day. The waterfalls were spectacular and it was quite the view looking down the canyon we hiked up the day before.
|Looking south on our way back down to Shoal Lake.|
|Hiker in his alpine glory!|
|We really couldn’t get over these stunning views!|
|Black Peak looming in the distance.|
|More great views from the north side of the Shoal Lake “bowl”. This is where we would hike out the next day, but for now we were just turning back south to hike down to the lake.|
|A little glacier lake that feeds one of the many waterfalls running down to Shoal Lake (which would be over the edge and down a ways in this photo). This is looking back south from the previous picture.|
|Had to check it out of course.|
|Here’s a shot from the outlet of that little glacier lake and the start of the waterfall, leading down to Shoal Lake below.|
|Hiking down the trail to Shoal Lake alongside some more waterfalls. Once again, this is the trail we would hike back up the next day on our way out the loop trail.|
|Cool look at the waterfall leading into the lake, with a waterfall on the other side as well. Top center is the little sub-peak we attempted earlier.|
After returning to our campsite, we began the fishing frenzy of our lifetime. In a span of 3.5 hours, we caught over 100 (we didn’t try counting) cutthroat and golden trout between the two of us. It felt like we were cheating somehow, it was so easy to catch these trout ranging from 4in-15in. We took full advantage and had a blast working our way around the entire lake. The primary fly of choice was a nymph, though dry flies worked ok too. This was definitely the best day of fishing I’ve ever had!
|Stafford trying out my Tenkara fly rod.|
|This is near the outlet of the lake – lots of great rocks, perfect spot for fish! We were very productive in this area.|
We decided not to keep any and thus didn’t bring a fry pan with us. After dinner that night, I went to capture sunset from a spot in the middle of a waterfall we crossed as we were working our way around the lake fishing. It turned out to be a great spot for it!
|Vertical shot to get more of the waterfall in the frame, leading up to Steamboat Peak.|
After that I joined Stafford and went back to fishing a little bit and caught some more just because we could.
|We caught some really pretty Golden Trout!|
By this time we already knew it was the best backpack trip we’d ever taken. The unique, rugged landscapes we explored and the unbelievable fly fishing success combined for an unbeatable experience. This caused us to start dreaming of trying to beat it someday with each of our “top 3” travel vacations we want to do together.
Pretty cool to think about how much enjoyment can be experienced from just a tiny speck of land on the earth – there’s so much more out there!
That’s all for now, stay tuned for Day 3!