Trip Report – Lake Haiyaha, RMNP
After reading the severe trail condition report on the RMNP website, Dustin and I decided to approach Lake Haiyaha from the Loch Vale trail. Much different scenery filled our eyes than our first and second time along this trail. Eighty plus feet of snow finally yielded to spectacular blooming wildflowers. Outcrops of rocks, sprouted new green life. Finally, spring/summer has arrived.
The Loch Vale Trail, by way of Glacier Gorge, is much easier without snow, than with snow. The climb, not near as daunting, the sheer snow faces gone, all trail signs pointing the way are visible, and Alberta Falls is magnificent with her liquid gold spilling into Glacier Creek. A section of the trail, along a ridge by Glacier Knobs, is comprised of loose rock. Due to this, I recommend a rigid hiking shoe or boot.
After departing the Loch Vale Trail, we only saw one group of hikers along the The Lake Haiyaha spur. This trail is considered to be unimproved, but we were able to follow it without much trouble. As we walked, the ground seemed to become greener right before our very eyes. Much of the area just lost its last bit of snow that very week, and the ground with its blanket of green, sprang under our feet. Water poured down hillsides, enriching the landscape. Several tiny creeks beckoned us, and we stopped to admire the tiny brookies feeding in the rich water. It was tough to pass up these little guys, but the goal of the day was to check out Lake Haiyaha.
With every step, our surroundings became snowier, yet breathtaking. Lake Haiyaha did not disappoint. Boulder strewn banks, crystal clear water, frozen inlet, thigh deep snow surrounding, and Yellowstone cutthroat…need I say more. Perhaps Dustin and I had a brave streak, because we took across the boulders to check out the inlet. One wrong move, and we had the potential to be trapped, or fall 10 feet into icy water. A gentle step, and a sturdy core were essential in this rough terrain. Once at the inlet, we stopped, admired, and reflected on how lucky we are.
Alas, we were not able to target those beautiful Yellowstones. We sat idly by, as two chunky, 16-18” fish cruised at a depth of about 3’. Threatening clouds, and warning thunder let us know we needed to start our descent, as boulder hopping proved quite time consuming. On the way back, we crossed some of the snow fields instead of boulder climbing along the bank. Adrenaline pulsed through our veins, as we had no idea what holes existed under the snow. A few times, we post holed or slid, but nothing too treacherous befell us. Sighing with relief, we concluded that if the rain moved away we would target some of those brookies on the way back to the car.
Off trail hiking has yet to let Dustin and I down. Venturing off the beaten path has lead us to less wary, hungry trout. A fitting reward for climbing deadfall, and sacrificing pints of blood to the voracious mosquitoes. Dustin pulled several brookies out of a tiny, tiny stream. I watched as I rigged up my rod, and swatted away the would be takers of my precious blood. Moving on to a gin clear pool, nestled on the edge of the mountain, Dustin and I took brook after brook. The fly could barely touch the water before a starving fish inhaled it. I’ve never seen fishing like this before in my life. Granted, these guys were bitty, but that did not make them any less spectacular.
Every weekend, a new adventure allows us a brief time to get get away from all our daily trials, escape to a place where our mind is quiet, the senses enriched and our hearts full.
PS: This trip report is just a bit delayed – the conditions contained here are those found a week ago.