Sunday, July 20, 2008 Vince Poore and I start up the trail shortly after 8:00 am. We arrive at Mystic Lake a bit over an hour later. The lake pool is full. A bit of overcast keeps things cool.
We follow the main trail along the Lake for a short distance, then take the smaller Phantom Creek Trail that ascends the ridge to the left. 29 switchbacks await.
A sharp turn in the trail signals the approach of the Phantom Creek trail. It's easy to miss.
Vince half way up.
Corbin on the trail as it leaves one ridge line and takes us east to follow another ridge up.
Patterned ground just after we gain the top of the Froze to Death Plateau. 4 miles and another 1,600' of elevation to go to the high camps.
Rock Cairns guide the way.
Vince on snow at the edge of the Froze to Death
Soft grass and flowers just greening up after lying months in the dark under deep snow.
Mount Hague (left) and Mount Wood (center). Mount Wood is the second highest peak in Montana.
The skies clear off.
This small valley is lush and very green
A family of goats graze on tender grass
A winter's coat looking a little bedraggled before the summer coat fully emerges
Look! Humans! Let's check them out!
A huge snow field feeds a creek that lasts all summer. All but one of these climbers were in their tents catching some afternoon z's before their early morning departure for the summit.
Patterned ground with Granite Peak poking up to the right and Tempest on the left horizon
Rock Wind Breaks on the left
Casper the Friendly Goat
Still shedding last winter's coat
The big high camp area looking north
North Face of Granite Peak with East Ridge on the left side.
Storm Tower just north of Granite Peak, with Mystic Peak looming above it.
Sun cups in the big consolidated snow fields
Limber Pine cone buds: they look almost like small raspberries
Moss Campion, a "cushion plant" probably at least 10 years old
Fir Tree fresh growth
If you simply stand still, their curiosity pulls them right up next to you
Water flows through paddocks of grass
A rosette is a circular arrangement of leaves, with all the leaves at a single height. This small ground hugging plant is plentiful at 11,750'. Anthocyanin, the red pigment rimming the leaves, converts sunlight to heat. Its evolutionary history is a reflection of the environment. To survive, it keeps its head down and makes the most of the brief and often interrupted season of summer.
Vince and Friend
Cornice with large cracks foretelling its release
Shrinking snow banks
We leave the Plateau somewhere around 7:00 pm to start down the 29 switchbacks to Mystic Lake. Back to the trailhead by twilight after 10:00 pm. A long day, but a great day.