Up above Ingalls Lake
Our last trip was to Ingalls Lake. This was a 5 day trip to work on campsite restoration and minor trail maintenance. Ingalls Lake is a highly visited site in the wilderness, which means it needs that much more work done to keep it looking nice. Camping is no longer allowed at the actual lake, since there are very few places to camp around the lake and the few sites that are there are in terrible shape. The sites have been closed for some time now, and are starting to look better, but are going to need some major time to be fully restored. Our job was to make sure these sites are still coming along in their restoration and to make sure that no one is camping in them. If you want to camp near the lake you have to camp in the Headlight Basin, about a half a mile down from the lake. We did the majority of our work on these campsites. We were working on de-compacting the soil to promote vegetation to return to the areas trampled by hikers/campers. We also installed rock icebergs to stop people from enlarging the existing sites. The way these work is that you bury a big rock so just the top sticks out of the ground, that way no one can put a tent there since this rock is in the way. We put these around the edges of the existing sites to keep people camping on the already impacted soil. People tend to want to spread out; this is our way of discouraging this and saving surrounding vegetation. Also, we worked on closing user built trails in the campsites. These are trails that people have worn in going from place to place instead of using the designated trails. It looks really bad when there are 6 trails going to the same water source when one would do the trick. We close these trails by filling them with brush and rocks, hopefully keeping people off of them so vegetation will return and also directing people to the already worn in trails and helping prevent further erosion to the landscape.
The lake and surrounding area were absolutely stunning. We had an amazing view of the south face of Mt. Stewart from our campsite and during all of our hikes.
The lake and basin is surrounded by soapstone (Serpentine), which is pretty, but really damn slippery when you are trying to climb it. Our days were filled with working on the campsites, and our afternoons were spent climbing/hiking/scrambling around the surrounding rock and trails. The weather was perfect other than Friday, which was windy and cold. The first night out, Adam, another wilderness ranger I live with hiked in with his friend because they were climbing Stewart the next day. We stayed up a little later than normal drinking Yerba and looking up at the Milky Way, counting shooting stars. Our last evening out we had a visitor at our camp, another goat! This one was not nearly as obnoxious as some of the others we have encountered this summer. This being our last trip, everyone got along very well, with plenty of stories and craziness between the crew members. It will be sad to leave Washington, this place is amazing, but I am very anxious to get home to see Laurie and my family. Not being with laurie for 3 months hasn’t been easy. My dad will be here soon and we planning on doing a few hikes here, then heading to the Tetons and then off to Devil’s Tower before arriving back home.
One of the hikes we went on included some major scrambling along this ridge.
Getting ready to leave. Wow does my hair look gross in this picture.