Blanched

Posted by on July 7, 2015 at 5:28 pm :: No Comments

There’s no time like the present to try something new even if it melts you, just ask the Wicked Witch.

Lake Blanche, at an elevation of 8,929 feet, is one of Utah’s most popular hiking destinations, one we’d never been to until we decided last month to trek to its praised shores on a warm Sunday. Although Blanche’s trail climbs 2,680 feet up Big Cottonwood Canyon over 3.2 miles, those stats didn’t intimidate us. But I guess we should have paid less attention to the ascent details and more to the weather. We presumed that the route to Blanche would be sheltered in heat-deflecting trees and ventilated by mountain breezes. We were way off. (I’ve got to be wrong at least once in my life just to have the experience.)

The terrain around Lake Blanche bursts with surprising clusters of crimson.

The terrain around Lake Blanche bursts with surprising clusters of crimson.

As it turns out, the majority of Blanche’s path is directly in the sun’s blazing gaze for most of the day. Hence, our temperatures escalated as we scaled until prolific sweat swaddled us like soggy blankets. Seriously, I don’t remember being that sweaty ever before. It was kind of really miserable. I had to make Jason sit down at one point because he was shaky from the severe roasting he was receiving.

Sundial Peak looms above Lake Blanche with all the authority of its 10,320 feet.

Sundial Peak looms above Lake Blanche with all the authority of its 10,320 feet.

We trooped on though and hit Lake Blanche in a little less than two hours. Our misfortunes were quickly forgotten along its charming (and cool I might add) waterline.

My tiny toes don't appreciate being confined to hiking boots so I pad my feet to give those digits the illusion of space.

My tiny toes don’t appreciate being confined to hiking boots so I pad my feet to give those digits the illusion of space.

An ice age ago, Blanche filled in a basin left by a crushing glacier. It wears a vibrant collar of red rock on one side like a stunning necklace and empties, via a dramatic waterfall, into two smaller pools, Lake Florence and Lake Lillian. We spent an hour and a half exploring all of these idyllic waters. Naturally, it was delightful.

Dromedary Peak is another dominating feature of Blanche's surroundings.

Dromedary Peak is another dominating feature of Blanche’s surroundings.

I’m happy to report that our trip down the mountain was much pleasanter than our reverse journey. The sun had retreated behind the hills by that point so succumbing to heatstroke was no longer mandatory. (Yeah, you better run sun!)

Lake Blanche is remarkably reflective, almost dazzling.

Lake Blanche is remarkably reflective, almost dazzling.

In total, we wandered 7.62 miles over 5.5 hours. Since we only accumulated three of those miles in the most wretched of fashions, this affair couldn’t be considered torturous as a whole. I’m glad we did it even though we nearly drowned in puddles of our own perspiration. However, if you’d asked me my opinion on the matter in the middle of our damp rising, I might have mumbled a different answer, assuming I had the energy to give any response at all.

Alpine flowers bloom in Big Cottonwood Canyon around June.

Alpine flowers bloom in Big Cottonwood Canyon around June.

The moral of this sticky tale? If you find yourself longing for the enticing shores of Lake Blanche in the middle of summer, make sure that longing strikes you early in the morning.

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