Today was what this entire trip was about. Wildflowers, a good strong hike & Wild Basin. We arrive at the TH at 5:30 and were greeted by a cool, crisp, clear morning. We are some of the first to arrive and seemingly we have the entire Basin to ourselves. We were stoked because we knew our working out in preparation for this hike was gonna make it a breeze. Sandy had promised that she would keep the stopping for photos to a minimum. Our primary objective was to gain Lion Lakes and its wildflowers.
Our agreement had been that if Sandy would forego shooting every tree and rock along the way, that we would stop at Ouzell and she could shoot to her heart’s content……for 1 hour. We arrived around 7:00 and had it to ourselves. We had never seen Ouzel like this. An incredible amount of water was roaring down. The spray was even covering the bridge on the trail. We slithered our way up to the falls and Sandy went to work with the Canon. As is our normal routine, she shoots - I eat. I found a spot on the backside of Ouzel, in the rocks, that was sheltered from the spray dry enough to sit and eat. I settled in for a snack and a drink. Then the words I’ve come to dread –“Billy, I need perspective.” (Perspective is a photographer’s word for “dummy to stand by my subject”.) I pretended not to hear. She finally came up and asked (told) me to stand by the falls so she could get “perspective” of the scene. I throw on the backpack (this has to look real, not staged) and muck my way up to the edge of Ouzel. I’m getting soaked. It’s like being in a hurricane – seriously. Trying to stand there at the edge, the wet ground would begin to give way and I would lose my balance. Of course this would happen just as she took the picture, so we would have to do it again. It took about 10 minutes to finally finish. Returning to the dry alcove was easy enough, I just stood still and slid back down. We spent a few more minutes, Sandy eating, me drying my glasses and wringing out my moustache and then hit the trail again.
Again the hiking was easy. Beautiful views (my favorite was seeing the burn area restoring quite nicely thank you) and a still cool, fresh morning made for fantastic hiking. We eventually came to the point where the trail splits. “Uh-Oh!” We notice: The trail that leads on to Thunder Lake – a nice
manageable incline. The trail to Lion: Dang near a 90 degree angle that goes as high into the sky as our eyes can see! We bravely head to the right where the trail carries us (oh, that it would have carried us) to Lion. This part of the trail was brutal (for us). We worked as hard on that last 2 ½ miles as anything we'd ever done! But at long last we come to several small snowfields (in JUNE. . .a site for Texans’ sore eyes!!!), over a bluff and there to the left is…Lion Lake?? It looks so much larger in the photos we had seen. The flowers were lovely, but it was so, so…..small. Sandy sets up her tripod and began shooting everything. I decide I want to explore, so I take off up a hill and around the bend. Across another, much larger snowfield and BAM – the real Lion Lake in all its glory takes what little breath I had left AWAY! I hurry back to gather up Sandy. We finally make it to the lake. One of the most incredible mountain lakes I’ve ever seen. Stunning, breathtaking, awesome….words just can’t describe the scene. I’ll let Sandy’s photos do the talking for me.