Flattop Mountain via Tyndall Glacier, 05/29/2000

To celebrate Memorial Day, I decided to (finally) climb up Tyndall Gorge, and ascend Flattop Mountain via Tyndall Glacier (which is rated AI2, or AI3 at its steepest), thinking it would be a good training climb for Rainier -- oh, and thinking it would be a fun route in its own right (which, of course, it was -- a classic).

I was actually up this trail just a week earlier, and took many similar pictures. If you're interested, you can read that earlier report. It's kinda cool to see how the snow has melted in one warm spring week.

I planned on waking at 5am, not necessarily because of thunderstorms or melty glacier conditions in the afternoon, but to avoid the Memorial Day crowds at Bear Lake. By some strange turn of events, I actually woke up at 4:30, a full half-hour before my alarm (that never happens, except on weekends when I want to sleep in). I packed everything the night before, so after a quicky breakfast I was off.

By some miracle, I managed to get the parking space in the Bear Lake lot closest to the trailhead. I'm still in shock... just so people believe me, I took a picture (the red Tracker on the right is mine):

As the shock began to wear off, I headed out. Within minutes (or so it seemed) I was at Nymph Lake. The light was incredible, and my measly point-and-click digital camera actually did pretty good for the next hour or so. First, at the south shore, looking north:

Then at the north shore, looking south, towards Otis Peak:

And again on the north shore, this time looking towards Thatchtop:

And up the trail I went, heading to Dream Lake. The views on this stretch are incredible, as the forest opens up a bit. The view towards Glacier Gorge:

Nearing Dream Lake, the trail becomes a snow-hiking adventure. In fact, pretty much until the summit of Flattop the adventure is on snow (at least this time of year). The view up Tyndall Gorge towards the massive northern buttresses of Hallett is impressive, and reflects well into Dream Lake:

The winter ice of Dream Lake was almost gone. Though it is hard to see in this picture, there were several icebergs floating about in the darkened waters:

On the western end of the lake, I took a few pictures looking east. The lack of people (I saw nobody until much later that day) and the calm waters reminded me of Lake Verna, on the west end of the park. How often can you get a solitude-strewn picture of Dream Lake on Memorial Day?

The adventure's not over yet! Look at Part II!

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