Chipmunk and Ypsilon Lakes
By Michael Dallin
June 15, 1996
10 miles round trip
Class 1 (trail all the way)

This became a solo adventure up to Ypsilon Lake. The past few days had been rainy, and this day was no different. However, it was a lot clearer in the mountains than on the plains. I donned my rain gear and set out up Lawn Lake Trail.

I've hiked up the trail a few times now, but I've never taken the Ypsilon Lake turnoff. It was still pretty cloudy and grey, but that didn't matter. I crossed Roaring River on a log bridge, and headed back into the forest.

Even if it was clear, it would be hard to see far in this area. The forest is somewhat dense and blocks the view in every direction. It is a real pretty, pristine area, however. Occasionally I could see down into Horseshoe Valley.

After a few miles of climbing, I reached a ridge top of sorts. Past this ridge top, the trail headed back down. Unfortunately for me, the trail moved from the warm south facing slope to the snow-drift-laden north facing slope. Thank whoever invented gators!

On the way down, the misty clouds occasionally parted to reveal Ypsilon. What a towering face! Shortly I arrived at what I assumed was Chipmunk Lake. It is actually a small pond. A few hikers were resting on a rock on the shore. They were the first hikers I'd seen all day! Sometimes hiking in the rain has advantages!

The trail skirted the southern shore and entered forest again. The rain had picked up a bit, and mixed with the snowdrifts crossing the trail, the going became very wet. After a few minutes, I arrived at the shore of another pond, roughly the same size as Chipmunk Lake. In fact, it may be Chipmunk Lake. Every map I've seen only shows one pond in the area. However, judging by the shallow rockiness of this second pond, I would guess that it is only temporary and the first pond was Chipmunk Lake. Regardless, I scrambled around on some nearby rocks searching for that great camera angle. It doesn't have to be named to be photographed!

A bit past "Lower Chipmunk Lake", I reached Ypsilon Lake. The last bit of the approach was under large drifts, and became a steep nightmare of snow and mud. I could barely see a small log footbridge crossing an inlet stream. By this time it was cloudy again, and I could barely see past the lake.

But what a lake! Even from this angle (facing towards Mummy Mountain, which was hidden by clouds) the lake is serene. The western end of the lake (which I was on) is ringed with towering cliffs, and presumably Ypsilon Mountain itself above (too cloudy to tell). The eastern end is ringed with gentle sloping forest and a ridge reaching down from Fairchild.

Because I am stupid, I decided to reach the other end of the lake. Of course, the northern end was blocked by cliffs, and the southern end was under several feet of snow. The going was a post-hole nightmare, and very slow and wet. Everytime I touched a tree I was treated to a new shower of rain dripping from above. By the time I reached the opposite end, I was soaked!

I walked out to the shore and took a few photos. The clouds around Ypsilon Mountain had parted somewhat, but I could barely see the monstrous cliffs above. After a bit, I headed back.

When I reached the inlet stream again, I followed it a ways. From the shore I could hear a noisy waterfall, and I wanted to see it. It is actually rather close to the shore, and is a nice place. After visiting it, it was time to leave.

The way back was mostly uneventful, but I did have two casualties. First, a string connecting my camera lenscap to the lens disappeared (luckily, the cap stayed with the camera). Second, my watchband broke. I'd have lost the watch, but it got stuck in my raincoat sleeve! Both had succumbed to the wet rain, which had picked up.

Above Roaring River the trail winds close to a ledge overlooking Horseshoe Valley. I decided to hike over to the edge for some photos. On the way, smart old me slipped on a wet log. Fun! Luckily I wasn't hurt, or near the edge! The rest of the trip back was uneventful.

In all, I only say maybe a dozen folks on the trail, and most of those on the way back. I'm sure that it was the weather, since this was a Saturday! However, I've always loved hiking in the rain, seeing how green the forest can become. If you've never done it, try it sometime! But, don't forget that raincoat!