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884 Summer Stories

High steps on the Finch Lake Trail

On a hike to Finch and Pear Lake this summer (2013), we started at the Wild Basin Trailhead. Hiked up the Wild Basin Trail to the Calypso Cascade Trail, and then on to the junction with the Finch Lake Trail. The graded trail made for a pleasant walk and soon we were at the shores of Finch Lake. We did not see any finches at the lake, but a Clarks Nutcracker entertained us as he sadly begged for food.

Continuing, the two mile trail to Pear Lake, it was still covered with snow, but easy to follow. The Pear Lake Trail had a few steep sections, but still was probably only rated as moderate. At Pear Lake we didn't see any pears (ha, Pear Lake was actually named for it's shape) and soon were on our way back to the trailhead.

On our return, we met many more hikers. After returning to Finch Lake and climbing to the shoulder above the lake, we arrived at the junction with the Calypso Cascades and Finch Lake trails. To avoid the crowded Wild Basin Trail, we decided to take the Finch Lake Trail to return to the trailhead. The Finch Lake and Wild Basin Trailheads are a short distance apart and can easily be looped together.

Finch and Peak Lakes map

Click for Larger Map

As we headed toward the Finch Lake Trailhead, we were walking leisurely across a very easy section of trail when we met a group of backpackers. They were standing huddled together but not saying a word. Their packs were large and filled to almost bursting. They looked very hot and were sweating. Each backpacker had the look of someone who had just about had enough - of something. We politely acknowledge the group, but they were not interested in talking to us. We scurried on past them.

Once out of ear distance, Amy and I talked about the odd encounter with the group. We decided that we either were not wearing enough deodorant or they were just having a rough day.

We were familiar with the Finch Lake Trail and knew that the natural overlook where we met the group, was at the top of a climb, but we didn't remember the climb as being overly difficult. As we descended the trail we changed our minds. The late morning hour had the sun shining directly onto us. The trail was steep and dusty. We started to understand the foul mood of the group, and then we encountered the steps.

The trail crew had spent a good deal of time sculpting the trail with steps. The steps probably resisted erosion, but the rise of most of the steps would have only been the appropriate height for giants. Going down the steps we felt as if we were jumping off each one. We could only imagine climbing the steps with heavy packs. No wonder the group was in a foul mood.

Unfortunately, hikers who also disliked the tall steps had made bypasses to the side of the trail to avoid the steep steps. The improper use had caused other erosion problems.

By the time we reached the bottom of the steps we understood why the group of hikers were is a bad mood. Over the next few days, I checked the local news regularly to see if there was any mention of a group leader being thrown off a cliff. If so, we knew why!

Happy High Step trails


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