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Duck Pass Trip

Day 4 of 6

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Thursday, August 10th
Day hike from Ram Lake to Franklin Lake
3.1 miles
900 vertical feet (ascent)
900 vertical feet (descent)
3:06


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The kids had complained they had never had a zero day on a backpacking trip. I've only had three zero days that I can remember, though they weren't completely rest days. On all of them we did day hikes of varying lengths. That was before kids, though.

I really wanted to hike to Franklin Lake, and my wife wanted to go with me, but the kids wanted a true zero day. So, after much discussion we decided we would trust the kids as long as they kept the radio on so we could check on them, and they stayed near the tent. They mostly stayed in the tent playing during the 3 hours while we were gone.

After sleeping in, Jean and I got started at 11:50am. There's no trail to Franklin Lake as far as I know, but I figured it wouldn't be too hard to find a good route. The terrain didn't look too difficult. Our first task was to hike between the upper and middle Ram Lakes, but Jean didn't feel comfortable with one particular rock hop. So, since the middle lake is so small, we decided we'd just walk over and hike between the middle and lower lakes instead.

Lower Ram Lake

Upper Ram Lake

After reaching the intersection of those two lakes, we easily rock-hopped across the stream connecting the two lower lakes. Then we started climbing, angling to the southeast. The trail mostly climbs, but never steeply, and Franklin Lake is only about 400 feet higher in elevation than Ram Lake.

Middle and Upper Ram Lake

Middle and Upper Ram Lake

All three lakes

The terrain was fairly easy, without much in the way of vegetation to get in the way. Occasionally we'd have to take a slightly different line because a boulder was too large to go over, but it was pretty easy to work around these obstacles.

Little streams above Ram Lake

We crossed some small streams, then crested a ridge. We now had to pass over several snow fields. None of them were steep, and were easily crossed (we had trekking poles and used them, but they probably weren't necessary).

As we climbed, we gained views of the Ram Lakes below. We radioed down to the kids to check up on them. Then we left the lakes behind and started to see other smaller bodies of water, and streams running under snow fields. Also visible peeking over the mountains to the northeast was Bloody Mountain, distinctively red against the gray of all the other peaks.

Ponds above Ram Lake

Crossing a snow field on the way to Franklin Lake

After about an hour and a half, we reached the shores of Franklin Lake. The lake is mostly surrounded on the approach (north) side by tall bushes, so you can't really see much of the lake until you break through the bushes. So it's a somewhat dramatic sight when you finally do see it. Franklin Lake is a beautiful sight, its turquoise waters glistening in the sun beneath snow-covered mountains. Adding to the scene, the surface was still partly frozen (at least a small section closest to the mountains to the south). While we had a snack break, we could hear the sound of the snowmelt flowing into the lake. And of course we had the whole lake to ourselves.

Franklin Lake

Franklin Lake

Franklin Lake

Franklin Lake

A little ice still on Franklin Lake

After our snack break, we returned mostly the way we had come, easily retracing our steps since we'd left footprints in the snow. Since we knew the route back, it only took about an hour to get back to our camp at Ram Lake, where the kids were still inside the tent, enjoying their zero day. Well, Jared did admit to me that zero days are kind of boring. Next time they should join us on an easy day hike!

Ponds above Ram Lake

Bloody Mountain peeking over

Stream above Ram Lake

Stream above Ram Lake

Stream heading under the snow to the ponds

Stream above Ram Lake

Upper Ram Lake

After the hike, we decided we'd go swimming! Well, sort of. A brief step in the lake revealed just how cold the water was. Nathan actually braved the cold and swam in the lake for about 10-15 seconds before coming out. I could only dunk my head and legs for a few seconds at a time. It was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G! But still rather refreshing.

We had an early dinner. The kids created giant snow balls from a nearby snow field, then dipped them in the water to create ice structures. Then I walked around taking sunset pictures of all three lakes. We didn't see another person the whole time, though my kids did say they had heard a couple day hikers outside the tent while we were gone.

Playing in the snow next to Upper Ram Lake

Upper Ram Lake

Upper Ram Lake

Upper Ram Lake

It seemed strange that we saw several great campsites while walking around at sunset, and none of them were taken. Ram Lake is definitely a great place to visit if you like alpine lakes and solitude.

Ram Lake pond reflection

Ram Lake pond reflection

Ram Lake pond reflection

Middle Ram Lake

Lower Ram Lake

Lower Ram Lake sunset

Middle Ram Lake

Middle Ram Lake

Middle Ram Lake

Ram Lake pond reflection

Ram Lake sunset


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