Original story Feb.2019
A big improvement
The old Mirror Lake Trail started from Hwy 26 and the limited trailhead parking was in a very dangerous spot. The Forest Service has done a nice job of correcting the problem. The new trailhead parking is at the west end of the Ski Bowl parking area, and is much safer and has room for more cars.
Starts nice and wide
The trail starts out as wide as a road. It goes down to the first creek gradually, using several switchbacks, and eventually intersects the old trail. It's well graded most of the way; just gets a little steep shortly before you reach the old trail. There was just enough snow to enjoy using my Altai Skis, aka "skishoes".
The Forest Service did a nice job with about 7 bridges that look like this:
Lots of creeks
This tiny falls with the icycles in front looks like a river, but that's just because I was playing with my telephoto lens to make a closeup.
I was a little surprised that Mirror Lake was frozen because it's been so mild this winter. I took a chance (Not a life threatening chance - the lake is shallow) and skied out onto the lake. But not recommending this - I only weigh 150 lbs, and my weight was spread out with my skishoes.
Changing snow depth
Crossing the lake and heading up in the woods on the south side, the snow depth and texture varied in several ways. In timber, a lot of the snow is still on the tree tops, so it's not deep on the ground. It's much deeper in the open areas. Another factor, of course, is elevation. On the lower trail, there was about 2" of snow total. At the lake, it was about 6". About halfway up the the mountain, on open slopes, I got into the deep stuff. There was about 6" of powder on top of about a 3' base. The base had melted a little during the previous warm spell, and then formed a frozen crust.
This view (above) is not something many people see, because if someone wants to go up to the top of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain above the lake, there is a trail that goes way around and approaches from the backside. Not many people climb straight up from the lake. I didn't go above the timber (about halfway up the south side) because of avalanche danger.
Bushwhacking off trail, the slope was hard to handle because of the icy crust underneath. I'm glad my Altai skis have steel edges. I soon wore myself out and headed back down to the lake and the trail. But I love exploring.
Made a little video of the whole trip, showing the lake and climbing in the different conditions. It's less than 3 minutes long. Starts with the 6 AM weather report, which I like to check before going out. Watch Here
Link to NF trail info. (Before trailhead was moved to Ski Bowl.) Click Here
I scribbled out the part of the old trail, and drew a line showing that the new trail starts at Ski Bowl and joins the upper part of the old trail. Another line, more or less north and south, shows where I was bushwhacking. this map also shows the trail that goes to the top by going way around the western edge of the area.
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