Lake Serene Hike 7-9-2010
I hiked the lake Serene trail today, having heard so many great (and scary) things about this lake. The great would be a spectacular alpine lake with amazing views, close to home. The not so great – a killer hike with steep switch-backs designed to totally wear a hiker down. Happy to say, the great far outweighed the not so great (which wasn’t that bad).
This lake’s trail had been closed for many years until the Forest Service re-built the trail making it safer and more hiker-friendly. The trail is indeed very steep – and longer than advertised. The sign at the trailhead said “3.6 miles, strenuous hike”, but my round trip GPS came in at 9.6 miles. Elevation gain was 2,083 ft to a maximum elevation of 3,597 ft. It took me about 2.0 hrs in and 1 hr out. I am continuing to be surprised at the discrepancy between the guide book numbers and my GPS unit. There are a LOT of switchbacks, 23 is the number I’ve seen. And a LOT of stairs! They could call this hike “the stairway to heaven”. And heaven would be a good description to use. As I rounded the last switchback and got my view of Mt Index up close, and then actually reached the lake, I was in silent awe. My first impressions were of being in a cathedral and it being a sacred place. The quiet and beauty were amazing. Of course, I did start the hike at 7am so it was just me for about – 15 minutes. Even on a weekday this is a hugely popular hike. There were probably 20 or so groups that I saw today.
I wasn’t sure if there were fish in this lake. I was unable to find any information other than an elevation listing in my Washington State Fishing Guide, but that was good enough to bring my gear with me. I was not disappointed as I quickly observed fishing dimpling the surface. I cast a Fish Creek Spinner out and got an immediate bump, but no hook up. Several fish followed, but each cast less and less did. I switched to a Montana nymph and had an immediate hook up and lost fish, and then the same, nothing. I worked around a boulder field to the far side of the lake and found what I was looking for – deep water close in with large boulders and downed trees for cover. I switched to a green/black wooley bugger and immediately started catching fish. Typical Alpine Lake 6-10”, kinda skinny, but still a lot of fun to being catching fish! I will be honest and admit to poor fish ID skills for these Alpine Lake fish. You tell me from the pictures. I think they are rainbow. I looked and found no red slash marks under the gills. Amazing colors and they are beautiful fish. I caught 3-4 and lost several others.
Time for lunch and then a steady descent back to the parking lot which now had 10-15 vehicles in it. I’m told on a weekend the overflow goes to a lower lot and beyond, so be warned. If you have the opportunity to visit this lake on a weekday – GO! You will not regret the effort because the payoff is well worth it.