Blue Canyon Lake 2013

Half of our High School Eight group of friends were willing to attempt the short but exertion-filled Blue Canyon Lake hike off of HWY 108. The other four friends opted for less extreme forms of entertainment and a hearty breakfast. As far as the geology in the area, here is the brief version: Granites intruded 80+ million years ago. Surface weathering exposed granite rocks by 11 million years ago. Little Walker caldera spews huge amounts of ash, mudflows and lava 10ma, re-covering exposed granites. Glaciation over the past million years re-exposed the granites and carved out common glacial erosional features in remaining lava flows on high peaks. Enjoy the photo journal of one of the best, prettiest hikes in the Emigrant Wilderness.
Ryan, Steve & Aric start down the trail to cross Deadman Creek.  Mule ears were blooming everywhere! Steve and Aric about 5 minutes into the trail.  You can still make out HWY 108 in middle of the left edge. Ryan heads up the canyon composed of volcanic flows and breccias. Steve makes the first stream crossing look easy.
Aric just takes a normal stride across the creek. The sun made itself known about a mile into the trail. Note the abundance of Spreading Phlox growing along the ground. We got to see a solar 22 degree halo around the sun.  It's caused by light refracting off of hexagaonal ice crystals in the upper atmosphere (the cirrus clous in this case).  The funny looking line running diagonally across the center of the photos is a fresh contrail from a jet with its shadow projected on the lower clouds. A pretty little seasonal creek.
There are quite a few slick up and downs on the trail.  Here Steve and Aric navigate over more of Relief Peak volcanic formation. Here, at about .8 miles into the hike, the trail is filled with talus in a narrow canyon that must be conquered in a steep climb in order to get to easier walking. The view down the U-shaped, glacially-carved Blue Canyon towards HWY 108.  Note the granite on the other side of the road.  The lavas I'm standing on filled-in an old granite canyon sometime between 11 and 9Ma (Ma = Mega-annum = million years). Aric confronts a familiar foe... water.
Stuck the landing like a champ! Ryan likes bird watching while hiking.  Here we've just gotten out of the roughest bit of trail. Aric takes-in the view. The trail climbs quite rapidly. The pointy peak in the background is Stanislaus Peak, 11,233ft.
Suncups still covered about 300 yards of trail near the lake. Crossing a small snow field.  THe lake is just around the corner! Aric makes his way across the snow field as clouds start to build from a rare late June storm system. This section of trail is much easier when the snow is gone... just follow the creek.  We, however, had to avoid the snow bridge over the creek and scramble up the loose rocks.
Steve likes to encourage hiking on steep, unstable slopes by throwing snowballs. Ahhh... the final ascent. Unnamed peaks of the Relief Peak lava flows. The sun finally came out to play right as we made our final approach to the lake.
Lovely, lovely cirrus clouds. Blue Canyon Lake... a tarn within a glacial cirque.  This was the starting point of a small galcier during the last ice-age. Blue Canyon Lake may be home to some large Golden Trout.  Still have yet to catch one. Great view of the volcanic flow layering in the Relief Peak Formation.
So I says to the guy 'How you doin'? Aric, Steve, Ryan & Me (Ryan).  The clouds finally closed-in, the winds whipped-up and the temperature dropped like a rock. Cool lenticular cloud. Time to head home.
Glacially polished breccia on the trail. Gnarly. I don't know how to caption this photo. Gorgeous cascade off the trail.
Creative route-taking 101. Ryan and Steve provide some perspective for this crazy scramble down into the creek bed.  RJH8179 By this point, I think Aric and Ryan had given-up on my route-finding abilities.
The route sure was pretty. Almost back to the trail! In retrospect, the trail wasn't much nicer than our cross-country route. Fun times! And with that we all headed our seperate ways!