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It was going to be a longer day, but a good one nonetheless, up in the mountains for work. My goal was to sample the water quality of three lakes off of the Brewer OHV trail. I had it planned for a couple months now and was actually surprised at what we found. Not with the water quality but with the snow. I was not alone in my adventure out to these lakes as a couple of coworkers came with me.
We drove up in the jeep and arrived about a 10 minute walk from Brewer Lake. The snow patches and wet trail was not worth driving over. Better to not create any resource damages this way. Out on foot we went and it wasn’t looking that bad until we made the descent down towards Brewer Lake. We ended up walking on 4 to 6 feet of snow at times. It was hard and well packed. You did not need snow shoes at all. It was quite impressive to discover this, but at the same time it would slow our progress down.
Arriving at brewer lake, I walked out on a fallen tree to get some water quality samples. You could hear the water flowing into the lake as well as out of it. It was very peaceful and quiet. We were the only ones out there. Once the samples were done and a quick snack, we proceeded down and around the lake where I would collect one more sample at the outlet.
The outlet crossing was not a problem. The water was nice and cold though according to my water quality probe. It was around 48 degrees. Once the data was collected we proceeded east towards Tocher Lake.
Once again the user trail was completely covered in snow. The rings around the trees were quite impressive. Having maps and digital maps, it was not hard to find where to go. I didn’t expect to ever see the trail at this point with all the snow, but to I think all of our surprises the snow receded enough and the hiking trail appeared. It was still well established and holding up just fine. The last few hundred yards was covered in snow again but you could see Tocher Lake through the trees.
Arriving at Tocher Lake, my coworkers grabbed photos and starting eating lunch. I went out on another fallen tree to get my samples again. Two rainbow trout were hiding under the log. One was about 6 inches and the other around 8 inches. Very good looking fish and I kept dabbing my finger on the top of the water to bring them in. It was working and they were not too far from my feet when the realized there was “something” on the log and went back out.
Anyway, I sat on the log for another minute to enjoy the sound of the waterfalls. In front of my on the mountainside one could see the snow melting and filling in the lake. Looking at the map later the inlet and outlet were both located on the east side of the lake. Now it was time to get off the log, enough some lunch, and get another sample at the outlet of the lake.
We crossed the outlet and while I sampled the water the ladies went to enjoy some sun. It was warming up and the sun did feel nice. Upon meeting up with them again we checked the time. Due to so much snow to walk over, we decided the other lake (Beryl) would have to wait. I suggested checking out the falls we were hearing for the inlet of Tocher, so we proceeded for another few hundred yards to check it out.
It was great to see so much water. Arriving at the small set of falls sound of the water crashing on the rocks made the flows sound harsher then they were. It was not a big falls at all. We snapped some photos and proceeded on our way back down.
Some of the snow that used to cover the flow was receding. Ice layers were thick and still holding on strong. I posed for a fun photo before going onward.
We quickly arrived at our first creek crossing. It was slow moving and easy to cross. The one part that seemed to get everyone was at the 3/4 mark. The cold temperatures caused our calf muscles to cramp. Not that we were going to be in trouble or anything like that. For me it was as if my body realized, “that’s freezing water, I shouldn’t be in here” kind of response. A few more steps and we were across and on our way.
For the most part the way back was easy. We just had to follow or own snow prints and, if they were gone, keep heading in a general direction to Brewer Lake. The warming sun was starting to melt the snow we walked on as we all sunk in a little bit more. Again, nothing scary or concerning, but it just wasn’t that “rock hard and packed” snow on the top.
Passing by Brewer Lake I paused once more to take in the view. Now it was an uphill climb on snow to the top. Again no problem since the snow was really packed in well. We arrived back at the jeep in about a hour after leaving Tocher Lake. All in all a good first hike into the forest and great sampling results!