The Laramee Filter: pseudorandom thoughts, subsequently put on the Internet.
Tom Laramee
Date Published:
May 19th, 2021
Word Count:
1,067 (10:00 read time)
Filed Under:

Rainy Lake Is a Special Place, If You Appreciate Brutal Hikes

If Ever A Trail Run Deserved It's Own Post, It's Rainy Lake

My first attempt to run to Rainy Lake was unsuccessful. I had to turn back when I was 90% of the distance there, which from my experience is only 75% of the work required to reach the lake. This is due to there being a scramble up a wickedly steep ridge just before you descend into the lake basin.

Turn out, I was less about 10-12 minutes away and 0.3 miles away, so, fairly close. Here are the stats from all four runs:

1h 21m
1h 25m
1h 22m
1h 29m
The First View When You Enter the Lake Basin
Dedication Plaque to George Lewis, Mounted Near the Shore Of the Lake

If you're having trouble reading the plaque:

This Plaque Has Been Placed Here By Trailblazers.
In Memory Of:
GEORGE LEWIS, 1920-1989

George Lewis gave people who enjoy mountain fishing tens of thousands of opportunities to catch trout. During his 35 years as a trailblazer he was responsible for stocking over 100,000 trout in dozens of mountain lakes.
(George Lewis Bio)

I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with Rainy Lake. It's one of the only runs that I've done where I'm just not sure, each time, that I'll be able to get to the actual lake. The trail is, in a word, a brutality. It's about 2,700 feet of elevation gain across 3 miles. It begins with a incredibly steep ascent to get above the creek, and that sets the pace right away. There are several incredibly steep scrambles along the way (usually over mud and roots), a handful of downed trees blocking the trail, a couple of boulder fields to cross, and then the grand finale is a nausea-inducing, jelly-legged run up over a wickely steep ridge, prior to descending into the lake basin itself.

To quote from the description:

The path alternates between brutal inclines and occasional plateaus, over a few blowdowns and straight up talus fields.

Can confirm.

Trying [Unsuccessfully] To Cool Off at a Creek Crossing, Prior to the Final Ascent

This is also the run that tests my resolve to the core. Why am I doing this? What's the point? I'm so slow. I must be in terrible shape. If I quit now I'll be a loser and a quitter. The run ends up being both a tortured mental exercise as well as brutal physical exercise.

I've attempted this run four times and was successful three of them. The last one, I was nauseous for the last mile, and felt sick for most of the day after I was done. I'm actually a little surprised that I finished that run.

There are so many photos, I'd like to break them up into two galleries:

      1. The Trail
      2. The Lake

The approach to the lake is incredibly variant. There are lush forests, talus slopes, granite boulders, mud and roots, scrambles, a brief view of Stegosaurus Butte, and a waterfall that's hopelessly difficult to get to. It ends in a taunt: How much do you really want this?!?, as you need to summit a ridge just just goes up and up and up, in order to reach your destination.

Image Gallery for the Trail To Rainy Lake
Granite Boulder Field, Approx One Mile In
This Trail is Incredibly Steep
Much of the First Part of the Run Is Near the Creek
My Stopping Point On Failed Attempt Number One
The Last Civilized Part of the Trail
The Are Some Lovely Sections of Forest
The Beginning of the Run Is Above the Creek
Taken Along the Final Ascent To the Ridge
One of the Only Mountain Views Along the Way
Garfield Mountain, Just Before the Ridge
Another Great Photo as You Approach the End
The Final Part is Incredibly, Wickedly Steep
Beautiful Mountain View From the Steep Slope
The Sun Rising Over Garfield Mountain
Taken on the Run Back. Verdent Trees, Moss, and Ferns
The Sun Rising Over Stegosaurus Butte

Once you're at the lake, take a well-deserved rest. It's a small lake, with a narrow, mostly overgrown, path that runs counterclockwise around 1/3rd of the lake. There is at least one hike that continues from here (Preacher Mountain and The Pulpit), which is one reason people camp by the lake.

Image Gallery for the Lake Itself
As You Enter the Lake Basin, This is What You See
I Was Pretty Happy To Make It the First Time
The East Shoreline, Looking Across the Lake
The Drainage Into Rainy Creek (North End)
Another View Across the Lake
The Path Around the Lake is Shrouded in Trees
Tumble-Down Boulder Field Adjecent to Preacher Mountain
Some Day, I'll Walk Across These Rocks To the Far Shore
There's a Camping Spot Where I'm Standing
The Color Of the Water On a Very Sunny Morning
Looking Back at the Campsite
The Day Before My 50th Birthday. Coincidence? I Don't Think So