The Laramee Filter: pseudorandom thoughts, subsequently put on the Internet.
Tom Laramee
Date Published:
July 12th, 2022
Word Count:
879 (7:30 read time)
Filed Under:

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Thompson Lake Is Stunning

I had a chance to take a quick run to Thompson Lake, knowing all of the snow had melted and I could easily[1] get to the lake.

Knowing it was going to be hot day, I set out early to avoid peak sun. Almost all of my run to the lake was in shade (the sun was up, it was almost entirely obscured by mountains). And even though my plan mostly worked out, I drank an insane amount of water: 60oz on the trail and about 20oz more immediately after I finished (and I was still dehydrated).

The very first time I ran this one I made the mistake of running the initial segment of the trail (from the parking lot to the junction with the Granite Creek trail). This short section is just over one mile long and has an elevation gain of 888', making it impressively[2] steep. The problem with attempting to run it is that, by the time you get to "the starting point" (aka: the junction with the main trail), you're exhausted, and the mental game of "Can I actually run all the way to the lake / I don't think I can" begins[3].

Given all that, here are the vital stats on this one (they don't include the hiking data):

Total Distance:
8.75 miles
Elevation Gain:
Total Duration:
2h 9m 31s

It's worth noting that, with the hiking data added in relevant stats become 9.95 miles of total distance and 3,714' of elevation gain.

And a couple of [possibly] useful links: Garmin data (short hike), Garmin data (there), Garmin data (back), WTA description of the lake.

Here's what this all looks like on a map:

My Approach Was Two Segments: Hiking and Then Trail Running
As It Turns Out, It's Easier To Run Down a Trail Than Up
This Is the Best Photo I'ver Ever Taken of Thompson Lake

As it turns out, if you walk out/across the boulder field that's just above the lake, you can get a photo of the entire lake. This is the only vantage point I've found from which this can be done.

When you're at the lake's edge, a bunch of areas of the lake are hidden (by shorelines, trees, etc), and the 2nd island can be difficult to see. A detour of just a couple hundred feet across the boulder field, approximately 150'-200' above the lake's surface yields a stunning view of almost all of the lake:

A View of Lake Thompson They You Usually Don't See

Also, the next photo is a panorama. As it turns out, my camera has a "panorama" function, and the photo I took using it came out really well (in truth, I took several photos and tossed all but one into the digital trash). The preview is below, with a URL to a high-rez version:

Click here for a high-rez version (8192x1856, 6.2MB)
Here are a Handful of My Favorite Images

(Note those images are clickable for decent-rez versions)

As usual, I got some awesome photos. For the 1st time I left my Olympus TG-6 behind and brought a Sony RX100 VII, so I think the quality and resolution of these photos is better than usual.

The View of the Lake As You Descend Into the Basin
Beautiful Blue and the Closer Island
Framed By Some Trees and Shade
Showing the Visual Symmetry and Mirror-like Surface of the Lake
The Tumble-Down Boulder Field Near the Trail's Descent to the Lake
Looking Up at the Upper Basin Ridge
Selfie Or It Didn't Happen
Nice to See So Many Colors (Last Time I Was Here This Was All Under Snow)
The Water Is Crystal Clear
Awesome Photo of One of the Two Islands
The Best Photo of the Lake, Zoomed Out a Little
Looking Across At the Lake's Steep Basin
Taken After Following the Trail Towards Mt. Defiance
Note the Steep Slope: That's How Steep the Trail Is In This Section
[1] Easily being a relative term here. This trail, as a trail run, is fairly brutal.
[2] Other apt words here include "mercilessly" and/or "punishingly".
[3] To me, this is one of the main ironies of trail running: it's largely a mental challenge. I can't remember a trail run where I didn't begin by telling myself something like "you can do this".