An ice-covered Lake Angeles is shown Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

An ice-covered Lake Angeles is shown Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Getting out, staying safe: Hiker experiences Lake Angeles

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Now this is social distancing.

You could hear a pin drop from the frozen shores of Lake Angeles on Sunday, miles from the nearest person and a world removed from the coronavirus pandemic.

After days of being cooped up inside — we all should practice social distancing now — I decided to conduct an experiment and see if you can hike to Lake Angeles in March despite a snowpack 104 percent of normal.

It turns out you can access the 4,250-foot lake without much trouble, even in running shoes.

Just give yourself extra time to navigate the slippery slopes above the snowline on the shaded north side of Klahhane Ridge.

A good pair of hiking boots would reduce needless falls.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a “stay home, stay healthy” order Monday.

The order “does not prohibit people from merely going outside to enjoy a walk on a sunny spring day,” Inslee said.

So hikes are OK, as long as we avoid large groups and practice social distancing.

Lake Angeles is perched in glacier-carved cirque surrounded by towering cliffs on three sides.

It is popular year-round given its proximity to Port Angeles and rewarding scenery. Nine other hikers were encountered Sunday, all of whom had departed the lake before I arrived at 4 p.m.

The 3.5-mile trail begins near the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station and climbs 2,400 feet on a steady, moderate grade.

In about a mile the trail cross Ennis Creek and begins a long, sweeping traverse in a forest that has grown since a large fire in 1898 and provides welcome shade in the summer.

On Sunday, the trail became slushy and icy at about 3,500 feet of elevation. The path was covered in snow on the final mile to the subalpine basin.

Lake Angeles itself was blanketed by a thin layer of ice and snow that quickly broke when tested in knee-deep water.

The snow muffled the sounds of nature, producing an eerie silence that belied current events.

From the lake, it’s another 2.9 miles to the top of Switchback trail at 6,000 feet and 6.7 miles to the mile-high Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, which is now closed.

A good variation is the 12.5-mile loop past Lake Angeles to Klahhane Ridge and back down via the Heather Park Trail.

That will have to wait until the snow melts.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

A footbridge leads across upper Ennis Creek on the trail to Lake Angeles. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

A footbridge leads across upper Ennis Creek on the trail to Lake Angeles. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

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