Day 2: Pharaoh Creek Campground to Egypt Lake Campground, 8.7 km, 407 m Elevation Gain, 307 m Elevation Loss, 2 hrs 56 minutes.
The plan today was to hike to Egypt Lake CG with a side trip to Pharaoh Lake and Black Rock Lake. It is only about 5 km from Pharaoh Creek CG to Egypt Lake CG. I decided to visit the two lakes prior to arriving at Egypt Lake CG to minimize the distance that Volcano had to walk. It would meant a stiff climb for me with a full pack but I was saving Volcano for the next two days, which would be the toughest.
We got out of the tent at 7:30 am. A light rain overnight had left everything wet and soggy. We headed over to the bear lockers to retrieve our food. I put the water on for my coffee and fed Volcano. The picnic table was wet, making breakfast a stand up affair.
We were up early, and since we did not have a big day planned I took the opportunity to try and dry out the condensation that had settled on the inside of the tent. One challenge with a single walled tent is that condensation will build up on the inside and you will want to get the tent dry at some point. Many hikers pull their tent out at lunch time when it is warmer and dry the tent.
I got tired of waiting for the tent to completely dry so I packed up and we hit the trail just as the sun was coming over the horizon at 9:15 am; no one else in the campground had stirred.
The trail rose an easy 90 m over 4.4 km to the junction with the trails to access Lake Pharaoh and Black Rock Lake. It was a pleasant way to start the morning. Volcano was fresh and eager as we got started.
I am always scanning the trail for signs of animal activity–ok, mostly bears. The only evidence of animals I saw on this day was elk tracks in the mud.
The trail continued to weave in and out of the trees on east side of Pharaoh Creek. We crossed the creek after about 3.5 km and the views opened up to a low range of mountains to our east which topped out at Healy Pass Peak.
We crossed over a small bridge after about 10 minutes and came to the junction with the trail to the lakes above us. We had covered the 4.5 km from the campground in 1hr 10 min.
The trail quickly headed up, gaining 125 m in 0.6 km. I did meet people who had visited the lakes but you could tell from condition of the trail that it was not well traveled. The trail did not unitize switchbacks just went straight up. Once we the trail got steep Volcano fell behind and I took the lead. It took about 20 minutes to arrive at Pharaoh Lake.
We scrambled over some rockfall from Pharaoh Peak and found a flat place to have a snack and enjoy the view. Then we headed off to explore Black Rock Lake.
The old sign had said it was 3/4 of a mile to Black Rock Lake but my Viewranger app said just a shade over 1 km, which is pretty close. Black Rock Lake sits 90 m above Pharaoh Lake. The trail is well graded and it never got very steep. We scooted around the east side of Pharoah Lake and had to rock hope over a creek. It was then a nice walk through the woods before coming to the creek draining Black Rock Lake. As we followed the creek to the lake, the flower display was amazing.
According to Graeme Poole in his book “Classic Hikes of the Canadian Rockies,” the naming of the area originated when the surveyors of the 1922 Interprovincial Boundary Survey thought that Scarab Lake looked like the Egyptian beetle when viewed from above. Notable exceptions are Black Rock Lake, Haiduk Lake and Whistling Pass. Black Rock Lake is named for the dark lichen that covers the cliffs. Haiduk is Polish word for describing someone from the forest and later expanded to describe irregular infantry formed from peasants. Whistling Pass is named for the loud warnings emitted by the resident marmots.
We hung around only for a few minutes at Black Rock Lake before heading back to the main trail to finish our hike to Egypt Lake CG. The entire side trip took 1 hr 35 min and covered 3.7 km.
Once we were on the main trail, it was only 600 m to Egypt Lake CG, it was just after 12 pm. We came past the food area first, then to a small meadow with several campsites. Next we came to the back country shelter. The majority of the campsites where just past the shelter.
Since we had arrived very early in the day, we had a very good pick of campsites. I chose one with an amazing view of Pharaoh Peak.
I had the tent set up quickly. We then enjoyed a 2 hour mid afternoon nap while hiding from the mosquitoes. The short day made time for exploring so we headed out to check out Egypt Lake at around 2:30 pm. It is only about a 15 minutes walk to the lake. We rejoined the main trail, turned left, and followed the trail that would take us up Whispering Pass and onto Balls Pass Junction. After 0.5 km we came to a Junction for Egypt Lake. We turned left and after negotiating past a small pond we crested over a small rise to Egypt Lake, total distance was 0.85 km.
Egypt Lake is in a very pretty setting. The wind was whipping the waves around so I decided I would be coming back early in the morning to take photos.
We hung around the lake for 20 minutes before heading back to camp. Volcano took a longing look up towards Whispering Pass
Went to the food storage area at about 5 pm to start get Volcano’s dinner. It was still too early for me to eat. The water source is down at Pharaoh Creek near the Patrol Cabin. It was a bit of a walk.
On the way back to the tent, Volcano had a bowel movement. In the past I have just rolled the poo away from the trail. Leave No Trace has been updated to encourage people to carry the solid waste of their pets out of the backcountry. So I collected the poo and triple bagged it.
After a bit more relaxing at camp I thought at 6 pm that it was time for dinner. We headed back over to the food storage area. We passed by some campers who were obviously visiting from Europe. Volcano elicited many ohhs and ahhs as we passed by. There was a large family of three generations at dinner. They had two boys of about 6 and 8 years old, plus dad, uncle and grandparents. They had come from Balls Pass Junction. Not sure how far they had come or where going, but it was impressive. The people who I shared my table with had stayed at Egypt Lake CG for two days. This had allowed them to visit the lakes I had visited, plus Scarab and Mummy Lakes. I learned to be more careful with my camera at dinner. One of the people had collected water in a collapsible bucket like the one I had used in Grand Canyon in 2016. The bucket tipped flooding water across the table and soaking my camera. Luckily one of the men quickly grabbed my camera, so no harm done.
We headed back to the tent at about 7 pm. I read for a while then at 8:30 pm took Volcano for a little before-bed walk. Lights out about 9 pm. I did wake up to take photos at 11:30 pm of Pharaoh Peak.