Ling Lake trail report. 25 km's, 1070m vert.
Today, we successfully made it to the elusive, beautiful Ling Lake, Chwk, .... after several recons and one failed attempt last Nov where we made it halfway which was the farthest yet.
What a beauty!! We parked the 4Runner just past the Foley fsr/Ling Lake junction where there is just enough room for one vehicle to park after a 3 point turn. The first 7 km is on old FSR, which has grown in so much more again this year compared to last November’s condition, and whoever has attempted to clear some of it just threw the cuttings onto the path rather than off to the side, so it makes for a good obstacle course. Shortly in, there’s a lovely waterfall and a couple small stream crossings along with old sturdy, concrete bridges still very intact. This time, the beaver dam crossing the trail was low so quite a bit easier to get past. To do so, we stayed left along the side of it, and across as we walked the walls of these large masterpieces. No wet feet this time of year!
The descent from the FSR from where the Ling Lake trail really begins, at 7 km into our hike, was horrific, but we discovered that cutting down early through the first little boulder field is best. There’s no good way to sugarcoat the trail conditions whatsoever. The trail hasn’t been maintained for a very long time and is sadly in disrepair. So much deadfall and blowdown to navigate, and due to no foot traffic the footbed of the trail is quickly disappearing with the seasons. From there, it’s mostly hellish. Every thorn jungle section is unmarked and you’re just wandering around following gps accuracy. There’s various old flagging tape where the trail is obvious but nowhere when you need it! The trail was harder to follow this time than the last, but is still in passable shape.
The rope sections were steep but the blue and black ropes were helpful. Farther along just before the lake there is a thinner white rope to hang onto but silly me didn’t wait for it while my two friends were utilizing it. Needless to say, I slid down a couple feet, landed on my side and was high-centered high above a creekbed…until I moved…I then slid another meter but luckily the one and only tree between me and the creekbed below stopped me in the crotch and saved the day. Yikes! Although it’s a thin rope, it did do the trick getting us across safely.
We made it to the lake in 5 hrs, took 20 minutes to refill our water, swim, and soak in the views before the trek back. On the way back from the lake the trail was a bit more obvious when you were able to spot random flagging, otherwise it was still gps routefinding on Gaia.
Overall, the thorns and devil’s club are extreme. The giant thorn field was twice as bad as last time…and it was very bad last time! So bad in fact that today we scrambled down to Foley creek and followed it for a good km instead which was super fun, highly recommended!
Our return route, if you want GPX, was much more accurate than our way in and we did so in 3.5 hrs for a 9 hr day. It would be great to get a team together of strong trail builders to clear, reflag, and put up many more orange reflective markers to mark the route. The lake is truly a beauty and it needs more traffic to keep the trail alive!