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Old 01-30-2017, 05:37 PM   #1
arvinsmee
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Conditions at Pharaoh Lake

I'm heading up the Pharaoh Lake this Friday for a two nighter and I was curious what conditions were up there. I've tried to get in touch with the rangers, but haven't been able to reach anyone (even after leaving 3 voicemails). The people at Ray Brook HQ said there was about 4" of snow on the ground where they were - does anyone know if I should expect the same for Pharaoh Lake? Also, does anyone have info on ice conditions? I understand that this winter has been pretty mild.

We're planning on parking at the Pharaoh Rd. Trail head, camping on the north end of the lake on Friday, then hiking Pharaoh Mt on Saturday, and back to the car on Sunday. We're bringing skis, snow shoes, and micro-spikes, so I think we have our bases covered, but I'd appreciate any info on the conditions or recommendations on how best to travel. Thanks!
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Old 01-31-2017, 04:04 PM   #2
Hard Scrabble
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I think that you have covered the travel requirements.
With only 4 inches of snow you should not need snowshoes , but conditions can change daily.
There should be plenty of ice on the main lake, but be careful around the outlet and around Wolf Bay at the NE end. And around Split Rock Bay.
The lower trail to the summit of Pharaoh from the lake is heavily wooded, so you should not need spikes, but you may encounter more snow as you near the summit.
Have fun!!
Jim
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Old 01-31-2017, 06:57 PM   #3
Banjoe
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As someone who took an unexpected plunge last March, I suggest being careful everywhere along the west shore. A combination of the streams coming down off the mountain and the islands over there absorbing heat do bad things to the ice. I'd walked all over the lake for three days, including the areas mentioned above and what I went through, before discovering that.
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Old 01-31-2017, 07:03 PM   #4
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As someone who took an unexpected plunge last March, I suggest being careful everywhere along the west shore. A combination of the streams coming down off the mountain and the islands over there absorbing heat do bad things to the ice. I'd walked all over the lake for three days, including the areas mentioned above and what I went through, before discovering that.
Joe, holy crap man!
Care to share more details on what happened?
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Old 01-31-2017, 08:51 PM   #5
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Um, stupidity combined with over confidence. That and frustration with an inexperienced hiker who didn't want to head back to the lake alone from Grizzle Ocean while I did a loop over Treadway I'd been planning for months. He really was nervous about being able to follow the trail so I felt obliged to stay with him. When we got back to Pharaoh I decided to get a little elevation part way up Pharaoh Mtn. to enjoy the late day sun. As I said, I'd been all over the lake but despite how warm it had gotten that day, headed straight north from the point, somewhere I'd been earlier in the trip, and despite hearing running water still took the direct line across the second bay. Sure enough, right in the middle it felt like I was drunk and the earth was tilting below me.
I went in up to my chest, turned around, took a breath and told myself even if the ice didn't hold to get back out, the peninsula was close enough I'd get to it as long as I didn't panic. It held, I got up on it and slithered like a snake to land where I undressed and stood in the sun a few minutes before crossing the bay behind lean to #6 where I found my friend sound asleep.
For the walk out the next morning he wouldn't get near me as we crossed the ice to the east side of the lake.
Told my wife I dropped the camera in the lake, didn't tell her it was in my jacket pocket at the time.
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Old 01-31-2017, 11:04 PM   #6
Pauly D.
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Originally Posted by Banjoe View Post
As someone who took an unexpected plunge last March, I suggest being careful everywhere along the west shore. A combination of the streams coming down off the mountain and the islands over there absorbing heat do bad things to the ice. I'd walked all over the lake for three days, including the areas mentioned above and what I went through, before discovering that.
Glad you made it out ok Banjoe! I was afraid of walking on any lake ice last year because of the very mild temps. This year has been a little better but not much.

Thanks for the thread. I'm heading into Pharaoh on Saturday. Nice to know what to expect.
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Old 02-01-2017, 04:38 PM   #7
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Um, stupidity combined with over confidence. That and frustration with an inexperienced hiker who didn't want to head back to the lake alone from Grizzle Ocean while I did a loop over Treadway I'd been planning for months. He really was nervous about being able to follow the trail so I felt obliged to stay with him. When we got back to Pharaoh I decided to get a little elevation part way up Pharaoh Mtn. to enjoy the late day sun. As I said, I'd been all over the lake but despite how warm it had gotten that day, headed straight north from the point, somewhere I'd been earlier in the trip, and despite hearing running water still took the direct line across the second bay. Sure enough, right in the middle it felt like I was drunk and the earth was tilting below me.
I went in up to my chest, turned around, took a breath and told myself even if the ice didn't hold to get back out, the peninsula was close enough I'd get to it as long as I didn't panic. It held, I got up on it and slithered like a snake to land where I undressed and stood in the sun a few minutes before crossing the bay behind lean to #6 where I found my friend sound asleep.
For the walk out the next morning he wouldn't get near me as we crossed the ice to the east side of the lake.
Told my wife I dropped the camera in the lake, didn't tell her it was in my jacket pocket at the time.
I think that you're talking about Wolf bay, since you came from Grizzle Ocean.
The peninsula may have been Wintergreen Point.
Warm water pours into the lake at that place on the lake as I've said before.
Jim.
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Old 02-01-2017, 04:58 PM   #8
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The peninsula may have been Wintergreen Point.
Jim.
Jim, this reminds me...
Didn't you have a different name for Wintergreen Point that you shared a while back... Arrington's Rock or something?
- Justin
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Old 02-01-2017, 05:18 PM   #9
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Jim, this reminds me...
Didn't you have a different name for Wintergreen Point that you shared a while back... Arrington's Rock or something?
- Justin
Yep! The rocky point at the mouth of Wolf Bay is Ackermans' Rock. I don't know the history, but Tex Morehouse and Ed Tuthill (the former seasonal ranger) told me of it.
I don't know who Ackerman was, but it stays in my memory.
Jim
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Old 02-01-2017, 06:10 PM   #10
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Thanks Jim.
Ackerman's Rock... I was close.
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Old 02-01-2017, 07:28 PM   #11
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It really was behind the big lean to on the point, closer to the outlet end of the lake. I'd been staying off the ice near Wolf Creek for the few days I was up there, especially on the way to and from Grizzle when I was with someone else who wasn't real comfortable on the ice or the trail.
There's the bay directly behind the big lean to, then another small peninsula with an island about 200' north. I was so determined to get part way up the mountain I steered away from the open water between the small peninsula and the island (there often is open water there), and the sound of running water coming in at the back of the bay put me on alert not to get too close to where it was coming in.
Really, the dumbest thing I've ever done, staying calm was the smartest. Interesting that they happened within seconds of each other.
I've spent quite a bit of time speculating what would have happened if I had made my trip over Treadway and come back down the trail at the north end of Pharaoh and walked between or around the islands even later in the day which was quite sunny and warm. I definitely would have been much more tired, hungry and eager to get back to the lean to. In the many years of March trips there I've noticed the ice gets bad around the islands before most other places. Maybe I would have been more cautious and avoided it, but maybe not.
Please end this thread, I barely slept last night and my heart is racing again now.
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Old 02-02-2017, 09:58 AM   #12
arvinsmee
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Originally Posted by Hard Scrabble View Post
I think that you have covered the travel requirements.
With only 4 inches of snow you should not need snowshoes , but conditions can change daily.
There should be plenty of ice on the main lake, but be careful around the outlet and around Wolf Bay at the NE end. And around Split Rock Bay.
The lower trail to the summit of Pharaoh from the lake is heavily wooded, so you should not need spikes, but you may encounter more snow as you near the summit.
Have fun!!
Jim
good to know - thanks!
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:01 AM   #13
arvinsmee
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Thanks for the thread. I'm heading into Pharaoh on Saturday. Nice to know what to expect.
We'll be camped on the north end probably, with a REI Arete ASL 3. Feel free to stop by and say hi.
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Old 02-02-2017, 02:20 PM   #14
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I was there two weekends back and it was easy going getting in. Not much snow and like others have said, they apparently have little snow now, but worth checking the NOAA snow cover map. Did venture onto the ice and it was at least 10", at least where I checked. Stayed at the roped in watch rock leanto and other than some blankets left behind by some bozo and a spruce bed he/she made and left inside, the place was clean. Also a big pile of recently killed hemlock was there... Some people. All lean tos were in nice condition regarding trash; visted all six. Still, pack was up by 5ish pounds on way out with blankets and random crap left behind.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 02-02-2017, 02:50 PM   #15
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Thanks for cleaning up!
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