July 23, 2015
I would return to the Pinto Lake Trail and attempt once more to venture along the many creeks in search of waterfalls. Once again I would aim for the Entry Creek and Lake of the Falls looking for tributaries and reminisce of waterfalls.
Unlike past trips I brought a multi-day pack to attempt overnights in the area in order to cover more grounds (read my earlier write up of O.D Falls along this hike). Over all I would achieve 12 Km from the staging area and along Entry Creek; though I would fall short of the Entry Creek Falls, I didn't come back empty handed.
There is some reprieve in knowing that there is a great number of camp sites along the Pinto Lake Trail. However they all pale in comparison to the cliff tops that the Sentinel Creek camps offer. In truth, the Sentinel Creek camp sites were (in my opinion) some of the best views in the region.
- 3-4 Front-country camp sites - at staging area
- 1 camp site - along dry creek bed at 1.7 Km
- 1 camp site - along a side trail prior to O.D Creek
- 1 camp site - on the other side of O.D Creek (2.2 Km)
- 1 camp site - declining towards Sentinel Creek
- 3-4 camp sites - above the cliff looking down on Sentinel Creek (5.5 Km)
- 6+ camp sites - at the Cline River Basin (7.5 Km)
- 1-2 camp sites - after thick bushwacking, a few kilometers into Entry Creek trail
- 3 single camp sites between the last site and the confluence of the two creeks
- 5 camp sites at the major camp area prior to the confluence
I know I've spelled out this area to be what I refer to as the quintessential remote Rocky Mountain experience, however on this trip in July I ran into a great number of people, almost as if I was in a National Park. I ran into 4 groups of people larger than 5 in their party, and at least 4 couples along my journey this day.
Safe to say this was the busiest I've encountered The Pinto Lake Trail, and with these large groups I found the reason for such large camp sites, hence my effort to provide you and your party with advanced prep.
From the staging area until prior to Sentinel Creek there is little in the way of elevation or difficulty. Once you reach Sentinel Creek the hike starts to take more of a difficult turn. As documented a couple times in the past, the sheer cliff that resides on either side of Sentinel Creek is daunting to say the least. However on this trip, unlike in the past, I over packed so that I had more time to explore the region. As a result I found out that between Sentinel Creek and when you return to Cline River (for 2 Km) you continue to experience elevation gain and decline.
Once you encounter a bathroom sign on the other side of the Cline River camp site this will mark the split in the trail for you to start Entry Creek. For the first portion of the hike you will stay on flat ground, and be forced to walk through some really thick brush. Once you hit the clearing camping area, on the other side of this brush, this will start some never ending elevation gain straight to the lake.
For the majority of the trail you will follow the creek along the trail and will be able to witness all of the small cascades down Entry Creek. These diminutive waterfalls are numerous and seem to pop up every few feet along the hike. I started counting these at first, however quickly lost count, but note these miniature waterfalls, as pictured, are no more than a meter in size at their greatest.
Being that I was alone on this hike, I opted to pull back adjacent to Purple Mountain and explore some tributary I saw on the way in. From what I could tell the waterfall I uncovered comes from an unnamed pond above on an unnamed peak, generated by an unnamed spring. It appears to me that this spring waterfall has enough current to keep flowing most of the season, if not all summer long. With a lack of naming conventions on this portion of the mountains, I opted to tentatively name this waterfall Spring Lake Falls. I'll continue research to attempt to uncover the true name of this waterfall.