Ensconced in the granite bowl of a spectacular gorge, Helms Lake is an aqueous repository of visually stunning scenery. The soaring tarn lies tacitly above tree line but still far below a fortress of towering peaks.
The difficult journey to this remarkable, alpine refuge begins in a forest of lodgepole pine and progresses through tremendous groves of radiant aspen. A cascade of icy snowmelt traces the trail and the comforting sound of rushing water placates the soul.
It’s a dim aurora as the morning light yearns to infiltrate the dense interior of the primeval wilderness. The diverse geography is a succession of tiered plateaus creating a grand staircase that culminates in a basin of otherworldly beauty.
While straining upward through different life zones, the tenacious trees gradually become more stunted and twisted before suddenly giving way to a glorious tundra. A maze of willows insulates the remote reservoir, creating a buffer between a rugged world and smooth water.
Piercing the placid surface, a cavalcade of large boulders is strewn haphazardly within the pond’s oval border. The cold water is clear like glass as it perfectly reflects the gathering clouds, painting the picture of an approaching storm.
During the descent, light rain comes down as well - offering some relief from the unusually unbearable heat in the high country. Following a brisk creek out of the big valley, numerous, single-log bridges are perilous crossings bringing us closer to home.
Back in the bottomlands, it’s a paradise for wildlife because of the vast bounty of food, water and shelter. Bighorn sheep graze across the lower meadows, red squirrels dominate the woodland, moose tread through the marsh and marmots scurry near rocky outcrops.
The unforgettable expedition was a strenuous trek that pushed personal stamina to its maximum limit. It was worth the colossal effort as Helm’s Lake sits in an isolated abyss shielded by sawtooth peaks while confirming faith in the healing power of pristine nature.
|Moose in the marsh|
|Paradise for wildlife|
|Morning light yearns to infiltrate|
|Cascade of snowmelt|
|An alpine refuge|
|A big valley|
|A brisk creek|
|A rugged world|
|A strenuous trek|
|A maze of willows|
|Ensconced in a granite bowl|
|A soaring tarn|
|The cold water is clear|
|Cavalcade of boulders|
|An isolated abyss|