After our experience last June, we decided to wait until at least mid-July this year to go up to South Colony lakes. We also checked the weather forecast carefully, looking for a very low POP. There was a good-looking weather window at the beginning of this week, so we decided to go for it.
I loved the new bridge just past the new upper 2WD parking area (unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of it). I also liked that the other creek crossings were low enough that you could cross on rocks on the old 4WD road. However, the approach just didn't seem the same without snow on the ground or hail pounding on our heads. Ah, well, guess that's what we get for going in July.
We camped just below the turn-off for the Needle and kept our fingers crossed that the weather would hold (hopefully, we could get up and back before the Wilderness was alerted to our presence and sent in the hail/thunder/lightening/snow/pouring rain/sleet).
The next morning was beautiful--I loved the sunrise on the Needle.
It was strange going up a snow-free Broken Hand Pass (although I definitely preferred the loose scree to the ice I had encountered in the past).
The standard route on the Needle was alot of fun--we really enjoyed the solid scrambling on the conglomerate.
The sky above was clear, although there were some low clouds in the valleys.
We could actually see the sand dunes this time.
All too soon, we finished the scrambling and reached the summit.
We hung out for a bit, enjoying the views, but didn't want to linger too long and tempt fate.
A picture from the way down:
On the way down, we followed a mystery cairn that traversed off to the east near the base of the East gully. This line took us down slightly steeper terrain, but avoided the loose trail that drops down to the bottom of the East gully.
blue = "standard" ; red = our way down ; green = downclimb from main trail
Luckily, the locals helped us find our way down:
Sitting in the cairn...
Haven't seen too many sheep this summer...
But there were plenty of them near the lakes and camp!
When we got back to our tent, we packed up under the building clouds. We then proceeded to hike out and got back to the car just as it started to rain. Well, rain is to be expected when one visits the rainforest--I was just thankful it didn't find us until we were leaving.