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kitya
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PostMon Jun 22, 2020 7:39 pm 
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I have first seen Klonaqua lakes from the summit of Granite mountain back in 2013 and since than I had a mental note to visit them.

I know that Icicle creek area is probably the busiest hiking area in Cascades, but every year it seems to get busier. This time it was particularly full: the whole Icicle creek road looks like mostly a line of cars everywhere. All campsites are full and people are camping both in developed campsites and all along the road. Even trailheads I have not seen other cars before in previous years (like Chatter Creek TH) appear full and overflowing now. Well, nice to see people enjoying nature, nothing bad with that.

I started from the end of Icicle creek road on Sunday morning. It rained heavily the night before and the whole forest was pleasantly wet. I also got completely drained soon and it was  a great preparation for many creek fords that would come soon. Every creek is raging and deep this time of year and it is nice to be wet and not care anymore. I just walked across one creek after another, sometimes knee deep. Interestingly for 22+ miles to the lakes and around them and back I never met any single person. Which is shocking considering the number of cars and people camping. Where do they all go? I have no answer to that.

Icicle creek trail, French creek trail and Klonaqua lake trail are all in great condition. Almost no blowdowns. Great easy walking. However it is as long as I remember it from my Bootjack-Higchair-Cradle lake loop day hike last winter (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8030722). Snow starts at about 5000ft and even than it is mostly patchy. I lost the trail after talus crossing, but it was easy to get to the lake from there anyway. At the talus crossing me and Cookie were greeted by a very serious pika.


The lower lake mostly melted out.


Soon I found the dam valve and the helipad. Lake is the reservoir.


I did 0 research preparing for this trip assuming it will be obvious. I crossed the lower lake outlet and followed the shore on the right (east) side to upper Klonaqua. Bad idea. Worst idea ever. It is super brushy, lots of side alder, lots of super dense other brush, lots of bity bugs, waterfalls, rocks and avalanche debris and hidden snow holes. If you like fighting with trees while being eaten alive by the bugs, this route is for you. Pictures look cute though, but you know how it feels.


Also taking the right shoulder means need to cross the outlets of both Lower and Upper Klonaqua lakes.

Finally we managed to get across and to Upper Klonaqua lake. It is a lot prettier. Also we found some fresh bear tracks in the snow.


On the way back we took the narrow ridge between lower Klonaqua lake and Bob's lake. This is the right way to go and super easy. There is also a view of Bob's lake from above.


I heard Klonaqua lakes get lots of trash in summer, but i couldn't see anything particularly bad now. I only found one old beer can (and took it out) and  one campfire ring with burned wood (I destroyed it as much as I could).

On my way back I stumbled upon giant morel.


But even better in lower dark dark forest we met the snowshoe hare in summer coat. Wow, they are true masters of disguise. If not for the huge white back paws, I would have totally walked past her. They also move so funny - it appears when they jump that their butt jumps higher than their head and it looks like they roll around the terrain, but they do it fast. Sadly my camera was not to the task, but whatever, better than nothing - ghost bunny.


This winter I was lucky to see snowshoe hare in winter coat too - http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8031353
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Downhill
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PostMon Jun 22, 2020 7:56 pm 
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Another awesome trip report Kitya!  Thanks so much for sharing your story and amazing pics.  I have been planning to use that route as an exit strategy for a trip this summer, so knowing that the trail is in good shape, even this early in the year, is great news to me - one less variable!

Looking forward to more of your great posts!
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kitya
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PostMon Jun 22, 2020 8:11 pm 
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Downhill wrote:
I have been planning to use that route as an exit strategy for a trip this summer, so knowing that the trail is in good shape, even this early in the year, is great news to me - one less variable!

Curious what great trip are you planning Downhill? I hope you will post trip report too smile.gif
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Downhill
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PostMon Jun 22, 2020 8:28 pm 
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Yes - I will definitely post a TR for this trip if I succeed.

By the way - about the snowshoe hares, I am so glad you posted your pics from this trip and last winter.  I have seen lynx in the Icicle drainage (as well as many snowshoe hares).  I was told that lynx are not known to be this far south in the Cascades, so my sightings have raised some doubts among others (I'm not the only resident who reports seeing lynx).  The preferred diet of the lynx, I have been informed, is the snowshoe hare - so confirming that the lynx's primary food source is prevalent in the area is a positive indicator, at least to me, that lynx are likely to be around too.
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cascadetraverser
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PostTue Jun 23, 2020 6:50 am 
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Nice report; I was up there last September. I didn`t try the counterclockwise route to the upper lake fortunately!  And, I should add, if you think the upper lake is prettier than the lower this time of year, go back in fall when the lower`s lake level drops...It`s really, really ugly.  It was a rainy weekend back then and I didn`t see another soul either.  Pretty cool place.  Thanks for the great TR!
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kitya
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PostTue Jun 23, 2020 7:43 pm 
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cascadetraverser wrote:
Nice report; I was up there last September. I didn`t try the counterclockwise route to the upper lake fortunately!  And, I should add, if you think the upper lake is prettier than the lower this time of year, go back in fall when the lower`s lake level drops...It`s really, really ugly.  It was a rainy weekend back then and I didn`t see another soul either.  Pretty cool place.  Thanks for the great TR!

You are lucky not to be as stupid as me and not to try the counterclockwise route. This is what I did. It felt like the right hand side of the lake took the same amount of time and effort as the whole trail prior to that, but i was stubborn and I wanted to know if it ever gets better. It didn't smile.gif


Reading about the reservoirs I since learned that there are immediate plans to drill hole in the upper Klonaqua lake to drain it into lower Klonaqua lake. If I understand correctly, this means that in late summer upper lake will also get 'reservoir ring' and will be ugly too. Also waterfalls between lakes will be gone frown.gif(( Feels very sad.
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 2:48 pm 
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kitya wrote:
Reading about the reservoirs I since learned that there are immediate plans to drill hole in the upper Klonaqua lake to drain it into lower Klonaqua lake. If I understand correctly, this means that in late summer upper lake will also get 'reservoir ring' and will be ugly too. Also waterfalls between lakes will be gone frown.gif(( Feels very sad.

Even sadder is that we (WA taxpayers) are paying for it.

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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 2:58 pm 
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Ah lovely. These are on my 'lake bagging list' biggrin.gif (as in, they are in the ALW and I haven't visited yet)
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kitya
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 3:03 pm 
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CC wrote:
Even sadder is that we (WA taxpayers) are paying for it.

We are? I was not aware of that. I thought Peshastin Irrigation district pays (so only water users in the area). Still sad regardless frown.gif

Bluebird wrote:
Ah lovely. These are on my 'lake bagging list' biggrin.gif (as in, they are in the ALW and I haven't visited yet)

You should go. It is kind of a long drive and a long hike (23+ miles for me) and mostly boring and flat, so I was putting it back for a long time. But the upper lake is really pretty and you should visit before they start draining it frown.gif Also you can probably combine with French Ridge, if you feel like you need more adventure!
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 3:51 pm 
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kitya wrote:
CC wrote:
Even sadder is that we (WA taxpayers) are paying for it.

We are? I was not aware of that. I thought Peshastin Irrigation district pays (so only water users in the area). Still sad regardless frown.gif

As I understand, the dams on all the alpine lakes in the Icicle-Peshastin Irrigation District pre-date the enactment of the Wilderness Act and are therefore allowed even though some are now surrounded by wilderness areas. My guess is there are some state general funds allocated for maintenance of these dams so in a sense, we all do pay for it. One use of this water is to grow fruit in the Leavenworth to Wenatchee area. The alternative is to get all our apples, pears, and cherries from Chile and New Zealand, and let them dam their rivers and lakes.
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kitya
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 4:11 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
As I understand, the dams on all the alpine lakes in the Icicle-Peshastin Irrigation District pre-date the enactment of the Wilderness Act and are therefore allowed even though some are now surrounded by wilderness areas. My guess is there are some state general funds allocated for maintenance of these dams so in a sense, we all do pay for it. One use of this water is to grow fruit in the Leavenworth to Wenatchee area. The alternative is to get all our apples, pears, and cherries from Chile and New Zealand, and let them dam their rivers and lakes.

Well, most of our fruit actually comes from columbia basin area now (and Columbia river has lots of dams already, but is not in a wilderness). If I read the data correctly, while it is true that at the time of establishment most of water use in Icicle-Peashastin irrigation district was for fruit growing, it is not so anymore and currently two biggest users are
- leavenworth fish hatchery
- residential

also what i'm specifically sad about is not maintenance of existing dams, but plans to increase them, which is not the same as maintenance. the 2025 plan is, for example, calling for both raising Eightmile dam by a few feet and building a tunnel to drain upper Klonaqua into lower, this is not maintenance, this is expansion.

Getting all our fruit from New Zealand and Chile is not the only alternative, obviously, either. We can do a lot with less water. Levenworth Hatchery is very old and is known to waste lots of water, upgrading it to state of art technology might be cheaper than building new dams and save water instead of capturing new water. Residential use is extremely wasteful too and can be reduced a lot too with technology and planting native prairies instead of lawns. Finally agriculture can also grow more with less water by switching irrigation methods and growing less water hungry crops too.
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altasnob
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 5:47 pm 
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Info from other threads on this subject:

"My older version of ""100 Hikes"" for the ALW says that the lower lake was once dammed. Well, it still is. Once a year a helicopter from some Irrigation District lands on the helipad at the lake's outlet and 5 folks jump out, 4 of them to turn an ancient valve to drain the lake even further. We happened to be there just the once a year they happen to fly in. Bizarre. Apparently, before ALW existed, both the Klonaqua lakes were privately owned as reservoirs for orchards and is under some special leasing agreement with the government to maintain the dam and water usage there. Hence, the previous report's mentioning of the lake being ""damage goods"". Someone also apparently drilled a hole all the way under the lower lake to the upper lake to facilitate faster draining of the upper lake. It's hard to consider it wilderness in my book at that point but I'd hate to see what the place might look like had the ALW never come into existence. If I ever visit here again I might try to find out exactly where this helicopter comes from to time my trip apart from theirs."

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8006259&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=irrigation+district+leavenworth

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8020360&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=irrigation+district+leavenworth

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8026710&start=75&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=
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kitya
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 7:00 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
Someone also apparently drilled a hole all the way under the lower lake to the upper lake to facilitate faster draining of the upper lake.

This part I believe is not true. This doesn't exist yet. Yes, while both Upper and Lower Klonaqua used to be privately owned before ALW existed, only Lower Klonaqua was "improved", Upper Klonaqua is still as of now is in natural state. You can clearly read it from environmental impact statement by WA department of Ecology:

http://www.co.chelan.wa.us/files/natural-resources/documents/Planning/icicle_work_group/Environmental%20Review%20Page/Final%20PEIS/FPEIS%20CH%203.pdf

"Upper and Lower Klonaqua LakeINFRASTRUCTURE DESCRIPTIONUpper and Lower Klonaqua Lake are the second most hydrologically distant lakes and include both an upper and lower lake (two lakes total); however, only one lake (Lower Klonaqua) has been improved to allow for active storage / release of waterwithout pumping. Permanent man-made improvements were constructed atLowerKlonaqua in the 1920s and 1930s with the goal of impounding approximately2,500 acre-feet of water by IID. The purpose of stored water is forseasonal release into French Creek / Icicle Creek (conveyance purposes)and recapture similar to release from Square Lake. Infrastructure at the lake consists of an earthen and rock-masonrydam structure and spillway thathas artificially raised the maximum water surface elevation of the lake to approximately 5,094feetwith an operational range of 28 feet. The dam itself is approximately 10to 12feet wide at the damcrest. Mechanical outlet controlling works were also installed as part of the original construction andconsist of a 30-inch diameter cast iron slidegate with above-grade mechanized handwheel actuator positioned in a vertical gate shaft accessible from the surface. As-built drawings indicate the outlet works tunnel was constructed as a combination of blasting and cut / cover piping.Based on LiDAR survey and field observations, the improvements allow for an active storage volume of approximately 1,690 acre-feet. Other man-made improvements include approximately 60 feet of constructed channel that confluences with the natural channel approximately 200 feet downstream of the lake (spillway). The existing outlet tunnel has partially collapsed and is due for maintenance; however, storage release flows of up to 25 cfs6have been measured as recently as July 2016 despite apparent flow obstructions. OPERATIONKlonaqua Lake is one of the four storage sites in the Alpine Lakes Area managed by IPID. During an average water year, only one or two of the IPID-managed lakes is actively managed to increase late summer releases to Icicle Creek. Because Klonaqua Lake (Lower) is more remote and difficult to access, it is operated less frequently than Colchuck and Eightmile Lakes.During the years when Klonaqua Lake is actively managed, IPID personnel hike more than 10 miles (one way) to the Lower Klonaqua Lake to open thegate in July. IPID personnel return to close the gate in late September or October when the lake is drawn down and the irrigation season is over."

So while historically irrigation district used to have water rights for Upper Klonaqua it never actually stored water or used water from Upper Klonaqua, so Upper Klonaqua is definitely not a "damaged good" as of right now. Unfortunately (and this is where confusion comes from) is that irrigation district submitted a proposal to actually drill (blast) a tunnel from upper Klonaqua lake to Lower Klonaqua lake to allow them to use both lakes for water storage. As of now this is not yet done, but is a proposal under "Icicle Water Strategy". It is clearly NOT a repair of existing dam, but completely new construction and new environmental alteration of something already inside the wilderness and not yet altered before.
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 8:37 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
My guess is there are some state general funds allocated for maintenance of these dams so in a sense, we all do pay for it. One use of this water is to grow fruit in the Leavenworth to Wenatchee area.

Well you can read all about it in the links you and Kitya have posted: it's not for maintenance, of which the Icicle/Peshastin and Cascade Orchard have done very little over the years. The state (and PUDs with dams on Columbia, as mitigation) are paying for upgrading storage in the ALW lakes.  There was an item in this years capital budget for part of it, don't remember amount.  Of course government subsidization of agriculture and other industries in the west is nothing new, it's how the west was won, see, e.g. Richard White's "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own."  It's the fact that we are subsidizing the lack of efficiency of the orchards (e.g. Israeli orchardists grow the same crops with about 1/3 of the water per lb of fruit as the local orchardists), and the large portion of use  for residential lawn watering in a semi-desert/desert environment, that bugs me.

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altasnob
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 10:51 pm 
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kitya is right, no tunnel between the two lakes yet. But it doesn't appear that this project is imminent. From the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Icicle Creek Water
Resource Management Strategy
, January 3, 2019, page 2-116:

"Any of the above [lake connecting] options would require detailed feasibility studies, and design and
permitting analyses."

"This project is at the conceptual stages and no cost estimates have been developed."

From page 4-59:

"The high lake level in Upper Klonaqua Lake would not change. The lake would still refill
and outlet naturally through an existing channel to Lower Klonaqua Lake during most of
the year. However, the new facilities would allow for the lake to be drawn down an
additional 20 to 50 feet and allow for access to an additional 1,146 to 2,448 acre-feet of
storage. The draw down would likely occur over a couple of months in the late summer."

So waterfalls between the two lakes would still be present, at least for the spring runoff.

Here's a map of the proposal:


If you are interesting in stopping a potential Upper Klonaqua Lake draining project, you should contact this advocacy group so you are aware of the next public comment period if/when a permit application is filed:

http://www.alpinelakes.org/
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