The morning coolness quickly departed from the land as we climbed the trail. The air was motionless and stuffy on a scorching day in August. We reached the lake in less than three hours, and as we crested the rim of trail, the lake invited us to change into bathing suits and jump in the refreshingly cool water for an invigorating swim. Ptarmigan Lake water was brisk but not icy cold. Fish jumped and a solitary duck floated in the calm pool, undisturbed by our splashing.
Dense forest surrounds the small and circular Ptarmigan Lake. The impressive views of the nearly vertical, slate-grey cliffs of White Knight Peak, at 2600 m (8,600 ft.), frame the southern lakeshore. The rugged mountain cradles the lake’s shimmering clear, deep, blue-grey water.
Ptarmigan Lake is a medium-elevation lake near Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park and makes a steep but rewarding hike. Few flowers thrive on this rocky, dry, north-facing slope along the trail.
In the heat of summer, no water flows in the barren creek channels, and even the moss-coated waterfalls typically are dry. (Water does return to these streambeds seasonally, though, and the mossy undergrowth flushes with springtime green.)