It's not a long hike, around 2.5 miles round trip but don't let that fool you, it's basically straight up the mountain and then straight back down again! For a short while you follow a trail along the lake side before turning off and climbing steeply through beautiful pine trees. Eventually (after many stops in our case) you come to a rocky, lava flow meadow. There are lots of wildflowers and it is very pretty. Here the footing changes from packed forest floor to loose gravelly rocks and it generally becomes more difficult.
This was our first view from the plateau which is almost at the top but not quite. We kayak on those two lakes you can see in the distance. My hiking book had warned us that Inspiration Point is windswept and can be cold but today it was still, not the slightest breeze, warm and humid. The clouds were beginning to thicken and darken, we had gone early in the day because thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. After getting our breath back we pressed on to the higher part of the ridge. Which was where it really got tough going....
That's the trail on the very right of the photo and it was a mixture of ancient lamar lava and loose rocks, impossible to tell apart when walking. It was a little scary with the steep drop off to the side. We scrambled, sometimes moving like crabs, using our hands to help and eventually we made it to the top without incident. "Insane" is the word my daughter used.
Despite all this, it was totally worth it. The views were awesome, we'd climbed to about 8000feet from Lake Alpine which is at about 7300feet and the altitude had definitely made the climb harder.
For us, the important thing was the realization of a personal goal. It was a tough climb in places and we were sore afterwards, our hands chewed up from gaining handholds on the sharp lava rocks, our bottoms a little sore from the times we had to sit to scoot down a section and, by the time we got back down to the lake our thighs and calves were burning.
But what a hike.