Once Mario got up to Tahoe I was longing to take him hiking in the El Dorado National Forest/Carson Pass area but I didn't want to make the boys take the same hike we had taken last week. So, I perused my well-worn hiking book and found a loop trail that features three high-altitude picturesque alpine lakes. This hike definitely confirmed this region in my mind as my most favorite area to hike in all of the Tahoe basin.
I think the reason that I enjoy this area so much is because God's artistry is seen in such abundant and varied ways. Because of the high altitudes the air is always so fresh with that lacing of "snow scent" that has a way of clearing the mind of troubles, casting off burdens of the heart and making your spirit feel so light it is as if your whole being can take wing.
Our hike began at Woods Lake and followed the trail up 1200 feet on the Round Top trail to Round Top Lake. The climb starts at 8200 feet and ends at over 9400 feet. All the while you are working your way up the grade you have before you the snow-clad precipices of the "Sisters" peaks. All around you are alpine meadows filled with the most amazing assortment of meadow flowers. When you reach the top you can look back and see the entire Carson Valley stretched out below while before you sits the pristine shoreline of Round Top Lake. It is just amazing!
The return loop takes you down the backside of the mountain you just climbed; down Winnemucca Lake Trail to Winnemucca Lake which is nestled in the Carson Pass. As you make your way down you can see all kinds of tiny waterfalls and streams melting off of the still thick slabs of snow and wending their way down the slopes of Round top collecting and forming Winnemucca Lake.
After resting at a beautiful little flower-filled cove along the lake we headed down the trail and had the delight of hiking through almost two miles of flower-filled hills. The Indian paint brush with its bright orange plumes was everywhere; offset by the deep purples of elephant head lupine. It delighted this flower-lovers heart!
The first part of the trail led through a switch back up the mountain. The hills were covered with a mix of white firs, western white pines and mountain hemlock.
A butterfly seemed a bit out of place but once we crested the first mountain and I saw all the flowers I realized why this little guy was here.
The first crest afforded us a view of Woods Lake
Taking a quick breather after our first climb. Don't you just love the fashion sense of my guys?
This little patch of flowers was just a "tease" to the amazing floral display that was still ahead of us.
I love the play of light in this photo.
As you work your way up the trail you come to the Lost Cabin Mine. The mine was in operation until the 1960's and produced gold, copper, silver & lead. The light was beautiful in the little clearing and gave me a perfect opportunity to take this sweet photo of Anthony. Austin on the other hand was not in a "photo taking" mood so I let him be.
The higher we got the more flowers and butterflies there were to be seen.
and the more slabs of melting snow fed into the ever increasing mountain streams
Little did we know that just around the bend of these signs we would be greeted with the most glorious sight!
This was the view that was ever before us compelling us onward and upward.
...with the occasional stop to take yet one more shot of a beautiful flower!
I wish these photos could capture the scent of the air; a combination of brisk snow, subtle sages and delicate floral perfumes. Also missing from these photos is the call of the birds that was everywhere in these meadows.
Looking back down the valley this little stream seems to tumble off the edge of the world.
The crystal clear waters and the stark, pristine shore of Round Top lake
The lake was as reflective as glass and gave us a double vision of the flowers.
Austin & Tramp play in the snow
Austin created an "ice-head" to bring home to show his cousins.
The snow melt forming streams that flowed into Lake Winnemucca
The trail winds its way down the hill giving you a beautiful over-view of the lake.
The flowing streams form these beautiful little pools all around the lake.
Lake photos of my guys.
One last photo of one of the pretty lake pools before we headed into the hills alive not with the sound of music but with the color of flowers.
I just couldn't get enough of the incredible color of this place!
...and the Lord says of His artistry. "I make no idle strokes. What I do is never haphazard. I am never merely mixing colors out of casual curiosity. My every move is one of vital creativity, and every stroke is part of the whole. Never be dismayed by apparent incongruity. Never be alarmed by a sudden dash of color seemingly out of context. Say only to your questioning heart, 'It is the Infinite wielding His brush: I know He does all things well.' And in all that I do with a free hand, without interference, I can stand back and view the work and say, 'It is good!" Francis J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved.