We had planned that our Friday hike would be one of the more strenuous hikes on this vacation. But, not all eight mile hikes are created equal! Wednesday’s hike to Loch Leven was an eight mile hike that wiped us all out. Today’s hike was also eight miles but it was a breeze! So what’s the difference? It is all in the vertical gain. Wednesday’s hike had a vertical gain of 1710’ today’s hike was a “mere” 800’.
The boys and I had taken this hike once before when we spent a summer with my sister and her family. We remembered it as a moderate hike with a fantastic destination lake. This hike is located in the Carson range which is my all-time favorite area of the Sierras. If I could only hike one area up here, this would be it.
The Emigrant Lake Trail begins at Caples Lake, a man-made reservoir that hosts a small resort. It is a favorite of local fishermen. For the first two miles of the hike you traverse the shoreline of this lake.
We started off at a pretty fast clip. I kept thinking, "But wait, I need to take photos!" I ended up taking this photo on the run, hense the blur.
Once we broke free of the forest the guys slowed down a bit and I was able to get a couple of shots of Lake Caples' shoreline.
At 1.3 miles from the trailhead you reach a juncture where you can either go to Emigrant Lake or to Emigrant Peak. I'm a "lake hiker" not a "summit hiker." Wide open vistas are fine as far as they go but as far as I'm concerned it you aren't "rewarded" with a lake at the end of your hike you might as well not make the effort!
Which way should we go? Mario's sense of direction never fails! HA!
The trail is a fun one. After walking along the lake for much of the way you transition to walking along a stream that feeds that big ole lake. The sound of running water is a constant companion. The one downside to all that water is the fact that this is a VERY "buggy" walk! Insect spray is an absolute imperative if you don't want to get eaten alive.
Before we knew it we had reached our destination. The last time we had hiked to this lake it was later in the season but that winter had been much more snow-heavy than this past winter. I remembered this lake being shrouded in banks of snow with tiny rivlets of water cutting a course through the snow. This time around everything was much more green with just patches of snow found on the far side of the lake.
As has become our tradition we stopped and had lunch once we reached our destination.
You may notice that Tramp is missing from these shots. He was still limping a bit so we decided to leave him at home. I missed having his sweet companionship. There is something about the loyal devotion of a good dog that just makes every good thing just a little bit better.
Even though the sun is shining in these photos it did get cold! The elevation at this lake is appoximately 9020' and when the wind comes whipping down that snow covered scree and across the lake it does make you shiver. To warm up I took a walk along the lake while the boys finished up their lunch.
The cold got to all of us and so we soon decided to head on back. I always leave these beautiful places with reluctance. I wish I could capture the sounds...and the smell...the crisp, green, snow-tinged purity of these mountain oases. It stirs me in ways that I can't even put words to. It speaks of God's beauty and hints at His holiness. It stirs my soul until it fairly overflows with wordless worship for creator God who "sheds his grace on thee!"
The walk back to the trailhead is an easy one and I found my mind wandering; thinking about some of the things you "learn" when you hike the Sierras. Here, in no particular order are a few of the things I came up with:
1. Sometimes, the harder the trail the more glorious is God's revelation of grace when you reach your destination.
2. Sometimes, even when the trail isn't so hard, God still showers you with the gift of His grace.
3. In either case, the glory of His grace displayed in the gift of creation has the power to nourish your soul.
4. When your chest is tight, you can still push on, when your thighs burn, you can still push on, when your calfs cramp, you can still push on, BUT, when your feet hurt you are pretty much done for! Take care of your feet!
5. Hiking is better when shared with people you love.
6. Any good hike is made better if there is laughter along the way and you have the companionship of a good dog.
7. Physical exhaustion makes you vulnerable to sin. If ever there is an emotional melt-down or a, "you're getting on my nerves" moment on the trail it inevitably happens steps away from the summit or moments before you realize you are almost back at the car!
8. A good hike is not just the destination; it is the journey along the way.
9. The hike back, even if it is all downhill and takes only half the time, still SEEMS like it is twice as long as the hike out.
10. The best hikes ALWAYS end with a reward trip to Sno-flake for an ice cream shake and onion rings!
Saturday we are going sightseeing. Until then, be well!