|Loch Leven Lakes Trail
Big Bend, Tahoe NF
May 14, 2007
Over the years, I have made a pilgrimage to Loch Leven Lakes at least a dozen
times. Knowing that it might be a bit early in the season for this hike, I
seem determined to check it out anyway. On my group's previous visit here
in the month of May, we did not make it to the lakes; instead, we ended up
sliding down much of the hill on the snow. Although the lakes themselves
and their environs invariably are
snow-free by this time, this trail is
on a north-facing slope where the snow lingers. Mine is the only
car in the parking lot.
The first pond
Although the early going is promising, the snow-covered hill in the background is ominous. Surely enough, just after crossing the creek on the fancy footbridge, a snow bank partially blocks the path.
Preview of coming attractions
At the steepest, roughest part of the entire route, a pair of young hikers is resting. The trail is totally blocked by snow here. I find a way to scramble around the blockage; but I cannot locate the trail on the other side. The numerous puddles and snow banks are not helpful.
Obstacles to the route
The two other hikers consult a GPS device, then disappear. Eventually, I give up on a continuation toward the lakes. Several times already, one foot or the other has plunged three feet through the snow into a manzanita bush. While not particularly dangerous, this process is tiresome and irritating. A useful shortcut down a big snow bank accesses a point for reconnecting with the return trail.
An easier way down the hill
Down past the long but shady switchbacks, the snow is gone again. Patches of phlox are scattered about, supplying what sometimes is the only color on the hillside. As that is a common scenario in the Sierra, phlox ranks among my most favorite flowers for that reason.
A patch of Spreading Phlox
Having crossed back over the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, I stop to enjoy the cascades just below the footbridge.
Plunging toward the South Yuba
The creek seems more colorful than usual today. Is this a wintertime effect, or have these bright colors always been there?
A refreshing look
§: Back at the trailhead, my car is alone; the other couple apparently returned even earlier. So much for GPS navigation! Although no lakes were reached today, I am not disappointed. The purpose of this walk was to gain some
conditioning, and I certainly did that. Now, it's off to the
Rainbow Lodge just around the corner, for some much-needed