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Took a Friday off for a little snowshoe jaunt before heading to Mammoth. This was my my second attempt to find the elusive Loch Leven Lakes. I failed again, but got quite a good workout and some nice shots as a result of getting lost.
View toward I-80 from my lunch spot. Tells the sad tale of lack of snow for the season. Note train tunnels which will make another appearance soon. Another shot of the mountains across from me.
Another shot from the top of the rocks. Not sure what direction.
After getting a bit off course, I figured it would be simple to just follow the tracks to where I crossed them originally. There were a couple tunnels to negotiate, luckily both small. Another tunnel not pictured had some giant icicles I would have liked to have captured had I not been worried about being impaled by them or getting flattened by an oncoming train.
I knew I was on the right path for at least a bit since I made it to this bridge this time.
One good thing about getting lost was I stumbled upon the South Yuba River and some nice little water flows.
Near the end, I once again made a wrong turn. I knew I needed to get to the road seen here, but there was the river in my way.
Third Attempt (3/28/04)
Well, this time, I had a good feeling as everything was going for me. I had hiked the trail in the summer so I had somewhat of a sense of the direction I needed to head and the look of the terrain. The weather was comfortable in the 50's and sunny with light wind. The snow was nicely packed from weeks of warm weather and little snow making for easier travel and following of previous tracks. And most importantly, I was fully equipped this time with ski poles, a 100 oz. cache of water, a giant sandwich made from Safeway BBQ chicken, a Fast Break candy bar, and a tangelo. The ski poles were key as it would have been impossible without them to have not slid down the hill many times and in the past I haven't used them.
The hike in general isn't very long as can be seen in this informational pdf of the Loch Leven Lakes Trail. I made it to the 2nd lake which I at first bypassed without noticing it. But the elevation gain is fairly substantial in the snow. It took about 4.5 hours including stopping for lunch and pictures.
Here's a shot giving an idea of the steepness as I emerged from the forest during the climb. But there still was a bit more to go.
After trekking a while, I figured I missed the lakes and had lunch here on a rock. The sun was blazing which made for some bad pictures unfortunately. Here I am making use of my timer function, before realizing I needed to take off the snowshoes to be able to make the quick dash to get in the photo. Here's me crouching awkwardly to get in a shot facing the other direction.
On the return, I noticed another set of tracks that I decided to follow and hit gold finding the 2nd lake which I nearly passed without recognizing. I figured it would have had water in it, especially given the warm weather of late. Unfortunately, I only took one shot and it wasn't that good.
Going down, though tricky due to the steepness, was a dream compared to going up. In the midst of the return, I found a perfect mound of snow to put the camera for this self-grandizing pose. It wasn't that cold, but I forgot my hat and the sun was beastly and burning my forehead (which sunblock could not be applied to due to blinding of the eyes should it run). The ski hat also served to stop the sweat that kept rolling in my eyes. Not to get too graphic, but I set a personal record for sweating on this trek. I actually had noticeable salt accumulation on my face.
A shot looking up at the trail on the way back down. Looking up at the imposing grade, I almost couldn't imagine how I had earlier done that. Another.
Railroad tracks looking right on the way back. Looking left.
Nice babbling brook by this small bridge completely snow covered.
In last decent before the parking lot, a look back at the train tunnels (right-center of photo) I had to go through when I went the wrong way the previous year shows how far off I was. A far off view of what I went up, and a close up of the same shot.
Thanks to this guy whose tracks I followed.
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