I had had a very busy week at work. As the week progressed, the desire to get out into the mountains grew into a full-blown need.
Though I often like "mega" day hikes of 20 miles or so, the hectic work week subdued me. I wanted to hike about half that, and to find a trail closer to home than my usual destination, Yosemite. I dug out my 16 year old copy of Sierra North (Wilderness Press), and shopped for a trail, finally deciding on the trail from Silver Lake to Scout Carson Lake.
- Backpack or day hike
- 11 mile round trip
- 2,000' elevation (a gradual climb)
- Horse Canyon Trailhead (53 miles east of Jackson on Hwy 88/ .8 mile past Silver Lake. If the trailhead parking is full, park in the secondary parking 100 yards closer to Silver Lake). Permits are required for backpacking.
But I reigned in my misconception and started paying more attention to the things that were at hand. Soon I spotted a quick flash of brilliant yellow and orange. I've seen Western Tanagers on only a few occasions, and I always get a thrill...I consider them to be one of the most attractive birds in the sierra.
I enjoy examining rocks, lichen, and to a lesser extent, flowers. This hike satisfied all of these interests. I was frequently in company of two very different types of rock: jagged lava and smooth, glacially polished granite. The granite made me feel "at home", as that is the predominate rock-type in Yosemite, where I do most of my hiking.
The granite boulder in the third picture from the top was captivating. I named it "The Thing" after the comic book hero of the same name. Next week I'll include a close-up of it and speculate how it formed; I say speculate because I am no expert. I will welcome input from others who know a little or a lot about geology. Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to find a definitive answer by next week.
Ascending from the forest you traverse an open hillside and cross several small creeks. The flower display is quite impressive: Indian Paintbrush, lupine, columbine, daisies, mule's ear, snow plant, pussypaws, larkspur and others grace the hillside. The setting is fantastic: an array of delicate and colorful flowers dance merrily in the breeze, back-dropped by immovable, dark, and grotesque volcanic rock.
After 5 miles we come to a junction. Scout Carson Lake is 1/2 mile away, a number of campsites dotting the trail on the way. We go through forest, a small wet meadow and more forest before reaching the lake. I was a little surprised at the size of the lake. I think it would be more appropriate to call it Scout Carson Pond.
I sat by the lake and enjoyed my lunch, observing the birds and dragonflies while I ate. When I was ready I headed back refreshed, and glad that I had only 1 1/2 hour drive to get home.