A walk in the woods...

posted May 26, 2015, 8:18 AM by Paul Wagner   [ updated May 29, 2015, 9:10 AM ]
This past weekend, we were once again reminded that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters. 

It all began as we spent the weekend at our cabin near Twain Harte.  We had considered a backpacking trip, but the weather looked a little rough, so we opted for a quiet weekend at the cabin, and maybe a little adventure by car.  That turned out to be a good decision, as Saturday night we saw thunder, lightning and hail pelt our part of the Sierra around dinner time.  As we drove up Highway 108 the next morning, there was ice and hail alongside the road in many spots. 

So the next day we decided on a car adventure, instead of a hike.  For years we have meant to visit the Bennett Juniper, the largest juniper in the Sierra, which stands near a fire road in the Emigrant Wilderness.  So we drove up to the Summit Ranger Station to confirm the location, and were told that the road was closed to protect a small frog that lays its eggs in puddles of water.

It turns out that the best puddles are in the middle of the road.
And this wall of moss  ©http://ba​ckpackthes​ierra.com

OK.  Instead, we suggested Waterhouse Lake, another day hike that we had always planned on taking.

Same problem:  same frogs, same puddles. 

A third option, a pair of lakes near Sonora Pass, would be snowy and icy after the storm, so we asked for suggestions from the rangers.  And one of them suggested a hike to Burgson Lake, about a half-mile off trail from the route to Wheat's Meadow. A quick trip into Carson-Iceberg Wilderness over Memorial Day...this is the first small lake on the trail to Wheat's Meadow  ©http://ba​ckpackthes​ierra.com

Great!  Off we went.  At this point, we should point out that we were not really prepared for a hike.  We didn't have any raingear, because we were planning to spend most of the day in the car.  And while we had a nice lunch, we didn't have much more than a local road map, and a book of mini-topo maps from the ranger station. 

Nevertheless, we headed out on the hike.  And it was lovely.

We saw more snow plants than we have ever seen before, and then forded three streams that required removing our boots and wading. The forest was lush and damp from the rains, and yet we saw only a few mosquitoes. And there were some nice views on the trail of the volcanic Dardanelles and the crest of the Sierra to the east.  There were snowplants EVERYWHERE on this trail.   ©http://ba​ckpackthes​ierra.com

The only problem was the ducked route to Burgson Lake. We followed it to what appeared to be the very edge of the canyon over Donnell Reservoir, and yet we didn't see any lake. Hmm. We poked around a bit, but the sky was threatening, and we had no rain gear. We decided to sit down and eat our lunch on a beautiful granite bench above the canyon. And as we ate we decided that the views and the hike were well worth our time and effort, even without the lake. 

When we got back home, we checked out a larger topo. We had stopped about 100 yards short of the lake. Which gives us a reason to go back and enjoy this lovely hike.