Friday, April 5, 2013

Blue Lake- Lower

Nestled deep inside the Eldorado National Forest is a watery jewel. This gem has a sky-blue color, a shoreline cut into a shape that allows you to assess the entire lake at a glance, and clarity that kayakers approve of.  I can't say Blue Lake is a unique name, but it is a definitive title. One look, and you understand how it got it's name.

There are two Blue Lakes; Upper Blue Lake and Lower Blue Lake. Upper Blue Lake doesn't have the appeal that Lower Blue Lake has, so for this reason alone, most activity is on the lower gem. A road official steered us toward it one Saturday while we sat in the car awaiting the blasting of mountain rock, at the top of a pass on highway 88. Kayaks tied onto the carrier, we were eager to get them wet. When the official indicated that we could be in the water within a half an hour if interested in discovering a new lake, we were all ears.

This outstanding lake in Northern California is approximately 22 miles from Carson City/Minden, Nevada, when following Hwy. 88 and making the turn onto Blue Lakes Rd. There are other Blue Lakes in California. This lake is in Alpine County. The lake reaches an elevation of 8,000 feet, so make sure you are comfortable with high elevation. There are several mini-islands speckled throughout, along with avenues of grassy lake weeds. The greenery adds charm. Because the lake is in the mountains, the water is cold. If swimming is your thing, check out the Northern bank where the water is shallow and a bit warmer. Note: The shoreline is quite rocky and maintaining solid footing is difficult in most places. Grab a kayak, canoe, fishing boat, or sit along the shore and listen to the quiet sounds of nature. The lake is small, peaceful, and uncrowded. In fact, one time we were scolded by some fishermen who thought our kayaks floating through the water were too noisy. Clearly, they were on the wrong lake. Anger doesn't belong there.

Take your lunch with you, and climb up on top of the massive boulders bordering the roadside of the lake. Sit and enjoy the air and watery view. It will do wonders for your digestion. Steps away is a forested area if you feel like hiking a bit. I will warn you, there are many boulders alongside the road. Stay alert and prepare for wildlife. This is their home. It is always a good idea to buddy-up when hiking in the woods.

You may be happy to know that there are nice bathroom stations on site which P.G. & E. maintains. Dress for cooler mornings and evenings, but expect mild weather during the main part of the day in summer months. As with most mountain lakes, the wind can stir things up at times. The water is normally the calmest in the morning with breezes kicking up in the afternoon some days.

Only small boats are allowed, with access from unimproved ramps. Among the recreation possibilities are fishing (rainbow trout), picnicking, hiking, backpacking, and even mountain biking. I believe there is a swimming area on the Northern shore where the lake is more shallow.

Sorenson's Resort (never been there) is close by which offers cabins, a restaurant, and a grocery store. Hope Valley Resort has campsites for tents and R.V.s with reservations. Call for current fees. Hiking is also available on the Pacific Crest Trail and others in the Mokelumne Wilderness nearby. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Magnificent Caples Lake

Caples Lake is a 600-surface acre lake situated in Northern California, inside the Eldorado National Forest. The elevation is 7,600 feet.

If you are looking for a secluded escape in a forested area, Caples fits that description. Kirkwood Ski area sits immediately next door, as does Kirkwood Lake which is 3 miles to the west of Caples Lake. One of the great things about Caples, is that it is directly off a well-maintained highway (in summer months). Hiking trails are nearby, in case you want to add that to your activities. There are no cafes or restaurants close by.

This lake is a personal favorite for kayaking. There are islands which allow visitors to float past and explore a little touch of nature. The views are breathtaking! My husband and I always beach the kayaks and eat lunch on the center island chain. After all, that's half the fun.

Couple words of caution: Caples Lake can be affected by high winds, which means white caps. This can occur after you are out on the lake, so check the weather report and wear a safety vest. We've been caught out a couple times in some fairly fierce winds, but our Wilderness kayaks were not even slightly phased. If you don't own a kayak, the lake office has them for rent as well as paddles and vests. They are not fancy, but they're adequate.

If you are into fishing, Caples Lake offers a variety of trout. Regardless, if you visit to kayak or fish, temperatures are important to take note of in this mountainous area. Mornings and nights are cool, and the water temperature is cold.

There is no reason to be concerned about speed boats spoiling your serenity. Fishing boats cannot go above 5 mph if they have an engine. You will see some fishermen, but not many. They want the lake to be quiet just as much as the person that is kayaking or in a canoe.