Thursday, August 9, 2012

To boldly go: hiking at Frenchman Lake.

Date: May 27, 2012
Place: Frenchman Lake, Plumas National Forest, California
Trailhead at 39.9018, -120.1735.
Difficulty level: moderate.

Here I share what we did on our second camping day at Frenchmen Lake. To read about the first day click here.

By morning the rain was gone and the cloud cover seemed harmless so we went on a hike. Following the recommendation of the campground host we looked for the trail marked on our map (the forest service multi-use map) as 24N01, which is one of the many utility dirt roads that criss-cross the forest. We tried to follow one lead that tuned to be false and found ourselves wandering between the trees and between torn apart camp sites of an old campground that was once there. We saw some lovely mulesear flowers in bloom.

Mulesear on the forest ground
Eventually we gave up and joined the main gravel road that goes alone the lake and headed toward Crystal Point - a pretty peninsula with a nice sandy beach.

Lake view from the gravel road
 There were quite a few fishers there, enjoying the beautiful beach.

Fishers at Crystal Point
 There were also many beautiful birds, including a small group of white pelicans and this lovely male blue bird.  Here are some of the birds we saw at Crystal point:
Pelicans huddling
Mountain bluebird, male.
Casiin's finch, male
A yellow-rumped warbler
 And the crown jewel: a bald eagle circling above.

Bald eagle
When we came out of Crystal Point we saw the other end of our elusive trail and desided to hike it back to the campground. The trail soon climbed up on the hills and the signs that we saw along the way were labeled 81 and not the label we saw on the map. The trail, however, followed the contours seen on the map so we continued.
Panoramic view of the lake from way up high on the forest trail.
 Doubt did creep on us every now and then but we continued onward. It didn't help that the little chicas and their friend kept whining, To distract my my mind from the whining I photographed this artistically pretty fallen tree.

A beard of green lichen covered the top part of the trunk.
Eventually, after several worried discussions and twice scouting forward we found the trail junction leading down toward the campground. When we came down we found that the trail goes through the disperse camping area and meets the road a bit south of the main campground, and that is why we missed it going out.

Altogether, the hike was 5 miles long and took us (at child pace and including many breaks) about 4 hours. Very pretty hike.

We stayed one more night at the camp site. That night there was no cloud cover and the expected frost did come. We woke up to a frosty morning that soon gave way to a beautiful, warm day. We ate breakfast, had a little stroll by the lake and then broke camp. Our friends headed to Sacramento to visit relatives and we decided to take a detour through Colusa and visit the National Wildlife Refuge there, a place that became a regular pilgrimage site for us, bird loving quails. Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, however, merits its own blog post.

So until then, have a wonderful hike!

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