Date: September 6, 2015
Place: Kirkwood Lake, California
Coordinates: 38.701388, -120.076196
Length: 1.8 miles
Usually when I make it to the Kirkwood area it is to experience the joys of winter wonderland. Last year, however, I had the opportunity to explore the area a little during summer. Last Labor Day weekend we went camping with friends near the Carson Pass and on one of the days there we hiked around Kirkwood Lake.
The lake isn't part of the ski resort but it is certainly a resort area. There is a campground at the western lake shore and a myriad of resort houses and cabins along the eastern and northern shores. The southern shore is left for some awesome wild granite cliffs.
There is a hiking trail surrounding the lake that is connected by a short path to Hwy 88. The trailhead is marked with a modest sign that is easy to miss unless looked for. There is a small pullout with a short dirt driveway where we parked the cars. We took our day packs, breathed in the hot summer air and set out for the hike.
I didn't expect to see any flowers this late in summer but I did see some late asters here and there wherever the sun got through the trees.
But generally, most plants had done blooming and were already fruiting.
As short a distance as it was, it did feel like a long time before we arrived at Kirkwood Lake. We sat there for sometime, staring at the water. It was very hot, but there wasn't any good place there to go in the water, and no one suggested it anyway.
What we did see was a quick movement in the grass. A call of excitement from the head of the line and I shot forward with my camera - quick enough to catch the tail of a dark snake as it slithered away into hiding.
The squirrels were less shy. Hopping here and there between the trees and over boulders and logs. One of them stopped for a brief pose.
The water looked very inviting but when we finally arrived at the western edge of the lake where the campground was, everyone just slumped on the cement ledge there and zoned out.
The heat was intense. We had a long break at the western lake shore near the campground area. It took a while to get everyone back on their feet and down to the trail again.
The southern lake shore is mostly rocky slabs that go down all the way to the water. Hiking there involved climbing on the boulders and that got some life into the children who enjoyed hopping on the rocks. It was there also that we finally saw other people resorting by the lake. And where else would they be on such a hot day? So we had to take care not to step on anyone as we made our way between the rocky nooks.
There, hidden in the crevices, is also where I found some more bloom. Not a whole lot, but enough to cheer up the summer's dead heat.
But not too quickly to appreciate the wildflowers that were still on.
|Western Eupatorium (Ageratina occidentalis)|
The granite cliffs accompanied us along the trail as we started back toward the road. High and smooth. The trees that were sparse at first soon grew thick and we were engulfed by the forest.
After having led the hike all along I finally found myself bringing up the rear. That was good because I had the time to check out the plants and to find the last wildflower of the summer there.
|Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)|