I KNOW there's a pearl inside that oyster! Tues 9/2/14

With daytime temperatures again hovering at 90° in our Gold Country foothills, it was time to head for the mountains.  We scouted around on the Internet for new hiking trails in the Tahoe National Forest basin, and settled on one that seemed to be the closest for us... just off the Hwy 20/I-80 juncture... and one that looked pretty good.  So, with lunch packed, water bottles filled, off we went to hike the "moderate" rated Loch Leven Lakes trail.  Just off the South Yuba River canyon, Loch Leven Lakes is actually a chain of three glacially-formed lakes -- small bowls in the granite.  Elevation at the trailhead was 5,680'.  There wasn't a cloud in the deep blue sky (not good for drought, but nice for hiking) and the temp up here was a perfect 76°.  I think we hit the trail about mid-morning, 10:30ish.

Up we go.  Kinda rickety-looking path...

 ... but then it became this...

... and this -- easy to lose the trail up on these smooth granite slabs. 

 Ain't this a beauty?  It was huge!

Up we go!  Here comes Jimmy.  That's the I-80 freeway way down there.

 To our joy, we would cross the Union Pacific RR tracks.  While we were still a long way out, I zoomed in on this cool diesel pulling what looked like an individual "home on wheels!"  (enlarge photo)

And, by gum, a mile in from the trailhead we are at the RR crossing.  I put my ear to the track to make sure no train was coming.  Just kidding, I didn't really do that.

Dang trail really began to disintegrate after we crossed the tracks and it got steeper, going from 6,000' to 6,800' in 1.25 miles.  Tough slogging over much of this, with exposed roots ready to trip n' trap toes!

 Made it to this pretty as a pearl lake (two-and-a-half miles to lake one).  Water is cold!
We rested and ate our sandwiches sitting lakeside.  Very nice.

 This is middle Loch Leven Lake, the largest of the three, with islands.  Another pearl.

After hiking nearly 3 miles to the middle lake, we decided we didn't need to hike another 3/4 mile to the third lake; we still had to make our way down. 

We've been on some rough trails before, but this one (factor in the 1200' elevation gain, too), this one was punishing!  We wondered who rated it as "moderate!"  We were soooo ready to be finished long before we saw the car!  Up, down, hoisting, dodging, climbing, clambering, using feet, hands, walking sticks and all four at one time, reaching, up/down, hurt our bodies.  Pearls, yes, but the price was hefty!  I know I'm mixing metaphors, but this oyster was a tough nut to crack!

Once in a while, tho, we came across a scene-stealer such as this.  We paused here to take in air, rest, drink water, cool down, find footing amid the rocks 'n roots -- pick one or more -- and admired.  That's enough.

Oh well, Jimmy said we could return some day and hike to the third lake, High Loch Leven.
I replied, "Maybe not."


  1. 1200' elevation gain in just a few miles over that craggy trail is no walk in the park. #BitBrutal Like the lakes and the RR tracks. Cool.

  2. Mark another one off your list......

  3. Anonymous8:08 PM

    Yeah. I might skip it too! Sue

  4. You sure there was a trail there? The going down must have been even tougher.

    1. It seems hard to believe there's a trail. Yes, going down was tough and it took almost as long as going up. Gravity was in our favor, but no way could you build up momentum ... and if you did, well, watch out! I tripped so many times on this trail.


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