A tip from our friend, Marlene, sent us up into the high country before the weather turns chilly. She was right on the money, too -- Independence Lake Preserve was well worth the 75-mile drive (one way). We love being in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, so the long drive is no bother. Right now vibrant fall colors are beginning to show, which makes the landscape even more picturesque.
From Truckee, we drove north on Hwy 89 toward Sierraville, and we spotted two Forest Service campgrounds -- called Lower and Upper Little Truckee River campgrounds. We didn't even know the Little Truckee River (above) existed, but it sure is pretty. I could come back and camp here, as long as the Little Truckee River wasn't iced over and snow wasn't part of the decoration!
We didn't know anything about Independence Lake heretofore, either. This beautiful body of water is one of the most pristine alpine lakes west of the Rockies, and the majestic wilderness that surrounds it will remain protected from development because lake and land are part of The Nature Conservancy's holdings. They're doing a great job conserving this jewel. The elevation here is 7,000'.
Hiking, fishing, and kayaking are offered here. It's all free, but I'm sure a donation would be gratefully accepted. The kayaks along with necessary equipment are provided, free -- no lugging heavy boats. A quiet day on the water -- a little slice of heaven. Well, we didn't know, we weren't prepared, so we opted to hike from one end of the lake to the other, a distance of roughly six miles r/t. And I can tell you, the hike was a wonder. We met only one other couple hiking the trail other way; otherwise, we had the place to ourselves.
The aquamarine water is so clear, so transparent, that we could see the tandem kayak's shadow, above. Would that we had known in advance -- on October 1st, the conservancy is closing down boating on the lake for the winter. Looks like we'll have to wait till next summer. We'll be sure to keep this in mind. Maybe bring fishing poles.
Our second time sighting a docile Rubber Boa, only this poor dude was dead. I touched its tail to see if it would move, but no soap. They're very soft, non-threatening. I verified that it was dead when we saw it in the same spot on our return. Jimmy thought it may have died from eating something that got stuck in its stomach (which looks grossly swollen).
What the heck are these prickly things? They look like miniature red bombs.
Life is good. The days are Sweet.
Getting bopped on the head by one of these would HURT!
Yes, I saw bear scat (I'd guess a fairly recent deposit, too), and this moderately large paw print.
No bear, though.
Take your picture, mister?
Independence Creek flows into the lake here, and this marked the turn-around point for our hike. With the temp at 77 degrees, we got a little warm hiking in the sun, but much of the trail was shaded by tall trees, which we appreciated. The forecast for the end of September calls for wind and cooler temps (as in, forget shorts, wear jackets), so it appears we got our hiking in under the weather, so to speak.
We stopped at Jax on the Tracks in Truckee again for supper, always a good feed there. We were back on I-80 west at 6 pm, into the setting sun, which hurt, but only for a little while. Home a bit after 7pm, tired and with our dogs talking to us, but happy as two people can be. Perhaps we'll have another shot at a mountain airing before the snow flies. Hope so.
The days are winging past too fast as the year wanes, flying by like autumn leaves in a gale. Hard to grasp the later sunrises and earlier sunsets, when it seems like we just celebrated Independence Day. I guess we snapped our fingers and summer slipped through ... *poof* it disappeared. We had a taste of cool temps last week in NorCal, but summer's heat is hard to get rid of.
Jimmy and I bought tickets for Sunday morning's Draft Horse Classic events at Nevada County Fairgrounds, showcasing "Amateur Reinsmanship, Log Skidding Eliminations, and Farm Implement." I mentioned the heat and today was a scorcher at 90 degrees, tho it was tolerable beneath the tall trees at the fairgrounds. Sitting in the blazing sun was a bit much. The expected crowd didn't materialize and I think the hot weather can be blamed. The bleachers aren't shaded, but at least we weren't looking into the rising sun. Nevertheless, watching the "gentle giants" was fun, new for us, too.
There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
The hardest thing about learning to ride is the ground!
Look at those translucent eyes. They make the horse look mad, demented.
Never saw a horse with eyes like these.
"Maybe somebody will open the doors and let us out?"
The events started with these white mules and wagon carrying the flags.
This fellow could blow the horn! "Let the festivities begin."
This lady won the Amateur Reinsmanship with these beautiful Clydesdales.
While the corral was being set up for the next venue, the mules entertained, or at least the fella above did. The photo below demonstrated a mule train and how efficient these guys are in some locations. Normally, five mules are used, but you get the idea. Mules have a certain reputation, but the announcer was full of praises for them.
Official photographer attire.
Why walk when you can ride behind your horses?
Manes and ladies hair look-a-likes?
Belgians (Big and Strong), Clydesdales (Handsome and Famous) and Percherons (A French Import) were mainly featured in today's events. I know what a Clydesdale looks like, but I can't tell you for sure which is which on the others.
Can you spot Jimmy in the "crowd?" Hint -- he's wearing an aqua-colored shirt.
Log skidding -- it was a toughie for the entrants,
but this lady did it in style in red pajamas!
We liked the following stunts the best. Billed as Gladius The Show in Las Vegas, these performers on Belgians were amazing to watch. Imagine standing on (and not falling off) two horses the entire time, and guiding six horses part of the time.
The Belgians were MOVING, trotting, whatever you want to call it, and nobody fell off. I have trouble standing on stable ground (ooh, another pun) without tripping or tumping over.
Cute green bows. The End? Nah.
With everybody panting like dogs, Lazy Dog Ice Cream had two locations on the fairgrounds, both doing a stellar business. I had a dark chocolate with Heath crumbles Bar and Jimmy ordered a dark chocolate coffee bar. Perfect lunch for a hot day. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Draft Horse Classic. It was nice to check it out.
We love living in Nevada City ... there's always something to do here. Plus, we're only a couple of hours from the Pacific coast and only a little over an hour to Lake Tahoe, with a myriad of places and things to see and do in between. Today our original plan was to hike in the Sierras, but the high country weather forecast called for clouds and even showers (cold showers, no less), so we decided to walk around Nevada County's fairgrounds instead. That's always good for a nice walk. We got lucky today, because they were setting up for the Draft Horse Classic coming this weekend. Isn't it nice they allow walkers and joggers in while getting ready for a big weekend show? I took a few pictures.
You lookin' at me?
Pucker up ... how about a smooch?
To me, these horses are terrifyingly huge. Look how the above horse towers over the washer-woman, and she's taller than I am. Each one of these horses weighs about a ton. I think this guy is enjoying his bath on such a pretty - warm, but not hot - day.
Nice clean feet.
This horse's pen is a little higher than where I'm standing, but not by much.
They are massive!
Riding in style. Wait, where's my chauffeur?
We didn't count (didn't think to count, either) the number of horses today, but we saw a ton. Whoops, it's a pun. Most of them looked like Clydesdales, and they'll be featured in the various venues, such as driving and pulling, singly and in tandem, and so on. We've never attended, but maybe we'll buy a ticket this year and see what these big dudes can do!
We stopped to watch the cowboy riding his horse around this corral. No one else was nearby. The man called out to us, "This horse was totally wild 130 days ago." And as we watched, the horse stopped on command. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves! I guess horses can enjoy the moment, huh?
A harvest fair will be held in conjunction with the Classic; you see vendor booths already being put up. They'll be lots going on. I think the public can get in free to the grounds, to check out the goodies. Such an attractive fairgrounds. The Marigolds this year are beautiful.
Looks like some pollinating going on.
No, really, THE END!