Independence Lake -- Tuesday, 9/27/16
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.