A very different type of day at Lower Kinney Lake
July 3, 2002
Lower Kinney Lake contains a good population of very nice sized, Lahontan cutthroat trout and has provided me with some nice fishing experiences in the past. Especially, while slowly trolling from my small, inflatable raft
I talked Elaine into going, which translates into having her carry a number of things in her backpack rather than having to carry everything myself, if I had gone alone.
Because we planned to spend the day fishing from my little raft, we had a large number of things to pack in, such as:
A three-man raft, complete with two oars and their blades.
Two life preservers.
Three fishing poles and reels (two for me and one for Elaine).
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A plastic, tackle box, loaded with assorted flasher blades, lures, flies, snap swivels, sinkers, hooks, etc.
A small, fishing net (if we were lucky enough to catch any fish).
A plastic container filled with large nightcrawlers.
My fishing vest, loaded with artificial flies, bobbers, Power Bait, Salmon eggs, first-aid kit, plastic bags (to carry fish), spare fishing line, knife, fishing pliers, fire starter, mosquito repellent, etc.
Our lunch of chicken wings, salami, cheese, hard rolls, candy bars, oranges and two cans of diet soda pop.
Two sweaters and light jackets in case the weather was cool (it was!).
Two crossword puzzle books and pens (if the fish were not biting).
We carefully loaded everything into our two backpacks, put them in the back of the pickup truck and took off for Kinney Reservoir.
On the drive between Markleeville and where we parked at the reservoir, we were constantly dodging dozens of bicyclists on that narrow, winding, steep road. They were apparently practicing for the huge “Death Ride” to be held later this month.
We finally arrived at Kinney Reservoir, parked the truck and then got out to stare at the water.
The wind was blowing pretty hard and the lake was badly white-capped.
My first thought was “To heck with it, it’s too darn windy. Let’s just turn around and go back home.”
While we were standing there and staring at the wind-whipped water, we saw a group of five, young backpackers coming toward us from the direction of Lower Kinney Lake.
When they got close enough, I asked if they had been at Lower Kinney and if so, how were the weather conditions there. They replied they had camped there overnight and that the wind was not as bad as it was at the reservoir.
With that, we decided to give it a try.
We put on our backpacks and began the hike into that lake.
After about 20 minutes of steady hiking we were near the lake.
— Now, for a short but necessary departure from this story:
About 10 years ago, I came down with a very serious case of viral pneumonia, which put me into Carson-Tahoe Hospital on two different occasions within a two week period.
As a result of that illness, I am now ultra sensitive (AKA allergic) to mowed grass and any smoke, especially cigarettes. (I plug up and begin to wheeze in a heart-beat).
In addition, since that bout with pneumonia, I have also developed an ultra sensitive sense of smell.
I can keenly smell odors, just like a bloodhound, long before anyone else.
— Now, “for the rest of the story:”
As we approached the lake, I began to smell the odor of a campfire.
I told Elaine, “Hey Sweetie, I can smell wood smoke.”
She responded, “I don’t smell anything. Your nose must be acting crazy. There is no one here except us. I think that you are smelling those old, dead, lightning-burned logs, lying over there.”
I said, “Nope, my nose is not lying, I smell fresh smoke from a campfire.”
“How can that be if we are the only ones here?”
I replied, “I don’t know but I trust my sense of smell and am going to look around.”
We took off our backpacks and I began to look for a possible source of that smoke odor.
I looked and looked and looked and carefully checked out everywhere and every fire ring that might be a source of that smell.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
However, I was bound and determined to prove that my sense of smell was working.
Then I walked over to one final, small fire ring. Bingo!
There was a fire blazing away inside that fire ring and my keen sense of smell had been absolutely correct.
It was an unattended fire, partly covered with dirt. It had obviously been left by the five, young backpackers whom we had seen hiking out from the lake.
Those overnight campers had made a near, disastrous error in dealing with their morning fire.
They had thrown that dirt on the fire, thinking that it would be extinguished if covered up. They were very, very wrong.
The dirt merely banked the campfire and it had continued to smolder under the dirt until it got hot enough to burn through and ignite in the brisk wind.
If we had not happened along, sparks from that unattended campfire could have very easily carried into some nearby tinder-dry material.
If that had happened, it could have very quickly become a huge, out of control, raging, forest fire.
Fortunately, my ultra sensitive nose detected the smell of that fire.
The only thing that we had to put out the blazing fire was my small, metal Sierra cup and we quickly went to work.
Elaine and I took turns making many trips to and from the lake to get cups of water to douse the fire.
While one person slowly poured water on the fire, the other person carefully stirred the coals to soak them. After many trips with the Sierra cup, the fire was finally out.
With that task behind us, we were then ready to fish.
It was far too windy to attempt to use the raft, so we rigged up our poles and began to spincast with small lures from the shoreline.
As we were casting, I bet her, dinner for two at a local steak house, that I would catch the biggest fish.
After just several casts, I caught the first cutthroat of the day, a nice 10-inch trout. Unfortunately, it was all downhill, for me for the rest of the day.
Elaine “smoked” me.
She nailed the most fish (she had 8 and I had 7, all caught and released) and she also had the largest (a large cutthroat of about 15 inches).
Sigh. I now owe her a steak dinner.
We ate our lunch, drank our drinks, fished a short while longer and then loaded up our backpacks for the hike back to the truck.
As we left, I used my empty pop can to give that miserable fire one last dousing of water to make doubly sure that it was completely out. It was.
The moral of this story is”Be very careful with fire in the Great Outdoors.”
— Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you the name of the nearest U.S. Forest Service campground to Kinney Reservoir.
If he responds, “Silver Creek Campground, which is located just several miles way,” you lose the bet.
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