It’s almost mid-July and it’s time to enjoy a special treat
July 10, 2002
How in the heck can you go wrong with a combo like that?
Are you interested?
Well, for those of you who are interested and who are either new to the area, have never enjoyed this combination before or would like to return, here is a ton of useful information for you:
— That special treat is found just a short hike from the Kit Carson Pass area of California’s S.R. 88.
— To reach it, take a combination of U.S. 395, Nevada S.R. 88 and California S.R. 88 to the top of Kit Carson Pass.
That’s a drive of about 41 miles, straight south from Carson City.
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— Once you are at Kit Carson Pass, you will be required to pay a $3, daily, parking fee, charged by the U.S. Forest Service to park in their paved parking lot.
And, be advised, that if you decide to park on the little road, just before the pass, the “Feds” will also nail you there with that same $3 parking fee.
I’m not really sure why you have to pay to park alongside of a little road but I guess that $3 is $3 in the eyes of the Forest Service.
— Once you’ve parked and paid your parking fee, you’ll hike on a well-defined trail that will lead you to Winnemucca Lake, a distance of about two miles.
— Before beginning your hike, be sure that you have a light jacket or sweater for variable weather conditions, camera, plenty of color film, lunch, drinks, sunglasses, sun screen and insect repellent.
And as a special treat, if you’re a fisherman, take your fishing gear.
— Once you’re on the hiking trail, be sure to take it slow and easy.
You’ll be walking at an elevation of about 9,000 feet.
If you’re not used to high altitude, it’s very easy to quickly run out of air and energy at that altitude. Take plenty of rest breaks and use the spectacular scenery all around you as a good excuse to catch your breath.
— Hike from the parking area to the junction of the trail to Frog Lake, a distance of about one mile.
If you are a fisherman, be aware that Frog Lake is very deceptive-looking.
It really does not look like much of a trout fishery, however, it contains a good population of rainbow trout, up to about 16-17 inches in length.
This can be a very good backup trout-fishing lake if you find that Winnemucca Lake is too windy to fish.
— Then as you continue on your hike, just a few hundred yards past that junction, the trail forks again.
The left-hand fork leads to Ebbetts Pass (22 miles away).
The right-hand fork leads to Winnemucca Lake (about one mile away).
Take the right-hand fork.
At this location, you’ll have the very distinctive looking and well named, Elephant Back on your left, snow-capped Round Top Mountain (the highest point in the Mokelumne Wilderness Area) directly in front of you and Caples Lake, far below, on your right.
Start using your camera and color film for awesome scenery shots all around you.
— Then continue hiking on the Winnemucca Lake Trail to reach the multitudes of wildflowers.
They are located in a large, mountain meadow area, just before you reach the beautiful, deep, crystal-clear, ice-cold Winnemucca Lake.
You can’t miss the flowers. They will be in an area of bright colors: green, white, red, yellow, blue, violet, etc.
In that area, you’ll see many types of flowers including Mule Ear, Indian Paint Brush, Lupine, Buttercup, etc.
If you’ve never been on this hiking trail, don’t be afraid of being alone. Just follow the hordes and hordes of people.
On any Saturday or Sunday, at the height of the wildflowers, you can easily count tens of dozens of other hikers.
One year, at the height of the wildflowers, I stopped counting at 400!
— To enjoy the wildflowers, follow these basic rules of common sense:
1. Stay on the well-marked trail. Don’t take shortcuts.
2. Be considerate of other hikers. Don’t walk two abreast.
3. If you’re a member of a large group, step aside and let smaller groups pass.
4. Step out of the way of the occasional heavily-loaded backpacker.
5. Do not block the trail, while admiring the flowers, when other hikers are trying to pass.
6. Don’t set up your camera in the middle of the trail.
7. Don’t trample other flowers, while trying to get that one absolutely perfect camera angle.
8. Keep your pet home. If your dog must be with you, have it on a leash.
9. Don’t litter.
10. Last and most importantly, enjoy Mother Nature’s handiwork and beauty.
— Then as a bonus, when you are done admiring the wildflowers, take the short hike of about 400 yards to reach the shores of nearby, Winnemucca Lake.
The lake contains good populations of Eastern brook and Kamloop trout.
The “brookies” run up to a respectful 13-14 inches and the Kamloops measure up to 18 inches.
If you brought your fishing gear, be sure to fish the far back side of the lake for the best results.
Your best chance of success will be with an inflatable raft or a float tube.
Be advised that shore fishing is normally very poor and Winnemucca Lake normally gets very windy in the afternoons. If it does, return to Frog Lake.
On a recent visit to Winnemucca, Elaine and I did very well spincasting with either a gold Kastmaster or a red/white TOR-P-DO lure from the shoreline in front of the hiking trail.
— At this time of the year, this particular area offers something for everyone.
That includes high altitude, easy hiking, gorgeous high-mountain scenery, cool weather, trout fishing, an awesome display of wildflowers, plus other activities such as rafting, float tubing, swimming (if you’re brave enough!), day-hiking, picnicking, backpacking, camping, photography and mountain climbing.
— As someone who has spent his entire life having fun in the Great Outdoors doing things such as salt water fishing, fresh water fishing, big game hunting, camping, hiking, four-wheeling, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, horseback riding, white water rafting, etc., one of my all-time favorite outdoor activities is the hike into this area to enjoy its scenery, fishing and wildflowers.
How in the heck can you go wrong?
If you go, it will be a special treat that you will long remember.
I guarantee it.
— Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t name the lake past Winnemucca Lake.
If he grins and says, “Round Top Lake is just over the next ridge” you had better have money to pay off.
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