Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lost and Found

 Hiking off trail in Bucks Wilderness with my son Greg, I was reminded of when my kids were toddlers and in similar situations would ask, "Dad, are we lost?"  I'd say, "No.  We're right here."
So, one of our objectives yesterday was to find Lost Lake.  I wondered how it got that name.  It seemed that if someone found it, it should be named Found Lake.  If they didn't find it, there'd be no need for a name.  Such is the sort of crazy thinking that happens when I'm walking up steep granite slopes in blazing sun, thirsty, and overwhelmed by the beauty of a place.  On the way to Lost Lake, there are quite a few very small lakes apparently without names.  One of these my son had found on a previous trip and said it was loaded with Yellow-legged Frogs, currently the subject of an ongoing fish vs. frogs diatribe.  I was excited at the prospect of seeing lots of these frogs since I hadn't seen any in a quite a few years.  I remember clearly that when I first arrived in California in 1965 they were common in nearly all the creeks and ponds I visited in my frequent forays into the Sierra from my first California home town, Yuba City. So, the photos above and below are a small sampling of our findings.  I had forgotten about the high quality of their slime.  It is very hard to remove.  The rocky shoreline of this still-lost lake had hundreds of these beautiful frogs resting half submerged and very alert as to our presence.  Our informal "research" has found these little lake have either notive frogs or non-native fish, never both.  Hmmmm....
 In a deep canyon adjacent to our frog lake, we heard a rustling in some bushes perhaps 100 feet below us.  We wondered - Aplodontia?  Marmot?  What could it be?  The scale of things in this high country is very deceiving.  What seems to be small boulders in the distance often turn out to be house-sized when approached.  That was the case with this animal noise.  When it emerged from the bushes, it turned out to be a full-sized Black Bear (cinnamon phase).  Bears always mesmerize me by their body motion suggesting they are slow but their actual speed being much greater than mine.
 This bear was obviously aware of our presence.  It first headed uphill in the canyon, but Greg got a little bit ahead of it on the granite wall above, so it made a U-turn, at which point I got these photos, then it continued down the canyon and disappeared over an open granite ridge possibly a quarter mile away.
I think we covered approximately 10 miles.  It felt like 20.  We ascended from Silver Lake through the woods and over the granite, visiting several lakes, until we arrived on the Pacific Crest trail at a point just east of Mt. Pleasant.  We then hiked more or less NW along the PCT to a point a mile or so past Mt. Pleasant where we found an overlook of Lost Lake, probably at least 500 feet below us.  We then hiked back along the PCT to Granite Gap from which point we hiked back to Silver Lake on a well-marked trail that passes between Rock Lake and Mud Lake.  All in all, we saw great views in all directions and I took over 150 photos, many of which I'll be posting in the next few days.


  1. Excellent Joe, mammals and amphibians in a single day is fantastic. I am curious what insects you managed to dig up!