Tahoe National Forest – Warren Lake – August 22 & 23, 2009
In mid-august I led a local Sierra Club trip in TNF to Warren Lake. I hadn’t been to Warren Lake before but I had visited Paradise Lake, which is just on the other side of Warren years before. I ran across this hike reading a book about wildflowers and thought the trip sounded really nice with the potential of wildflowers and a nice challenging hike in and out of the lake. I did not expect to see many other people on this hike because of the effort at the end of the hike to get to the lake. There is about a 2200 foot gain followed by 2100 feet of loss in about a mile. The total one-way length of the hike is 7.5 miles. I was excited about this trip because I had hiked with everyone before and they were a really great group. It took us a little re-navigation to make it to the trailhead, which is on the south side of I-80 at Donner Summit because there was a bunch of construction going on. We headed out and went through he tunnel that goes under I-80 and headed up to the east of Castle Peak. When we got to the saddle Tobi provided an interesting perspective to Castle Peak. We headed into Coon Canyon and were rewarded with wildflowers….I had low expectations of seeing wildflowers because it was already late in the season. The group quickly split in two…those busy with picture taking and flower-identification and those who wanted to get to the lake. I think when we got to ridge above Warren Lake we all had some hesitation….the data about the drop did not lie we were going to drop very very quickly many many feet. There was some apprehension but we had a very hardy group and we got down pretty quickly….my knees were rocked and I was glad to be down….I wasn’t about to think about going back up. I was a bit disappointed when we got the lake there were very few sites for a tent and was glad that no one else was down there or else we would have had trouble finding spots for the whole group. Also there was a lot of vegetation that blocked a view to the lake. The lake itself was really big and nice and several folks in the group headed in for a swim. We had a good evening together hanging out and talking to each other before heading to our tents. I should mention that this was a tarptent trip I think we had a total of 5 on the trip.
The next morning most of the group woke up because of rain. I hoped if we slept a little longer then it would go away I was definitely not looking forward to climbing out of the lake in a downpour. Fortunately for us the rain stopped and the climb out was not as painful as anyone thought it would be. The other bonus on the hike out was that I found my camera….I had apparently set it on a tree branch when we stopped for a lunch break….oops. The group had split up again into two but was finally reunited at the saddle by Castle Peak. We also went and took a look at Frog Lake from the pass. We then headed down and got back to our cars in record time….which left plenty of time to take the group to Ikeda’s where shakes, burgers and pie awaited us.