- When – June 14 – 15, 2014
- Tahoe National Forest – Sugar Pine State Park to Lost Lake – Trail
- Elevation gain from Sugar Pine to Lost Lake – approx. 1500 ft
- One way hike from Sugar Pine to Lost Lake – approx.. 8 miles
- Lost Lake – approx.. at 7500 ft
- Pictures - https://www.flickr.com/gp/57882009@N02/049o92/
This was an unexpected destination. I had originally planned a trip in Desolation Wilderness on the west side of the Wilderness. Unbeknownst to me there had been a huge wind storm the fall previous to this trip and it had knocked down several trees in the area that we were suppose to hike. While I love the online permit system for Desolation it would have been nice if it had been able to restrict the permits in that area since there was no estimated opening date and the area as far as I know did not open all summer...oh well. I figured this all out a week before the trip and we were set on backpacking so I began to search for alternatives. I immediately ruled out Desolation itself since most reservable permits would be gone. I did some hunting around and consulted with my Tahoe hiking book and I was looking for hikes with wildflowers given the time of year and I found an alternative!!!! It was a hike out of Sugar Pine State park but I couldn't find a single person who had written about backpacking there...I figured it must be worth checking out. So I called Sugar Pine State Park and asked about the trip to Lost Lake and the person said sure you can backpack up there just pay $5 to park in the campsite parking lot.....Trip saved.
After staying the night in Alpine Meadows and stopping for a wonderful cup of my favorite coffee from Tahoe House we pulled into Sugar Pine state park. We geared up and hit the asphalt and meandered through the campground....we were quite a spectacle I think for the campers as the sole backpackers walking around. After weaving through the campground we hit the trail and proceeded to get ourselves lost...hey come on it was the first trip of the season the navigation skills were rusty and there was too much talking going on to concentrate on logistics. We finally got ourselves headed up the way towards the trail to Lily Lake (you later bypass the side trail that goes to this lake). We were rewarded with fields of flowers...imagine that just like the book said. This of course put me way behind Curtis and Nora as I had to take lots and lots of pictures especially of the lupines. We also came across lots of mountain bikers and I was glad to be carrying a pack up the trail and not trying to get the bike uphill.
Again signs became limited and we did some detouring before we finally crossed General Creek. Once we did that we thankfully did not become route challenged again. The hike was very nice and we ran into very few people once we cross the creek. We stopped for lunch on a great rock that look down into the lake. The entire hike was below forest line so it was nice and covered. We made our turnoff towards Lily Lake and ran across one family that was returning from a day hike...I should one family with some very very tired looking kids. I had no idea what to expect when we got the lake....would there be good campsites? would it be a good swimming hole?....would there be snow so I could make Tang snowcones.?...these are all important questions. When we arrived at the lake, which was pretty sizable, we were the only ones there. We also seemed to wander straight into the only decent campsite at the lake. We did some wandering but good sites were slim pickings so if you do want to do this trip I'd say get there early and don't bring a huge group. Unfortunately it was a bit chilly and not really swimming weather so we hung out and talked, read and wandered.
I had my camera with me so around sunset I just started walking above the lake because the sky had a lot of interesting clouds. It of course was one of those surprise sunsets where there was a lot going on and I not knowing the lay of the land was stumbling all over the place to get a good composition. Just as I was done shooting to the Southeast I looked back to the lake and saw this really amazing color in the sky and on the dead still water. I ran down the hill...seriously I ran...that's what you do...and got to the lake and just started shooting. It was definitely a time where I was glad that I knew my camera so well and I came away with a keeper photo. Night fell and we packed it in.
The next day was still a bit overcast and a little muggy. We had an uneventful hike out and I took more pictures of the same flowers....yes exactly the same flowers. I unfortunately had not packed any beer in the car so that meant we had to go the Bridgetender....where Nora and I gorged on veggie burgers and Curtis went for the real deal...and Bridgetender makes really good burders....Nora and I finished off our food with a chocolate covered banana....oh how I love backpacking!
This was a perfect starter trip for the season and I highly recommend it for wildflowers as well as limited crowds.