Sunday, July 20, 2014

From Carson Pass to shallow Frog Lake

Shallow Frog Lake
Frog Lake filling a shallow depression in an open bowl

The Carson Pass area features various hiking trails connecting trailheads and campgrounds with historic sites, lakes and grand vista points. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) passes through. Northbound, it leads to Meiss Meadows, connecting with the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), Echo Summit, Round Lake and Dardanelles Lake. Southbound, a 5-mile-long hiking trip will take you to Forestdale Divide, on which you will pass Frog Lake after about one mile.

Small, deep-blue reflection pond next to PCT
Starting on the west side of  the Carson Pass Information Center, you will find an information kiosk with a trail map, notes on the PCT history and local natural history. Not very far from this trailhead you will pass a pond with an unusually deep-blue body of water, reflecting surrounding conifers. 

Entering the Carson Pass Management Area [1], you will reach Frog Lake by ascending a few switchbacks through thinning forest—while being treated to sweeping views of ancient lava domes and craggy volcanic vents such as Round Top.

The shoreline of Frog Lake consists of coarse-grained sand and granite boulders. Its water may change from clear to muddy, after slowly drying up towards the end of the summer season. Mike White writes [2]:

Frog Lake [...] fills a shallow depression in an open bowl dotted with widely scattered pines. Lacking a permanent inlet and outlet, Frog Lake develops a muddy bathtub ring by the end of the summer.

But don't bring your bathtub scrubber! The frogs may not like it. Speaking of frogs, during my visit I didn't see or hear any frogs—only resting two-legged visitors busy with lunch break conversation.

The Frog Lake in the Mokelumne Wilderness is not the only Sierra Nevada lake with this name. There is another Frog Lake north of Donner Summit and east of Castle Peak: scenic Frog Lake Overlook can be reached via various hiking routes. 

References and more on staying and hiking in Kit Carson County
[1] Up and Over Carson Pass: (scroll down to find a Carson Pass overview map with lakes and trails).
[2] Mike White: Afoot & Afield. Reno-Tahoe. Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 2nd printing November 2008; page 303.

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