Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ice-covered Tamarack Lake with Ralston Peak

Partially ice-covered Tamarack Lake reflecting cloud-topped Ralston Peak

Lake bank with water, rock and ice
Tamarack Lake is a shallow lake in the Desolation Wilderness west of the Echo Lakes. This lake is popular with both dayhikers and backpackers [1-3]. Over the Memorial weekend (2016) Tamarack Lake's north shore turned into a little camp ground; probably, since farther-out sites in the Aloha Lake neighborhood were still too wet or icy. The rocky south-facing slopes between the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Tamarack Lake were partially clear and dry. The lake itself was still covered by a floating sheet of soft ice—except for a narrow band of open water at the lake bank.  

To access the small Tamarack Lake—and the even smaller Ralston Lake and Cagwin Lake just south of Tamarack Lake—most visitors hike the PCT (here, coincidencing with the Tahoe Rim Trail) paralleling the Lower & Upper Echo Lakes. From the Desolation Wilderness boundary, the hiking distance to the shore of Tamarack Lake is less than a mile. Another option is via Haypress Meadows from the Ralston Peak trailhead at Highway 50 (north of Sayles Flat)—about six miles, one way.

On hot summer days, Tamarack Lake provides swimming and also fishing opportunities. When ice-covered and cold in spring, it is a serene and untouched body of water—still mosquito-free. Blue and white is the color palette, with green slowly making its appearance as the winter landscape fades away. Mike White describes the lake and its surroundings as follows [3]:
A light forest of mountain hemlocks, western white pines, and lodgepole pines rings the shoreline. A small, tree-covered island near the south end adds a bit of character to the scenic lake.

In the picture below, this small island is easily overlooked. The snow-white lake blends into its snow-covered surroundings and the imposing Ralston Peak is stealing the show. 

The small Tamarack Lake island at the center backdropped by Ralston Peak
References and more to explore
[1] Adina Marguerite: Into the Deolation Wilderness: Tamarack Lake Hike [www.adinamarguerite.com/blog/2014/3/10/into-the-desolation-wilderness-tamarack-lake-hike].
[2] Avid Backpackers: Tamarack Lake October 2008 [www.avidbackpackers.com/htm/trips_2/tam.html].
[3] Mike White: Afoot & Afield. Wilderness Press, Berkeley, Ca, 2nd printing 2008; page 219.

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