Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cliff Lake California

Spencer, Michael, Zack (Michael's friend) and I spent a couple of days last week in the high country northeast of Fresno (California). We started from the Cliff Lake trailhead just northwest of Courtright Reservoir (elevation just over 8,100 feet) and climbed about 1,300 feet to Cliff Lake. July is a great time to be backpacking at this elevation. The trail was nice and the temperature couldn't have been better. The one drawback (and it was a big one) was the relentless cloud of mosquitoes that never went away.

This has been a wet year and a lot of snow has accumulated in these mountains. There were several snowpacks still dotting the meadows that we walked through. In some places, the trail had been transformed into a small stream and we were forced to walk along the side. With all this water there were also a lot of snowmelt pools. And in these pools there were mosquito larvae (wigglers) by the thousands (by the millions). At first we thought they would disappear as we got higher. We were wrong. Even though the first sight of Cliff Lake was a welcome reprieve to sore legs, it turned out to be just as mosquito - infested as many other places on the trail. We ended up covering ourselves with repellent and covering our faces with articles of clothing in order to keep our sanity.

We somehow managed to set up a small camp and enjoy the evening (after the mosquitoes went to sleep) but by the next morning we were ready to get away from the torment. Later in the day we drove to Wishon Reservoir and jumped in the cool water. It felt great on our many festering wounds.

I don't mean to make this sound too bleak. Cliff Lake is a beautiful place. Hopefully these pictures will make you want to make the trip. I just advise that you do so at another time than July in a wet year. The hike itself is four to five miles long (one way) and not all that difficult.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Californian Lakes must be great for taking a dip this time of year, sounds refreshing!