Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Getaway at Sly Park a.k.a Lake Jenkinson - 7/15/11 - 7/17/11

          Sarah and I were able to get away for the weekend and enjoy some sunshine and swimming at Lake Jenkinson also known as Sly Park. Sly Park is located in Pollock Pines just past Placerville and a few minutes off of Hwy 50.
          We sat through brutal Friday afternoon traffic and arrived at Sly Park just after sunset. We unpacked the gear at the cabin where we were staying and relaxed with some cocktails.


          Saturday morning we started off slow, relaxing at the cabin and living it up. We got our things organized for the day and set off for the lake. Parking along the Mormon Emigrant Trail near the spillway and Dam, we set off on the mountain bikes along the single track that wraps around the lake. With a few clouds in the sky the weather was perfect for a mellow ride.
          The singletrack hugs the shoreline for most of the time offering ample views and swimming opportunities. We opted to only ride the undeveloped shoreline which is the most enjoyable part of the trail anyhow.
          Wildflowers were plentiful and I was stopped in my tracks at the sight of an unusually giant Tiger Lily.

Wild Tiger Lily

          The trail is a great beginner’s singletrack with very little elevation change and few obstacles to keep it interesting for more experienced riders.
          It is best to get an early start along this popular stretch of trail in order to enjoy a nice flow, as the later it gets more and more trail users will require frequent dismounting. The upside to that is it forces one to stop and enjoy the views more often.
          While stopping to let some hikers pass I noticed some inconspicuous orchids poking up out of the drab forest floor.

Wild Orchid

          We stopped to rest at a bench with views looking out onto the magnificent aquamarine colors of Lake Jenkinson.

A Perfect Spot to Rest

          After a couple of miles of riding we decided to turn around and head back so we could spend some time on the lake with our raft.
          As we were pumping up our raft a few mountain bikers rode by and one of them got a pinch flat right in front of our eyes. I offered to help patch the tube as I had a patch kit and full sized bike pump readily available. The pinch flat was what is known as a snake bite where the rim pinches the tube in such a way that there are two holes in the tube. This made for a difficult patch job and unfortunately we never were able to get the tube to hold air completely. I felt bad that these gentlemen had come up from Sacramento to go for a ride and were now out of luck. The guy who got the flat had a great attitude about it and told the other two to ride ahead while he’d jog behind them. It was a perfect lesson of going with the flow rather than putting up a resistance. An event like this could ruin some folks day, but these guys were off to have a good time regardless.
          With our raft pumped up I rowed us across the lake a distance where we tied off to a tree to relax and go swimming. We spent several hours on the lake soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the views of the snow capped Crystal Range in the distance.
          We retreated back to the cabin where we BBQ’d and relaxed for the rest of the evening.


          I got up before sunrise and headed down to the lake to take some photos. I love the quiet morning hours as they are often serene and meditative. About a half hour before sunrise is often when the colors are the best and when I arrived at the dam the sky was lit up nicely.

Break of Dawn at Lake Jenkinson

          While waiting for the sun to peak over the distant mountains a Coyote scampered across the road next to me. By the time I switched lenses the Coyote was too distant for a decent shot.
          The sky got brighter and the sun eventually rose above the horizon offering a beautiful sun star above the lake.

Sunrise Over the Crystal Range and Lake Jenkinson

          After sunrise I drove a short distance to a wildflower filled meadow that I had noticed the day before. The meadow was still wet with dew and I got soaking wet as I walked out into the tall grasses. The abundant wildflowers made a terrific foreground as the first light touched the meadow.

First Light on Wildflower Filled Meadow

Gorgeous Meadow

Different Vantage

          The sun got higher in the sky and I headed back to the cabin to have breakfast with Sarah. We had a slow morning and packed up our gear. We checked out of our cabin and went for a scenic drive on the Mormon Emigrant Trail to Silver Lake along Hwy 88. The views were spectacular and there was even some significant snow banks remaining along the upper elevations of Hwy 88. We stopped at a pullout off of the Mormon Emigrant Trail to have some lunch.

Roadside Picnic

View of the Crystal Range & Crimson Columbine from a nearby pullout

          After lunch we drove back down to Sly Park and again set out on our raft into the warm waters of Lake Jenkinson. Last year we saw quite a few Osrprey overhead, but this year we did not see any.
          In the evening time we had dinner in Placerville and cruised home without any traffic. It always amazes me at how fast the drive is when there is no traffic. There is something to be said for traveling at night.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That tigerlily is amazing...and the color of the water in the lake is beautiful. Great trip!