Bein' a desert rat ah ain't nevr keered much fer lakes, but when the turn for South Lake Recreation Area (14 miles West of Bishop, California) presented its self, sompin' compelled me.
When I arrived the trailhead parking lot wuz plum full. Thar musta been at least 60 vehiklz cheek-tuh-jowl. For-choo-nitly, around the corner and not mor than a few hunnert feet away wuz anudder. An hit wuz practically empty! Apparently hikers, like Walmartz patrons, like to park as close to the trailhead/door as they kin git. I often watch from der hinterlands as they wait for someone to vacate that most-coveted spot. Obviously, they have more time than energy.
But as I was sayin'...there at South Lake, I admired the snow-covered peaks and did my best to visualize it before the dam. I imagined the burgeoning trout and the elk, otters and countless birds gamboling along the flower-bestooned banks. I was workin' at it hard and could *almost* see the grizzlies jostlin' each other over the best tidbits.
Unfortunately, it's been dry the past several years (decades?). There's a puddle up next to the mountain, but there's half a kilometer of bare dirt betwixt it and the base of the dam.
The dam once claimed integrity from the power it generated, but it's been over ten years since it did anything at all. There're anecdotes that the Paiute lived here for thousands of years and, according to recorded history (the ONLY kind that matters, dontchya know?) never suffered from the lack.
I chose one of the two picnic tables overlooking the lake (bed). Iron mooring bars embedded in the granite less than 40 feet away added to the poignancy. Now 300 feet above the dirt (there's a puddle behind the dam but the lake has shrunk so much there's a three-hundred foot stretch of dirt between it and the lake), I imagined how people thousands of years hence, after the iron has rotted away, will puzzle over the smallish post-holes in the granite. Or, perhaps, as with today's anthropologists, they'll attribute them to some religious purpose.
I cooked some pork chops, drank an un-American stout (beer) and watched the cloud shadows. But there was still more road. And since this was the red-blooded (blood-red) holiday, I just HAD to go (alltheway) to the end.
And there...was Lake Sabrina. She too had seen better days. Note the two docks (photo below) sitting side-by-side. About a kilometer or so up the valley one could see the hint of water. I read in the Mammoth Lake Sheet there was less than 50% of the regular snowfall. I wondered what year they used for "regular" since it seems the "drought" has been going longer. I'm skeptical of all this drought business. I suspect they had a few wet years that in their innocence(?) they tho't (You think these people think?) were "normal."