Lukens Lake

May 28, 2013
Lukens Lake
Total distance:  1.2 miles

Lukens Lake, located in the high country of Yosemite National Park, is a nine acre lake surrounded by forests and a meadow.

Lukens Lake

Lukens Lake

Andrew, his friend Eric,  and I ventured there on this cold and windy day.  We chose the shorter trail from Tioga Road as our route.   In July 2010, Andrew and I walked the longer route from White Wolf Lodge.  This time of year the lodge is closed.

Eric and Andrew on Tioga Road.

Eric and Andrew on Tioga Road.

We made our way uphill, breathless from the elevation.  At 8,200 feet, the soft trail still had snow in spots.  We walked through the dark forest and over a couple of small streams.  The White Wolf route would have taken us over a section of the Middle Tuolumne River.  It would have brought us to the sunnier and drier side of the lake.

At the trailhead.

At the trailhead.  Andrew is carrying a backpack filled with a float tube.

Following Andrew’s lead, we walked through the very wet meadow stepping carefully on the spongy grass trying to avoid crushing the tiny marsh marigolds along the way.

The meadow.

The meadow.

Marsh marigold

Marsh marigold

Poisonous corn lilies were just beginning to sprout.

Corn lilies

Corn lilies

After we had traversed the meadow, I learned that that side of the lake was closed.  The trail used to run through there but the deepening path was affecting drainage and harming plants.  The trail was diverted through the forest.  With large mounds of snow in the shadier areas, it was hard find the trail.

Avoiding the meadow on the way out.

Avoiding the meadow on the way out.

Andrew and Eric set up their gear near a snow bank at the water’s edge.  A pair of ducks swam across the pond as the boys cast their lines.  In 2010 Andrew caught and released a large rainbow trout at this spot and was hoping to catch another.

Where we spend the day.

Where we spent the day.

Eric fishing from the shore.

Eric fishing from the shore.

I sat on a log and watched a deer graze in the meadow and heard a trickle of melting snow making its way into the lake.  John Muir’s favorite bird, the American dipper, plunged its head into the frigid water in search of food (no photo of my own).

American dipper.

American dipper (photo credit: naturalsciences.org)

The boys were having no luck at the shore, not even a bite, so Andrew inflated the Caddis float tube.  Braving the cold water, he set out for the middle of the lake with a paddle in one hand and a pole in the other.

Just setting out.

Just setting out and feeling the cold water creep up his backside.

Getting situated.

Getting situated.

Within minutes of casting, he had a rainbow trout on the line.  Dinner!

A rainbow trout.

A rainbow trout.

Nature's ice chest.

Nature’s ice chest.

The wind blew, keeping the mosquitoes away and chilling us to the bone.  I walked around the lake to warm up, jumping over its creek-like outlet.  The path through the woods was wet.  Trees were bent and broken littering the forest floor.

Andrew fishing on the sunny side. July 2010.

Andrew fishing on the sunny side. July 2010.

On the other side, sheltered from the wind and sitting in the glow of the sun, I watched as Andrew and Eric changed places in the Caddis.  Eric paddled out.  As soon as he cast his line into the lake, he caught a fish.  With one arm he rowed back to shore and as he reached the edge, the fish came off the hook and swam away.  “Oh no!” could be heard echoing around Lukens Lake.

Walking back.

Walking back.

On the drive home, we stopped and looked at Tamarack Flat campground located three miles off Tioga Road.  The boys planned a two-night trip there beginning the following day.

John Muir always says it best:  “Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”

16 thoughts on “Lukens Lake

  1. motioners

    We are going to hike up to Young Lakes in a couple of weeks which is also off of Tioga Road. We’re hoping the hot weather over the next few days will melt a bit of the snow on the trail. Your blog is so refreshing. Love the photos. bill

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    1. Janet Post author

      Thanks, Bill. I’m looking forward to your post and photos of Young Lakes! I’ve never been there. We’re backpacking next week at Glen Aulin to Waterwheel Falls. I think we’ll be okay in terms of snow.

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    1. Janet Post author

      He said it was cold but he got used to it. He was trying to let his socks and shoes dry in the sun. He stayed barefoot the whole day.

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  2. Kathy

    Very beautiful, Janet. And to think you have snow in California…when ours seems to be *finally* gone. Have never seen corn lilies. Love that a rainbow trout was caught and nature provided a cooler.

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    1. Janet Post author

      Thank you, Kathy. Our snow comes with the elevation. Up high there is still a bit left. The corn lilies bloom later in the year. I’ll have a photo of them blooming in another post.

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  3. Daniel McCarty

    Janet, I’m taking a trip to Yosemite to visit old friends and meet new ones in July. The pictures are inspiring, can you make them bigger? And come the end of July, I’ll share my Yosemite pics. Thanks for sharing Janet…………..Dan from Roadsenseandnonsense

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    1. Janet Post author

      Dan, I think if you click on a photo, it should enlarge. Looking forward to seeing your photos and reading about your trip in July. The wildflowers should be out in full in the high country in July.

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  4. SocietyRed

    Janet,
    I’ve been so busy I forgot about my favorite thing to do. Yesterday I was packing up my backpacking gear and remembered. Now I read your beautiful post and I can’t wait to get done with this project and hit the trail. Thanks for the reminder.
    John

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