August 1, 2022
Sand Marsh Trail
Part 1 of 5: Vacation to the Lakes Basin, Sierra County
Total distance walked: .60 miles
Pinecones and Pinedrops
Chris and I headed to the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. There’s a lovely lake north of the Yuba River Canyon that I’ve previously written about. Sardine Lake sits at the foot of the Sierra Buttes in the Tahoe National Forest.
When my husband was a kid, he and his family vacationed at the small resort nestled under the trees at the lake’s northeast shore. When our kids were little, we brought them to this area too, and now we were there for a week-long respite with our grandchildren.
It was a cloudy and cool morning on the first day of August. We left the guys behind to fish, while my daughter-in-law Sarah—who carried James in a baby backpack, and Luke and I sauntered to the nearby Sand Pond.
In the 1800’s, the Young America Mine was one of the largest quartz mines in the area. Its stamp mill sat just above Sardine Lake. The mill’s rock waste or mine tailings were dumped at the site of the Sand Pond.
Years later, the tailings were removed and reprocessed. When they were removed, a low spot in the earth remained.
Water from Sardine Lake filled the basin resulting in a beautiful sandy-bottomed swimming hole.
Passing the Sand Pond, we continued our stroll to the Sand Marsh Trail.
Looking at the trail from a two-year old’s perspective, pinecones were fascinating, particularly the small ones that hungry squirrels gnawed into sharp, pointy cones. Then there were the stalky, sticky stems of pine drops.
For the rest of the week, each time Luke saw a long-stemmed wildflower, such as the toxic ranger buttons we walked by, he’d say, “pine drops, Gramma.”
The interpretive trail highlighted the gold mining era and changes that have taken place over time. The path headed into a marshy region along a wooden boardwalk. Signs warned that the boardwalk was closed. When I walked it in 2019, it was quite rickety and falling apart.
We turned around and made our way back to Sardine Lake, to our men who were finished fishing.
On this pleasant and easy-going hike, Luke learned about pinecones and pinedrops. It was a great start to a week filled with fantastic hikes.