Loon Lake – A Terrific Secluded Retreat

28 06 2007

On a whim last weekend, I ran away to a secluded alpine reservoir resting a top the vast expanse of the great Sierra Nevada mountain range. Loon lake (and the adjoining Pleasant Lake depending on the water levels) is a man made reservoir situated over a mile above sea level in the El Dorado National forest and less than 30 statue miles from Lake Tahoe. Its remote location makes for great camping: the high altitude chases away most types of flying insects, the lake water is pristine and clear (and drinkable with an appropriate water filtration system), and although the access road ends at the north dam of the lake, the forest service’s designated campsites and campgrounds are limited to the south shore. Naturally, one does not drive 4 hours out of the bay area to rub elbows with other fellow campers so I’ve always set my sights on the north shore beyond the reaches of the north dam and the gravel access road that leads up to it.

On the trail…

For all you off-roaders out there, the north dam is coincidentally the trailhead for the highly popular Rubicon jeep trail that snakes its way through the Sierras and then dumps its human cargo on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

The lake truly offers a little of something for everyone…

Some snapshots:


Beyond the north dam is a trailblazer’s delight. Although scores of trails have been forged through the wanderings of campers, the vast and varietal collection of meadows, lagoons, wooded canyons, and large rocks and boulders that define the young Sierras leave plenty of room for curious exploration. If hiking isn’t your thing, make sure you pack a canoe or kayak. Launching your boat from the north dam is a breeze and afterwards, you can spend the rest of the day slicing your way around the lake admiring the small remnants of snow still atop the jagged peaks looking down at you. A word of caution: During the summer, a strong breeze blows from the south during the afternoon hours. If you are looking to relax by setting yourself adrift in the middle of the lake, the best time of day to do this would be in the hours surrounding sunrise and sunset. Otherwise, expect a strong south-to-north current during the afternoon hours (important to remember if you want to avoid knifing your way against the current back to the north dam).

Ready to launch?

I hear mountain biking is a lot of fun as well, but I haven’t experienced it firsthand and haven’t seen any others either so I’ll only say one thing: It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Large boulders and steep drops would appear to make this a technically challenging course. I could be wrong –but leave your Huffy or tandem bike at home for this one.

So what if physical exertion isn’t your idea of a camping trip? I’m right there with you, brother. If you were like me and packed enough food and beer to feed a small third world country –and then get each and every single one of them drunk… well, you’d basically have the same experience as my last visit to Loon Lake. In no particular order, we ate and drank, stared at the lake, ate a little more, drank a whole lot more… and then rinsed & repeated. I tell you, there’s nothing more exhilarating than stomping around with your shirt off, pounding beers, stuffing your face full of red meat, and just plain ol’ being filthy. Mind you, that keeping clean at Loon Lake is much less of a chore due to the amount of big, clean-faced granite rocks. Not a whole lot of dirt to be had. And of course there’s always the wet, lake ‘thing’ about a stone’s throw away.

Our one new adventure this time around, was the ‘packing of heat’ (airsoft heat that is) and running amuck playing our version of capture the flag, cops & robbers, or assault & defend –whatever you want to call it. Let me just say: It was ridiculously fun and intense. Try running around at 7000+ feet, trying to catch your breath only to hear 6mm plastic BBs whizzing by your head. You make a leap for it, and end up prone on your belly and wedged between a large bolder and some shrubbery. Realizing your clip is almost empty, you fire off a few wild shots in the direction of your pursuer hoping they’ll retreat long enough for you to exchange your mag with a fresh one. It worked. Sensing your enemy is using the down time to also reload, you make a mad dash for the flag; your heart throbbing in your throat. Just as you think you’ve got this game in hand, a small, sharp pain, like someone pinching you on St. Patty’s Day, nips you in the lower back and signals your life, for this round anyway, has come to end. Disappointingly, and yet with a grin you can’t conceal, you place your hands on your head to announce to the world that you my friend, are dead, and will have to retreat to the designated spawn site. You make your way back to the spawn site quickly, yet still allowing yourself to catch your breath. Arrival at the spawn site marks the beginning of the game-imposed 5 second penalty timeout for getting plinked. Is that enough time? Lock & load… A press of the thumb-release, a swap of magazines, and a loud clack-clack of the slide loading the first BB into the chamber… an emphatic YES.

Now safeties off… I’m ready…

A beautiful gaze…

Disclaimer: Please abide by all state and federal laws when owning and operating airsoft weapons. Airsoft weapons cannot be modified to shoot live ammunition. Only bio-degradable BBs were used. No animals were harmed in the writing of this personal account. Please adhere to all rules posted when camping in or outside of designated camping areas in the El Dorado National Forest. Practice fire safety; be aware of any fire restrictions. Be environmentally friendly: If you pack it in, pack it out.




3 responses

28 06 2007

Real life counter-strike…drools. LET’S GO BACK WITH PISTOLS.

28 06 2007

Ha… I wanna bust a cap in Long’s…

2 10 2007

Want to start your private office arms race right now?

I just got my own USB rocket launcher 🙂 Awsome thing.

Plug into your computer and you got a remote controlled office missile launcher with 360 degrees horizontal and 45 degree vertival rotation with a range of more than 6 meters – which gives you a coverage of 113 square meters round your workplace.
You can get the gadget here: http://tinyurl.com/2qul3c

Check out the video they have on the page.


Marko Fando

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