Gold prospecting was a lonely occupation for most of the men who came to California as 49ers. Wives and girlfriends had been left behind. Often the only female companionship a miner might have was the type you paid for. Every town of any size had its whorehouse, or possibly several. One way the miners compensated for their loneliness was by naming lakes in the Sierra Foothills and Mountains after their favorite female companions, be it a wife, a girlfriend, or a particularly friendly lady of the evening.
I honored the tradition when I made my solo trip into the Grouse Ridge/Black Buttes/Five Lakes Basin Area. I had hiked out on Saturday from the Basin but Peggy wasn’t coming in to pick me up until Sunday. I didn’t want to hike up the Grouse Ridge Campground and spend the night. It was undoubtedly crawling with people. So, I went looking for a substitute.
A small lake that I had camped on before had been taken over by cattle, lots of them. I hiked on. Another little lake was shallow and also a favorite watering hole for my bovine companions. I hiked on and on, getting father and farther away from the trail. Much to my surprise, I came on a little, unnamed lake that I had never been on before— and I’ve crisscrossed the area extensively. It was shallow, only a few feet deep, and it might very well dry up in another month or two, but it was gorgeous. I decided to name it Peggy’s Lake, after my best friend and wife. It’s nothing official of course. It won’t show up on any maps. But I knew that Peggy would like ‘her’ lake.
And I am not going to tell anyone where Peggy’s Lake is! There’s a reason.
The Grouse Ridge Non-Motorized Area is well-loved. Maybe too much so— especially for someone like me who prefers his wilderness rugged, wild and relatively people-free. But I make an exception for this region. It’s an easy place for people to get to and is very backpacking-friendly for families and newcomers to the sport. It serves as a great introduction, as it did for our grandchildren, Ethan and Cody. And as it did for me in the 1970s. There is great value in this— for the people of course— but also for our world. People who experience the wilderness in a positive way are much more likely to appreciate it, and want to protect it. And protecting our wild areas is ever so important, for ourselves, our children, and future generations.
This doesn’t mean that I am beyond selfishly wanting to keep a bit of it to myself, like Peggy’s Lake. So, I’ll share photos, but not location. (grin) If folks who frequent the area are charmed by the photos and go out of their way and find the lake: Welcome.
It was only proper that Peggy, Tasha, Ethan and I ended our backpack trip the following week at Peggy’s Lake.
I am off to Black Rock City, my friends. And I am excited to return to the desert, the incredible art, and the magic of Burning Man. This year’s theme, Radical Rituals, promises to produce some interesting art. For example, what the heck is the Pagan Bunny Shrine? The creators say it’s all about hoppiness. We’ll see. Anyway, I’ll be away from my blog again for a week. But immediately afterwards, I’ll begin a series of posts on this strange, sometimes wonderful, and occasionally downright weird event. And I’ll respond at that time to any comments you’ve made in the meantime. See you then. –Curt
46 thoughts on “Peggy’s Lake”
What beauty you find on your adventures.
It’s always there, Lulu, waiting to be found. Thanks. –Curt
A beautiful lake and a beautiful post Curt.
It’s another gem, Ray. I’ll certainly be back. Thank you. –Curt
Yes it is. I can’t imagine going back into the Grouse Ridge area without stopping off. Thanks. –Curt
Places like that are the reward for getting off the beaten path.
So true, which is why I always make a point of doing so! –Curt
The shallow lake over rock is similar to what I’ve experienced in the Adirondacks of New York. I enjoyed the writing…thanks Curt.
Thanks, Michael. Good to hear about your lakes in the Adirondacks. I’ve driven through the area several times but never backpacked there. –Curt
It is a really lovely lake and I like the reflection pictures.
Thanks, Andrew. I’ve been on literally hundreds of mountain lakes over my backpacking career, and I felt that ‘Peggy’s Lake’ was equal to any of them. –Curt
Just stunning. What camera do you use? 🙂
We operate with two cameras, Lana: A Canon Power Shot G7X, which is compact and relatively light but takes good photos. All of the shots in this blog were taken with it. Our other camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T 6i. –Curt
Ah so good to know as I need a camera for when my Iphone runs out of battery on trips 🙂 Thank you Curt.
Peggy’s lake is enchanting! I like the idea that it may be temporary as well. It inspires me to go exploring and see what other magical little lakes are out there waiting to be enjoyed.
If I can inspire that, my job is done. 🙂
As much as I enjoy your mountain hiking trips and the fun you all have – I am looking forward to Burning Man!!
Coming soon, G! 🙂
Beautiful photos! To me the monster is more like a sacred protective totem. Have a great time at BM.
Ah, I like your perspective, Alison. From now on I shall think of it as a “sacred protective totem.” 🙂 Off early tomorrow! –Curt
Have a great time!
Lucky Peggy! A lake just for her. Gorgeous area, Curt. And your photos give full credit to the beauty.
“Yes!” says, Peggy. And thanks. It is indeed a beautiful area. –Curt
Doesn’t this just all encourage us to pack up and go hiking, pitch a tent and light a campfire?
Hope so, Gerard. 🙂
We need more of the young to be educated about nature and how we ought to be guardians rather than try to act like owners!
Its a constant, ongoing process, Suan! Thanks. –Curt
I know I would be honored to have such a lovely lake named for me, and I’m sure Peggy feels the same!
Yes, Lexi, Peggy was quite pleased. 🙂
Haha I have found a monster before as well, in the form of a skeleton and you reminded me that I do have to look for that picture. Beautiful Shots again, thank you for sharing.
You are welcome Rhapsody. Jumped over to your blog and found Lake Winnemucca. Been there many times over the years. Have you hiked down into Fourth of July Canyon and Camp Irene? I led many a Trek that direction. –Curt
I Curt, I did hikes up to Round Lake but never down to Camp Irene. What a beautiful area it is and Carson Pass is always a favorite.
I bet you have many adventures to tell from your own trek’s. 😉
Many, many. 🙂
Beautiful spot. It makes you wonder how many other hidden gems are out there.
Lots, Dave. 🙂
Those still waters. Perfect for reflections of any kind!
Nature at its finest, Rusha. –Curt
Ahh…I bet Peggy was chuffed to have a lake named after her! 😀😀 The reflections are magical, so serene and crystal clear…a wonderful place for your family and you do right to keep it a secret and treasure its hypnotic location. Have lots of fun there…and hope Peggy gets a better hand next time she plays poker! 😀
She has been beating me at poker lately, Annika, so I am not rooting for her too much. 🙂 And I am sure we will return to Peggy Lake. Hopefully many times. –Curt
I can understand why you would want to protect the location of Peggy’s Lake. a true wilderness paradise and how fabulous to share it with your generations of family. I chuckled at the 6:30am card games. Challenging at the time and yet how lovely that the grandchildren seek out Grandma as the first thing to do in a day. Your monster reflection looks extra scary in it’s portrait position!
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Thanks for the link! –Curt
This lake, and your photos, are stunning. No wonder you wanted to make a return trip!
It was a jewel. And needless to say, Peggy loved ‘her’ lake. 🙂