Snowshoeing on Dry Lake

Playing on Dry Lake

Playing on Dry Lake

Two weeks ago Farley and I, along with our friend Keith, slogged six miles up to Dry Lake. We found it still covered with snow, just like the surrounding mountains looming above. Another March day, but in 2003, Farley photographed Dry Lake for Call of the Mountains, page 80. But that day, ducks bobbed around in the lake’s water. Keith hadn’t seen Dry Lake in more than 20 years when he camped there with his small son. After a food break, we put on our snowshoes and ran around on the frozen lake like children. This sparkling 9,000 foot stage must have triggered our spontaneous play. It reminded me – not of other snowshoeing occasions – but of snow games I played as a child growing up in the Midwest.

San Gorgonio Mtn. above Dry Lake

San Gorgonio Mtn. above Dry Lake

Around the lake and as far down to South Fork Meadow, we noticed ski tracks made when the snow was fresher. Keith had hoped to ski instead of snowshoe, but the snow was too icy and patchy in places. I came back with more respect for the hardy folks who lug their skis or traverse up toward the higher reaches of 11,500-foot San Gorgonio Mountain. Now I understand better why skiers in the 1930s and 1940s wanted mechanical lifts developed. Yet I’m glad that wilderness designation persevered, protecting the scene we experienced. Of course Dry Lake is not a natural lake, created by Vincent Taylor, who in 1883 dammed the stream outlet with rocks and timber. He talked about building a cabin resort along the lake, but thankfully he didn’t get it accomplished.

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