Our Top Family Hike of 2015: Frog Lake on the PCT

Honestly, I've felt such like a "home-body" this year, but as I looked through all of my social media recaps we were able to still have some great adventures in 2015.

#2015BestNine on Chasqui Mom ~ Instagram

#2015BestNine on Chasqui Mom ~ Instagram

Having three small children makes EVERYTHING exponentially harder, especially getting outdoors.  But you know what, even though it is harder to get outdoors I've never regretted doing it.

My husband trying to relax by Frog Lake, alas he cannot.

My husband trying to relax by Frog Lake, alas he cannot.

At 8 weeks post-partum, both my husband and I were dying to be hiking high up in the mountains.  It was a Friday in May and my husband said, "I wish we could go to the Sierras," and I said, "Why don't we?!" A few hours later we road tripping to where we love hiking the most: The California Sierras.  We didn't care where we hiked exactly but we wanted to be on the Pacific Crest Trail so after consulting a blogging friend of mine Jeff Moser of The Path Less Beaten we decided to hike from Carson Pass to Lake Winnemucca in the Mokulumne Wilderness.

As we arrived to Carson Pass, the kids were anxious to get out of the vehicle and lo and behold, even in this drought ridden year in California there was snow, in May.  My kids were ecstatic, I mean rolling on the floor singing "Frozen Fractals all around" ecstatic.  Not only were we going to throw rocks in a lake but there was snow, if you have kids you know how exciting this is.

The air was crisp, the excitement was high and this was only like a 4-5 mile round trip hike with a bit of snow to Lake Winnemucca, how hard could it be?

Well we never made it to Lake Winnemucca.  Apparently, May is still to early to visit there even after 4 years of drought, unless you have cross country skis or snowshoes but we didn't know that.  Despite not making it to Winnemucca we still spent time at a lake, we took an extended break at Frog Lake, we crossed creeks, and saw Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

My favorite memory of this hike is my daughter arguing with me that the mountains across the way were fake because they had snow on them.  I kept telling her they were real and we were hiking to find Elsa's castle.  She just couldn't believe that those mountains were so large and had snow on them.

Another great experience we had at Frog Lake was seeing an American Bald Eagle fly above us.  We were getting ready to leave Frog Lake to Lake Winnemucca when I saw something large fly onto a tree at the other end of the Lake.  I immediately saw the white head and white tail, and started quietly yelling "Bald Eagle, Bald Eagle!!" to my husband and kids.  We all saw it and at that moment I wished my dad was with me because he would have loved to see it.  Don't worry my dad is still alive, I just wish my dad could have seen one in the wild.  I was so happy to see it and I'm not going to lie, I had a tear in my eye.  

A free and wild American Bald Eagle.

A free and wild American Bald Eagle.

We continued on to Lake Winnemucca but made it less than a mile, close to Elephants Back, when the snow became too much for us.  We didn't have any of our snow gear so the novelty and joy of snow was wearing off thanks to constant sinking, cold hands, and wet feet.  Don't worry it was mostly a warm day.

Right when we were deciding to head back or not, a hiker was coming back completely drenched telling us Lake Winnemucca was still frozen over and that we'd needed snowshoes to actually get there.  The kids were tired so we decided to turn around as well but of course go back a different way.

At our second break at Frog Lake, we consulted an old topo terrain main and decided to take a split off trail more direct than the PCT.  Little did we know that trail was no longer in use and was completely covered in snow.  I followed the trail with my GPS and Trimble Outdoors app back to the trail head, found some old looking trailblazes and what seemed like the THE LONGEST MILE EVER, we finally made it back to Carson Pass.

I checked the trailhead when we got back to the car and saw a note that the "trail" we were on was no longer in use and then I realized we were just bushwhacking through the snow with my 5, 3 and 8 week old baby.  Oh well, we were safe and I guess that's what adventures are made of.

I have fond memories of Frog Lake because one day we will be thru-hiking the PCT with our kids and we will be able to tell them stories of the bald eagle, not finding Elsa's castle and my daughter taking off her shoes to walk into a icy cold lake.

We had many great adventures in 2015, with the great addition of our fifth hiker to our family, Baby Diego.  Thanks to him we are having extra fun, he's a delight.  Check out his hashtag #ThePach for more of his little adventures, he's a really cool little dude.

Happy New Year and let's see where 2016 takes Chasqui Mom and familia!


Frog Lake Trail Report:

Trail Description: Frog Lake is 1.2 miles (2.4 round trip ) from Carson Pass, California - Hwy 88.  Stay on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The loop in the above picture is a trail that is no longer in use.  

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