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Weaver Lake

Jennie Lakes Wilderness

August 26th, 2005

4.2 miles
845 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:18

Rating: 8/10

Directions: From Fresno, drive east on Highway 180 toward Sequoia/Kings Canyon. Just after the park entrance, take the right fork toward Sequoia (as opposed to the left fork toward Kings Canyon). Drive 7 miles and turn left onto Forest Service Road 14S11, toward Big Meadows. Drive 4 miles, past Big Meadows, and turn right onto the dirt road just past the bridge over Big Meadows Creek. Stay on the main dirt road the whole way, for about 1.5 miles. You will see a lesser road to the right and then left; ignore them. 4-wheel drive is appreciated here, but a sedan is okay.   View Driving Map

When we arrived at the large dirt parking lot around noon, it was completely empty. Having last been to this trailhead for a hike to Jennie Lake on a July 4th weekend years ago, this was quite a contrast. It was a late August Friday and we had the whole place to ourselves -- for about 15 minutes. While we were getting ready to head out, two cars pulled in, with 8 backpackers (3 adults, 5 kids). They were also headed to Weaver Lake, but would be spending the night.

We started off on the trail, which shortly crosses a creek and begins climbing immediately. It's standard Sierra forest here - no sign of sequoias, but it's pretty all the same. The trail is quite sandy, but easy to follow. After a short climb we reached the main trail which starts from Big Meadows. We turned left to continue on up toward our destination.

Shortly, we passed tiny Fox Meadow on the left and continued uphill. The next trail intersection is by a small creek. To the right is a signed fork toward Jennie Lake. We'd been there before, but this time we took the left fork instead, easily crossing the small creek and continuing on the trail on the other side.

From here, the trail climbs steadily. While the first part of the trail had been mostly shade, this part after the trail intersection is mostly out under the hot summer sun. There are still trees, but they are scattered more and don't provide much shade relief. That being the case, there are also some decent but not spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

After about another mile of climbing, we reached another trail intersection. The trail off to the left heads toward Rowell Meadow. Instead, we continued straight and very shortly came to Weaver Lake. The lake sits at the base of rocky Shell Mountain. It's a beautiful place to just sit around and relax. Still, it's not quite as pretty as Jennie Lake.

Weaver Lake

Another view of the lake

We had the lake to ourselves for about 15 minutes before the 8 backpackers arrived. Another group of 3 more backpackers arrived just before we left the lake. In the meantime, we had lunch and watched blue damselflies (the same kind I'd seen at Five Lakes near Lake Tahoe). I always thought these were dragonflies, but after doing a little research, I think they're damselflies (which are similar, but smaller). In any event, they're pretty.

Looking back at our lunch spot

I was also fortunate enough to spot a tiny little frog, about half the size of my thumb. I chased it around with my macro lens. This was my first hiking trip with my new digital SLR camera (Maxxum 7 Digital). Before this, I had been using slide film with my film SLR (Maxxum 7). Overall, I was pretty happy with it, although some of the greens weren't as vibrant as I'm used to with Fuji Velvia film. I suppose I can just post-process the digital files, though. One of the nice things about having the digital SLR is that I can set the ISO speed at will on a per-shot basis. No need to carry an extra camera body loaded with fast film (as I used to do). This is especially good for hand-held macro photography. I set my camera to ISO 400 and 800, and chased around that frog. Now that I have the digital SLR, I will probably be doing even more macro photography.

Tiny frog

Another look at the frog

Frog on the rock

After enjoying the lake for over an hour, we headed back down the way we came. 25 minutes later, we ran into another group of 5 backpackers coming up. They asked us if anyone else was at the lake, and we told them about the others. Again, this group was just like the others in that it included kids (in the 7 to 11 year old range). Weaver Lake must be a popular destination for families with kids, because it's only a little over 2 miles to hike in. There are probably more kids who do this as a backpacking trip than Jennie Lake, which is a much tougher 5 miles in.

The view just above the creek crossing

After that, we didn't see anyone else on the trail. When we got back to the parking lot, it felt strange to be leaving. All the other cars in the lot were those of the backpackers. They'd all be enjoying the lake while we drove back to our campsite at Grant Grove. Maybe some day we'll return and do the trip we originally meant to do 5 years ago -- a backpacking loop with one night's stay at Jennie Lake, and one night at Weaver Lake.

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