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Asa Lake

Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Links:

July 3rd, 2003

4.2 miles
585 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:24

Rating: 6/10

Directions: Take Highway 4 east toward Bear Valley. Continue past Bear Valley onto undivided section for about 14 miles. Turn right onto Road 8N01, signed for Highland Lakes campground. Follow road for 5 miles (last 4 miles are unpaved). Turn left into parking lot signed for Gardner Meadow Trailhead, just north of Lower Highland Lake.   View Driving Map


There were just three other cars in the large dirt lot when I arrived around 3:30pm. Just as I started off on the trail, some backpackers and day hikers exited the trail. Those were the only people I'd see on the trail.

I immediately crossed a small creek. Further on, the trail would be muddy in places, but nothing that required immersing my boots. The trail traverses the side of a small mountain, past small patches of snow. Indian paintbrush are prevalent. Further on, there are lots of mule ears.

View looking north

The forest opens up a bit to allow views to the north, and I stopped to take some pictures before continuing a brief climb. After reaching the top, I took the left fork down the hill. To the right I could see part of Upper Gardner Meadow. The trail enters the forest. Eventually, it emerges into a large meadow. A creek meanders on the left, cutting a steep 5-foot deep trench. The trail goes through the meadow. As you can imagine, it is muddy in places.

Meadow

As you pass through the meadow, don't forget to look behind you, where you'll be rewarded with views of the surrounding mountains. After a mile from the the first trail intersection, I turned left to head toward Asa Lake. To the right I could see glimpses of a yellow flower-filled meadow to the right. After climbing a bit through the forest, I shortly came to yet another trail intersection. I took the left fork which dead-ends at the southern end of Asa Lake.

Asa Lake

Asa Lake is a pretty little lake, surrounded by forest on all sides. There's not much in the way of a shore, except where the trail enters. All of this didn't matter much to me at the time, though, because I soon found myself fighting a torrent of mosquitoes. They surrounded my tripod, my pack (which I'd taken off), and of course, me. I was wearing long sleeves and long pants, but they still attacked me. If I stood still for 15 seconds, I'd soon find about 50 mosquitoes swarming my pant legs. A handful landed on my shoulders every few seconds before I swatted them away. No matter how much DEET I apply to my face and hands, they always seem to go for the shoulders. They couldn't bite through my fleece, but nevertheless I didn't feel like staying long.

Asa Lake

After quickly gathering my things, I bounded down the trail as fast as I could. I retraced my steps. Near the trailhead I noticed some ponderosa pines in the beautiful afternoon light. In my mind, the color is almost (if not just as) pretty as sequoia bark.

See the columns way up there?

By the time I returned to the parking lot, there was just one other car in the lot. If not for the mosquitoes, I'd probably give this hike a 7 rating. As it is, I'm tempted to give it a 5, but maybe if you go after mid-August, you won't have the mosquito problem that I did. Going mid-day may help, as well.


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