Buck Island Lake Has No Fish
After spending 30+ hours of the last month on a plane, I wanted to do an overnight backpack trip with minimal fuss and maximum relaxation. I wanted to go somewhere with a relatively easy hike, nice scenery, fishing, campfires, and swimming. I also wanted flexibility in the number of people and time, so I didn’t want to go anywhere requiring a complicated permit.
The destination was Buck Island Lake in El Dorado National Forest. Buck Island Lake sits along the trail just outside the Desolation Wilderness boundary, keeping it free from the Wilderness’s permit and other restrictions. The downside is that the Rubicon 4×4 trail runs along the other side of the lake. To be honest, that is one of the reasons I chose this lake – we had a potentially large group of people going on this trip, and I didn’t want to be ‘that group’ that disturbs the wilderness experience of others. I figured that no one camped at the same lake as the Rubicon folks would be expecting a peaceful night in the wilderness and I wouldn’t feel guilty if we stayed up a bit late chatting and laughing around the campfire.
The hike to Buck Island Lake is very easy – about 6 miles with 600 ft of elevation gain. The second half is on an exposed old road and covered in ankle-rolling rock, so I spent more time watching my feet than the view. It was a hot weekend, too, so the exposure was a bit annoying. When we got to the lake I was eager to jump in, and thankfully it was a perfect temperature for a swim.
Some of our group stuck around camp to fish, and the rest of us hiked around the lake to check out the dam, some geocaches, and the Rubicon trail. It ended up being a 2 hour adventure since much of it was bushwhacking, but it was really worth it. We chatted with some jeepers, found a few caches, walked the Rubicon (faster on foot than by vehicle – we caught up to a group driving it), saw some beautiful cascades and waterfalls between lakes, and got a few scratches and mosquito bites while bushwhacking through the chaparral around a lagoon that wasn’t on the map.
My research prior to this trip led me to believe that there were lots of big brown trout in Buck Island, but no one caught a thing. Laurent fished all day without a bite. I didn’t get a nibble. David caught one rainbow up at Rockbound Lake, but nothing in Buck Island. We did get to watch a sierra gartersnake eat a small fish, so at least someone got a good dinner.
Sunday was an even hotter day, so I took a breakfast swim before we packed up and headed out. I thought it was hot in the Sierra – it was 108 as we drove through Sacramento on the way home. I wanted to turn around and head back to the Sierra for a swim.
Thanks to Laurent, Jeff, Ben, Dave, and David for a fun weekend!