What Makes a Great Lake

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rlown
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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by rlown » Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:54 pm

Hanging Basket.








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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by TehipiteTom » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:07 pm

Have to agree that Phoenix2000's list is pretty comprehensive. I'll just add a few things I happen to like (some of them more or less mutually exclusive--I do like different kinds of lakes!):
  • In the roughly 9500 - 10500 zone (lower further north, higher further south), where trees are sparse but not altogether absent.
  • On a bench above a huge valley, so you have expansive views of distant peaks (e.g., the lake SE of Ward Mountain or the lakes NE of Granite Pass).
  • Big meadowy expanses around the lake (e.g., Rock Island Lake or Matthes Lake).
    Islands.
  • Convoluted shoreline with lots of little bays (e.g., Red Devil Lake).
  • Long, narrow, fjord-like shape (e.g., Lake 10600 in Kid Lakes basin).
  • Wide-open basin with other lakes nearby (e.g., Lakes Basin or Pioneer Basin).
  • And solitude, solitude, solitude (e.g., most lakes that are a ways off the trail).

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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by SSSdave » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:46 pm

Image

A bit different than Maverick's 2009 thread listing lakes as OP's question is WHY. I value lakes most by photography aesthetics then to a lesser extent how fun a lake is. Remoteness or how well known a lake matters little nor campsites since I rarely choose well-used trail and lake side spots.

Although some commented on annoying insects, especially mosquitoes, at most lakes there are periods when mosquitoes are dense when snow melts around nearby terrain through times when they have all died late season. Even during peak mosquito season, lakes in barren open to breezes glaciated granite landscapes like Hyatt Lake in Desolation will have less mosquitoes mid day when winds blow than nearby lakes with forested or meadow shores. Regardless mosquitoes rarely are important to this person that knows how to protect my skin unless they are so dense they get in my lens shots as little dark spots haha.

In the Sierra there are few lakes even late summer that have warmed up enough to the point one can actually remain in the water more than short periods. Generally shallow lower elevation lakes warm up more than deeper high elevation lakes with a key reason, up canyon afternoon winds pushing water against far shores causes up welling of cold deep water. One is more likely to find better swimming late summer in river pools that often have interesting features like deep pot holes, plunge pools, and fascinating water smoothed surfaces and big rounded stones. In any case one of the best lakes late August is Kibbie Lake at just 6.5k that also has some of the highest cliffs of any lake to jump off into deep water. Kibbie also has a fine population of rainbow trout evolved from some of the earliest plants in the late 19th century. And what joy in watching an osprey grab a big Kibbie trout. Another nearby lake I haven't actually swam in that would be endless fun is Many Island Lake at 7.3k per image above.

As someone that originally backpacked for fishing, I still value lakes with fun trout fishing, and large fish have a way of adding special excitement to that game. As someone that learned to catch trout using small dry flies like #16 Adams, I also value lakes where large trout tend to top water feed. Thus the growing excitement of hunting shorelines where just a few fish are taking bugs and noticing commotion of a large fish, then the game of presentation where one thinks a fish may be going next, and finally the moment it sucks in one's offering that takes skill to see and timing to hook.

But as an old guy with a camera, now value the beauty of lakes most. And with color photography a mix of colors is better than few, strongly saturated colors better than dull, a mix of fascinating shapes and elements both near and far, more interesting, and the geometry of lines and shapes of frame elements important. And that beauty is often greatest during early mornings while air is still reflecting surrounding magnificent landscapes. The the beauty of a lake is not only its lake waters but also its surrounding elements. Oh what fun exploring shorelines of unfamiliar lakes seeking out most aesthetic near shore features for foregrounds. The most colorful complementing features one may find are wildflowers. Some of the most interesting background features are craggy and unusual shaped peaks and clouds. But even midday when breezes cause wavy water surfaces, there can be much beauty looking down in clear clean deep waters when it absorbs wonderful deep blue sky color.

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nvted
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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by nvted » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:45 pm

Many great comments already noted. I would add small islands or boulders poking above the surface, or interesting peninsulas of granite projecting into the water. That very much echoes SSSdave's keen observations on shapes and elements. Cascade type inlets always pique interest, and add the sounds to go with the sights. Dramatic overlooks to areas below and/or the lake interest me, especially when allowing for good sunrise or sunset light. Gotta have some cool peaks and cirque type rock madness, as WD and others have said. I also enjoy the grassy fringed lakes, especially towards fall as the colors turn golden.

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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by TahoeJeff » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:31 pm

Big fish!!!
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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by sekihiker » Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:53 am

tlsharb wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:28 pm
then there are lakes I really love (like Blackrock) that no one ever mentions
Well, Blackrock Lake is not on a trail, so hardly anyone has been there. Last time I was there, there was an ancient wooden sign to mark it. Most of those signs have disappeared in the forest - worn out or stolen.

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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by sekihiker » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:05 am

I want to be able to get to the water without going through grass or mud, I prefer that it's not in dense forest, small ones are preferable [but some large ones like Lake 10, 232 near Mt Reinstein are really nice too], in a cirque with great views, nice flat spots nearby, far off trail - there are so many of them and that's what makes the Sierra such a special place.

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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by tlsharb » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:39 am

It is true that Blackrock isn't on a trail, but it sure is an easy jaunt over to it from Disappointment. That is what truly astounds me.....go a half mile off trail and you enter the land of solitude. I'm good with that. Speaking of signs, last year I was up at Bullet Lake in Bench Valley and came upon a sign nailed to a tree. It looked ancient...kind of wonder if at some point most of those named lakes had a Forest Service sign on a tree nearby.

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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by sekihiker » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:40 pm

tlsharb wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:39 am
kind of wonder if at some point most of those named lakes had a Forest Service sign on a tree nearby.
I think so. Crabtree Lake used to have a sign next to it, but now it's gone. A few years ago, I visited Chinquapin Lakes which are west of the divide from Nelson Lakes and there was a sign there. There was little evidence of recent visits to any of the Chinquapin Lakes.

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Re: What Makes a Great Lake

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:54 pm

Having a big craggy rock behind a lake doesn't hurt (Temple Crag/2nd Lake, Crown Point/Barney Lake, Cathedral Peak & Lake, Ediza & Minarets, Arrow/Bench, etc).
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