Leo, and I decided to head to the Scotts Lake area for a one night snow trip. Parking was more crowded than we thought it would be at the trailhead right off of highway 88 between Carson Pass and Hope Valley. The trailhead is located 1.5 miles west of the junction with highway 89. Scotts Lake sits under Waterhouse Peak. Scotts Lake can be traveled to from Big Meadow trailhead off highway 89 as well. See a trip in the future from that side.
There is a marked ski trail but we decided to simply head straight up the mountainside. Elevation gain is pretty quick and with snow shoes and a heavy pack you start breathing hard much to quick. We got a late start on this trip as you can tell by the angle of the sun in this picture. According to the map elevation at the trailhead is around 7100 ft and at the lake is 8035 ft. We ended up somewhere in the middle.
There are some gorgeous views from this trip. If you are skilled and brave enough to make it to the top of Waterhouse Peak there are (what I am told) great views of Lake Tahoe.
With the sun setting and the temperature dropping we decied that setting up camp was a good idea.
Here I am with the rainfly over me while we were setting up the tent. I use my Sierra Design Omega tent for snow camping. This was the first real backpacking tent that I purchased. It is light enough to take on regular trips but it is too warm for most summer trips. It has been tested in some heavy snow, wind, and Santa Cruz Mountains rain and has stood up to everything nature has thrown at it so far.
We had a quiet night. If you have been camping in the snow then you know most nights are pretty quiet, especially with active snowfall. We did a traditional snow kitchen and melted snow for water.
Here is our kitchen the next morning. We had cut out a few cubbies for storage overnight but other than that it was a pretty standard ktichen. THere is a bench across from a counter to cook at. We had a gorgeous view from the kitchen that evening and the next morning.
We packed it up and headed back. This is a quick and easy trailhead if you want to simply get out in the snow and try out your skills. Being close to the highway lets you rest assured if anything goes wrong you are only a quick downhill hike to the car. Be careful if you have to park on the East side of the highway. People travel very fast on this road and with a heavy pack and insulated boots you don't travel fast (at least I don't). I decided on this trip that I would hike to this lake again in the summer.