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Published: October 25th 2006
In August of 2005, I needed a getaway. It was just a normal 2 day weekend like any other, but this time I had tremendous motivation. And I needed it, Florence lake is just 150 miles from Fresno- but the drive takes almost 3 hours one way. I left Fresno early saturday morning. Within an hour you reach Shaver Lake, a forested Gem at 5000 feet. Soon the grade increases as you reach Huntington Lake and Sierra Summit Ski Resort. Here the road turns into a one lane, twisting track that winds its way over 9000+ foot Kaiser pass, and down the other side of the mountains into the glorious San Joaquin River drainage. Kaiser Pass is accesible only in summer, and usually opens in early May most years. Soon 13,000 foot peaks come into view, as does distant Edison and Florence Lakes. All of the lakes on this drive- Shaver, Huntington, Edison and Florence- are part of So. Cal Edison and company's water and power project. I can't say I mind! Here, the highest of the Sierra's and teh steepest of canyon's is still just as it should be. Low visitation, hundreds of miles of roads and trails, untouched wilderness,
boating, fishing, backpacking, climbing...
The Sierra National Forest is everything between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. The wilderness areas of the Sierra NF unite the parks, and along with other wilderness areas create something unheard of elswhere in the world- a connected belt of mountain wilderness over 200 miles long. The longest roadless strip of wilderness starts at Tioga Pass Road and runs south until the end of the Golden Trout Wilderness, 150 miles distant. No cars, no pavement. Just mountains, animals and plants protected forever from engines, wheels and roads.
All of the major lakes(Shaver, Huntington, Wishon, Courtright, Edison, Florence) are surrounded by National Forest, and once over Kaiser Pass you enter the Ansel Adams Wilderness. In fact, this is the only road in California that goes over 10 miles deep into Wilderness Area. The roads to the lakes are not inluded in the wilderness boundry, so in effect this creates access to deep wilderness areas by car.
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