Fallen Leaf Lake, California

A first glimpse of the beauty of America’s National Parks

We arrived at the camp ground late. Really late. It was pitch black (that’s a recurring theme in our camping trips – we always seem to arrive in the dark!!) and we had no idea if we were in the right place. Our tent was put up by the headlights of the car. 

We were driving through from San Francisco to Yosemite. Our first time camping properly in the USA, we had stopped off to buy a tent and supplies. We ended up in Kmart, buying a ‘backyard’ tent and sleeping bags, one of which turned out to be child sized! Having only a couple of hours until we had to get up and continue the drive (not to mention being unable to see anything at all in the darkness), we crawled into our sleeping bags (those of us who could fit!) and got some much needed rest. 

As the morning broke, we discovered just how beautiful our temporary home was. As breakfast views go, the lake was stunning. Tired and bleary-eyed, we sat on the logs by the lake looking out at the vast expanse of trees lineing the shore. 

It was our first glance at the beauty hidden in America’s national parks and we were absolutely speechless. 

Haunting, Lonely & Beautiful

We chose one of the rainiest days of our trip to drive out to Moraine Lake. It had been sunny in the morning and we had taken the opportunity to head up Sulphur Mountain where we had amazing views (as long as you turned your back to the coffee shop and huge visitors centre – you can read about that in a forthcoming post). By the time we got back down the mountain and set off to Moraine Lake, it was drizzling and quite a bit cooler.

This change in weather had resulted in fewer people around the lake, giving us a better view once we arrived. A huge rock scramble to one side of the lake provided a good vantage point, but instead we trundled around the edge of the water, sticking to the cover of the trees.

At the mouth of the lake, many logs floated side by side, creating a false path stretching across the water. A few ripples broke the surface of the water as the rain hit the surface. The quietness of the lake, coupled with the rain, created a lonely atmosphere. The backdrop of the mountains provided a stunning frame for the lake and prevented the vibe from getting too morose.

Whilst waiting to get that ‘perfect picture’ of the lake, I watched a older Chinese family try to orchestrate several children and a couple of older family members into the best photo position, suggesting poses and shouting for smiles. This took some time and it was good to watch them taking such care in the capture of a family photograph in this beautiful spot. As everyone aligned and showed their best holiday smiles, the older female of the group let out the biggest sneeze, surprising herself and the rest of the family, right as the camera clicked. The group (including us and those around us) descended into fits of laughter and a better, more natural photograph was captured. I’d love to see how that picture turned out – and if the people who’s mantlepiece the photo ended up on realise just how much effort was put into its creation.