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About half a mile northwest from the summit of Watson Peak is Watson Lake, 7900 feet. It is about 300 yards long by 250 yards broad, hence rudely oval in shape. While about fifty feet deep in the center, it shallows toward the edges, where lilies abound, and then becomes mere marsh. Practically it is surrounded by trees. Restocked with a variety of fish (trout) in large numbers each year, it is one of the best fishing lakes at the northern end of Lake Tahoe, and a most enjoyable day to the angler is to start early, take his lunch along, and spend the day there.
To those who are not anglers this same day can be spent in the quiet enjoyment of the trees, flowers, lake and sky.
The outlet from the lake is by Deer Creek, and thence into the Truckee not far from the site of the old mining-camp of Knoxville.
The return trip to Tahoe Tavern is made through a virgin forest, on a ridge between Watson Lake and the Truckee Valley, the trail having been outlined only about five years ago. Later the Forest Rangers considerably improved it, until now it is a very easy and comfortable trail to traverse. One notices here the especial “blaze” on the trees, of the rangers. It consists of a perpendicular parallelogram with a square above, thus
[Illustration: ‘Ranger’s Blaze’]
Wherever this blaze is found everybody in the region knows it for a ranger’s blaze, denoting a trail leading to a ranger’s cabin.
On this ride one has a wonderful illustration of the popular fallacy in woodcraft that moss is always found on the north side of the trees. Here the moss is mainly on the west. The fact is the moss is generally found on the side from which the rain-storms come, and here they are mainly from the south and southwest. A mile or so away on the trail to Watson’s Lake the moss is all on the southwest side of the trees.
Most of the trees here are red fir and mountain pine, some of them being of large size, and noble specimens.
A little further on a fine opening reveals Deer Creek, through which the waters of Watson Lake flow to the Truckee. It was nearing the hour of sunset when I reached this point, and the trees were glowing with flaming gold, reminding one of the pictures John Enneking, the wonderful Boston artist, so loves to paint, while below the water gleamed like dazzling diamonds.
Along here the side of the ridge below the trail seemed as if plowed into a number of rudely parallel lines. These were sheep-trails made as the sheep followed each other over the softer soil of the mountain side.
A mile and a half from Watson Lake we came to a telephone box. This was the signal box of the Forest Rangers connecting with Lake Tahoe, five miles away, Truckee, eight miles, Shaffer’s Mills, five miles and thence to Brockway, six miles. In the direction we were going it was but one mile to the ranger’s log-cabin in Round Meadow.