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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   GET OUT OF TOWN
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Dive Into Shaver Lake
September, 2020 - Issue #192

Jumping into a mountain lake is one of the most under-appreciated joys of summer.
Leap from a sun-warmed boulder, hear your whoops of delight reverberate among towering pines before you splash into clear, clean snowmelt and resurface under a brilliant blue sky. What else matches that refreshment, freedom and sheer invigorating wildness?
When the opportunity for lake time arises, especially during this summer of uncertainty, it's something to savor. Our group - two families of six - did just that during a weeklong stay at Shaver Lake.
Situated at 5,600 feet in the Western Sierras just 50 miles northeast of Fresno, Shaver is an ideal getaway. It provides plentiful cabin and condo rental options for groups of all sizes and delivers the quintessential mountain lake experience - sandy beaches backed by shady pines, clear water and power boats pulling inner tubes and wakeboards.
Our first day on the lake found us swimming across a small cove toward a granite boulder that offered the perfect diving platform. It was high enough to offer good hang time, but still low enough to not scare the younger kids out of jumping. We took turns leaping and cannonballing until we were breathless from the cold water and climbing to the top of the rock.
The entire day was spent in and on the water, crisscrossing the lake in a rented pontoon boat. Both parents and kids took turns bouncing and laughing on an inner tube pulled in the ponderous craft's wake.
By the time we walked off the dock at Shaver Lake Marina at the end of a long, sunny day, everyone was starving. The Hungry Hut - with its simple but satisfying menu of burgers, fries, onion rings and shakes - proved a good match for our appetites.
While Shaver is a destination itself, it's also a basecamp for exploring the surrounding mountains and a multitude of outdoor options, from hiking and biking to off-roading, fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding on smaller lakes.
We hiked the Indian Pools Trail near Huntington Lake, about 20 miles from Shaver. The fairly flat trail starts at the far end of the China Peak Mountain Resort parking lot and winds along Big Creek toward a waterfall about 3 miles in.
"WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY for lake time arises, especially during this summer of uncertainty, it's something to savor."
With eight kids between the ages of 3 and 17 in our group, we didn't make it far. We stopped after 1.5 miles or so when we found what we came for - a deep pool at the base of smaller falls. We clambered over the slick, moss-covered boulders and splashed in the crisp water, rinsing off the heat of the day and the dust of the trail.
For a mellower lake experience, we spent another day at Huntington Lake. It's narrow but nearly five miles long and enjoys consistent afternoon breezes that make it popular for sailing. We were content to park our beach chairs in the shade on the north shore's day use area. With the nearby campgrounds still closed by COVID-19, the lake was uncrowded and we had a small cove to ourselves.
The kids waded into the water, dove off boat docks, played in the sand and kayaked, and one even managed to hook his first fish. Was his success due to the fact that a Fish and Wildlife truck had just dumped a fresh load of trout at the boat ramp? Perhaps that gave him a slight advantage, but it's more likely that he's simply a gifted young angler.
With school scheduled to resume earlier than normal, you might be considering one more getaway to splash in a lake and savor what's left of summer.
Don't hesitate. Go ahead and jump.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic.

Take the Plunge
Kings Cabin vrbo.com/1142803
Shaver Lake Marina (559) 841-5331 shaverlakemarina.com
Hungry Hut (559) 841-3222 insidescv.com/hungryhut
Indian Pools Trail insidescv.com/indianpools
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