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Summertime hot spot Pinecrest Lake turns into winter wonderland

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Posted: Friday, January 23, 2009 10:00 pm

Destination: Pinecrest Lake

Overall rating: **** (out of four)

Rating for kids: ****

Rating for seniors: **

What's the attraction: You may have enjoyed Pine Crest Lake during the summer, when visitors water ski, swim, hike and camp. But during the other half of the year, Pinecrest transform into a winter wonderland.

What to do: Whether you just want a beautiful day's drive or you want to sled down mountains of white powder, the Pinecrest Lake has something for everyone on these cold days.

The day was sunny - and even warmer than Lodi had been during the week. Just as we were beginning to lose hope in finding snow, we saw the first piles lining the freeway. First, there was only a little dirty sludge. And then the entire mountain side turned perfect white. The closer we got to the lake, the deeper the snow became. Icicles hung from cabin porches. People traded in tennis shoes for boots. And we even had to turn on four-wheel drive.

The lake looked like glass with thin layers of ice floating on top. The surrounding mountains were filled with trees and spotted with snow piles. Near the lake, the snow level on the ground almost reached the tops of picnic tables where I imagined families eating hot dogs and watermelon during the summer. Walking through the snow was a challenge, as we sunk to our knees with every step. We decided we'd return when there was less powder and we'd bring sleds and the dogs (though I don't think they're allowed in the recreational area).

Overall, it was a good day.

Location: Pinecrest Lake is located 30 miles east of Sonora on Highway 108. For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/stanislaus/visitor/pinecrest.shtml">www.fs.fed.us/r5/stanislaus/visitor/pinecrest.shtml.

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