LEE VINING — We are sad to hear about yet another historic venue falling victim to the very heavy snows over the Sierra this past winter.
The operators of the Saddlebag Lake Resort on the east side of Tioga Pass arrived at the site on July 2 to discover 10 to 12 feet of snow at the General Store. They felt the best they could hope for was to be able to open by mid-August.
However, today they posted this message on their Facebook page;
“It is with a heavy heart that we say – we will not be opening the General Store and Cafe at Saddlebag Lake this year. There is too much snow damage and we are working to see how quickly we can repair the damage.
“Until further notice, the Water Taxi and Boat Rentals will not be operating as well. We are sorry for not being able to take care of our friends and SBL family this season! We will keep you updated. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.”
Saddlebag Lake Resort is known for its remote location and breath-taking views of beautiful lakes and majestic mountains.
Located just outside Yosemite National Park within the Inyo National Forest, the rustic resort is a favorite destination for those out for a day of hiking in the 20 Lakes Basin, or wanting to enjoy the peace and quiet while fishing on the lake.
Those who make the resort an annual sojourn are distressed to hear the news.
Facebook fan Steve Osterberg even volunteered to help.
“Very sad to hear of the damage. I will be up there in the next few weeks, would be happy to take a day and shovel if that would help. Like the Tioga pass Resort, the Sierra will not be the same this year.”
A bit of history on the resort:
Saddlebag Lake sits on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada at 10,087 ft.
In 1919, the Southern Sierra Power Company built the dam and even today, uses the water from Saddlebag Lake to generate power in Lee Vining. The water then flows to Mono Lake or it is diverted to the L.A. Aqueduct System.
In the early 1900s, the first cabin was built at Saddlebag and was used as a trapper cabin for the area. Since that time, the original cabin has been refurbished and modernized by several owners.
The Saddlebag Lake Cafe and General Store was built in 1947. Its features include a fireplace made from local rocks such as tungsten, black and red obsidian, crystal, and quartz. It also displays a high ceiling which was hand burnt to give its unique look.
In the Twenty-Lakes basin north of Saddlebag Lake, there was a tungsten mine actively mined by the Hess family of Lee Vining. The mine was closed in 1962.
One of the cabins used as living quarters is presently used as a Forest Service wilderness ranger headquarters. The windows and siding from two of the mine buildings were incorporated into the resort storage building. If you are standing at the lower Conness Lake looking toward Wasco Lake, you can still see the remnants of the water flume that furnished water for the mine in the canyon.
Sawmill Canyon, the canyon seen coming up the Saddlebag Road, was home to a sawmill which furnished lumber for Bennettville. Currently, the Carnegie Institute uses the canyon for a high altitude plant and shrub research and experiment station.
Saddlebag Lake Resort has had its share of making Sierra history. Originally built by the Gardisky family in the 1900s, the resort was later owned by the Berglund family, who sold it to the Grovers in 1960. The Grovers operated the concession for 26 years. In 1986, they semi-retired and sold the resort to Don and Lois Stennerson, who ran the business until 1997.
Saddlebag Lake Resort is currently owned by Richard and Carmen Ernst of Modesto, California.
Visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Saddlebag-lake-Resort-156958104329808