Thursday, April 12, 2012

Soda lakes, Fallon Nevada

Soda Lakes

Big Soda and Little Soda Lake have a long history. They're one of the few places where you can find naturally occurring soda water. (From which baking soda was made by evaporating the water.) At one time mining operations were set up to mine the soda. As a result swimming in the lakes is like swimming in a bathtub full baking soda. Stories of its health benefits and it's ability to heal infections have lingered over the years. How true the stories are, we don't know.At various times throughout the year the lakes can be a little on the icky side due to algae. But if you're looking for something different this is it. You won't find fish in these lakes as the soda content is too high. Fogs and muskrats are about the only thing you'll find. For many years there have been discussions on turning the lakes into a park but no one has yet stepped forward with funds to do so. The soda content in Little Soda Lake has been dropping slowly over the years and some discussion about planting fish in one of the lakes have been discussed.

   As a kid I used to go with my sister and her friends late at night to go swimming in one of the scariest places to go swimming at night. Ghost stories of female babies being drowned in the lake were the usual fireside stories. And how if you were ever caught alone in the lake, the ghosts of drowned babies and children would swim up to grab you and pull you down. My own experience was being dared to go into the lake late at night, hearing a baby cry and then something touching me in the dark. My sister and her friends had quite the laugh as I came screaming out of the lake. You see muskrats which can be quite playful, also sound like crying babies. And when one of them decides to play tag with you, in the middle of the night, in a dark Lake, don't forget, it's just a story.

 Although it is not the easiest place to get to or to find it can be worth the trip. It is one of Fallon's hidden places. I do not recommend going by car as the roads are not maintained and in some places 4 wheel drive is recommended. Finding the lakes is the first obstacle you must overcome. The second is once you have found the lakes, getting down to them.  Unless you approach from the Southwestern side.   Be aware that some of the southern shores are bordered by private property . The lakes reside in the bottom of two volcanic vents and the northern and eastern shores are surrounded by a very high and dangerously steep embankments several hundred feet high. Do not attempt to enter lake from this side. An  un-maintained dirt road circles Big Soda but parts of the Western side may require four-wheel-drive. Especially in wet weather as parts of the road are adobe clay and it turns to wet slippery clay in the rain.

During duck-hunting season you may run into duck hunters who favor the area because of migrating geese  using the lakes as a stopover .


Big soda Lake.

Once you reach south west corner of the lake, there is a beach with black sand.There is some alkali and salt grass but offers a not too bad beach. There is no boat launch and no shade.  (Be aware that several feet out into the water there is a steep and dramatic drop-off!During the summer seasons the upper surface of the water can be quite warm while the deeper parts can be quite cold.There are NO bathrooms or other facilities so you might want to bring your own or limit your time at the lake. Please keep in mind this is a closed system. The lake is not fed by a stream, only groundwater and does not have a means of purging large quantities of pollution out of the lake. As a result it is more susceptible to pollution and anything put in the lake would stay in the lake a long time. All waste that you bring in with you should be removed when you leave. This is also probably one of the reasons why the lake has not been developed. Overuse of the lake might produce unwanted toxins and render the lake unusable by anyone, not to mention contamination of neighboring groundwater. Please use the lake with care and respect so it will be around for many generations to come.

1 comment:

  1. My mother took us kids to Soda Lake when we were living in Fallon. It was nice to get wet, but the algae that streams up from the bottom would touch our legs and nearly scare us to death! Still, it was amazing to find this large body of water smack in the middle of the desert. After swimming you would be very 'salty'. We were told the story about the dead babies...