Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Pine Creek

Big Pine is a little town on Highway 395 just south of Bishop. There is a BIG pine tree at the camp ground on the north end of town. And that tree might be Big Pine's claim for frame IF you don't leave the highway. IF you do leave the highway, to the east of Big Pine are the White Mountains with the Bristle Cone Pine forest and to the west is Big Pine Creek Recreation Area and Glacier Lodge.

Sharon and Evie headed south for home on Thursday morning; I also headed south but turned east out of Big Pine. The Glacier Lodge road runs eight miles from Big Pine to the site of Glacier Lodge which burned down several years ago. There's still a little store, a rustic rv park and the Big Pine campground.

I was meeting a friend at the Glacier Lodge campground. (Note to self...next time stay in Big Pine campground!).

My site was about half way up the hill. Picnic table to the side. Electric hook-up that caused my surge guard to cut the power regularly....not too high, but too low. It paid for itself this trip! My view out the back doors of van.

After getting settled in I went for a walk to check out any adverse effects of 7500 foot elevation.
Previous days at Sabrina and in the White Mountains were clearly beneficial, I felt great. The trail head was a across the creek and around the corner. This is the bridge over Big Pine Creek into Glacier Lodge and campground.

Spring flowers are still blooming at this elevation.

So we made a plan......an easy hike, none of us were into climbing the 2000 feet to the first of a series of 7 lakes and then Palisade Glacier (southern most glacier in Sierra Nevada range).....just an easy fun day.......shortly after sunrise we were on the trail.

There are two choices......the South Fork of Big Pine Creek to Willow Lake or the North Fork Trail to the lake loop and the glacier. We picked the North Fork trail that passes the First through Seventh Lakes and eventually to the glacier at 14,000 feet.

The trail begins as a series of switch backs up a forested hill following Big Pine Creek. First Falls near the trail head.

We crossed the creek again and began a long climb up an exposed slope. Our trail is not the big one near the trees, but the second one up the hill.

Looking up to a forested cut in the mountain to Second Falls. The trail crosses over the granite about in the middle of the falls and then follows the creek for a beautiful meander through the woods.

Looking back at the exposed slope we climbed I liked how the trails intersected. Ours was the horizontal one. The other was almost straight up to eventually arrive at Miller Creek. Don't know how far!

The creeks in this area are more like rivers! Maybe 30-40 cubic feet per second.

Columbines and wild roses were happily blooming along this stretch.

Also these very tall purple flowers. My new field guide is out in the van. Will try to add a real name soon.

Pretty soon we were in an aspen grove. The endless variety of this area was fun and also interesting because we didn't know the trail.

The forest service trail guide mentioned Lon Chaney's cabin along the way. This was the only one we saw and it is currently a Wilderness Ranger outpost. By the way, we are hiking in the John Muir Wilderness. A big buck jumped out of the brush across the creek while we took a break here.

It was about 1 pm, we were thinking we were very close to First Lake so decided not to stop for lunch. That was a mistake as I will explain soon.

Lilies and swallowtail butterfly.

The sky is soooo blue in the high country.

We hiked on another hour or so, all up hill, all beautiful, surely First Lake was just ahead! So much for our leisurely walk. It's been several hours, a 2000 foot climb in maybe 4 miles. A glimpse of a hiker up ahead climbing yet another rise convinced us that it was time for a lunch break and to head back. We would save the lakes for another day when we actually intended to do that hike!

This is a shot of the switch backs below Second Falls. You can see a bit more of the trail in the lower right corner of picture.

The color of the snags against the blue sky was amazing.

Another gorgeous flower without a name. I bought the new Law's Field Guide in Bishop. It's really excellent if I would just use it!

On the way up the trail I didn't notice the straw flowers on this slope. They were in all shades of yellow, gold, orange, rust.

This is the South Fork canyon (you remember, we chose the North Fork).

Coming down was way faster than going up, less than two hours and we were within sight of camp. The old Glacier Lodge would have been set right in the center of this tiny clearing. My van is parked in the trees along the far edge. In the valley beyond is Big Pine and in the far distance are the White Mountains. This was a fantastic, spectacular, glorious hike, even if we didn't see the lakes! I love these mountains!

Eastern Sierra

A few weeks ago I met two new friends in Bishop to camp and explore the area. Because I am still getting to know my Roadtrek I was a bit worried about the drive over Tioga Pass, but no problems, all fine, even the ride down the other side to Lee Vining.

So we got all settled in our sites at Brown's Town RV and campground the first afternoon. Nice view of the mountains in the distance. And made a plan to go to the Bristle Cone pines the next day.

Sharon tows a Jeep Liberty behind RV 'Hope' and graciously drove us all over the mountains for the next three days!

At the Bristle Cones we did the Discovery Loop hike and just soaked in these spectacular trees.

Lucky for us we caught the ranger talk, she told to be sure and notice the wood on the ground that can be as old as 11,000 years!

Keough's Hot Springs is a few miles south of Bishop on 395.

Built in 1819, the pool is longer most new pools, and the minerals in the water make swimming really fun, kind of like salt water. The sprinkler is to cool down the temp of the water. Just behind the sprinkle is the REALLY warm water in a smaller pool for soaking.

Along the Highway 395 corridor, the creeks flow from watershed areas (basins) in the mountains, with developed recreation areas, campgrounds and trail heads along the 10 miles or so to the end of the roads at elevations of 7000 feet or so. It's easy to quickly get to very high elevations. Our second day we explored the Bishop Creek area. There are several small dams along the creek owned and operated by Southern California Edison.

(Aside to former Watershed Keepers.....I talked to one employee on the dam doing a measurement with a piezometer.....his position was 'hydrographer'!)

These mountains are the top of the Sabrina Lake watershed.

And this is Sabrina Lake. Many fisher people. And lots of trails to high country lakes that look like good day hikes.

This is North Lake. The colors in image don't do justice to how beautiful these mountains are in real life!

Wild currents were blooming all over the mountains. Notice the small leaves....over at Big Trees the leaves are much bigger. Also noticed the back packers weren't carrying bear cylinders, so am guessing they aren't such a problem in this area.

Looking down from road to North Lake to little settlement called Aspendell and a peek of South Lake.

It was 15 miles out of Bishop to Sabrina Lake at the top. Several campgrounds along the way. Bishop Creek is more like a river, even in August, still running with snow melt from the mountains.

Our get together went by way too fast, I can't wait to go back!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trees of Mystery

On the way up the coast we didn't have time to stop at the Trees of Mystery. Paul and Babe were waiting for us this time. The kids wanted to ride the Sky Trail. I wanted to do the Wilderness Trail.

This redwood forest is so different from our isolated pockets of "big trees". And these are really, really tall!

Tiny pink flowers.

OK, so the tickets for the gondola ride up the mountain were purchased. I left the gang waiting in line. Uh oh, they look a little worried!

The Wilderness Trail is actually a walk down the mountain from the top of the Sky Trail ride.
At the bottom there is a sign that says to check in with the gondola attendant before starting up the trail. The gift shop, Paul and Babe are a bit touristy, so while I didn't take it too seriously, I did let the attendant know I was walking up to the top.

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but turns out, they weren't kidding. It's a hard 1 mile, 1000 foot climb and took me most of an hour. Only six switchbacks resulted in a very steep climb. I was glad for the ropes in places.

Another tiny member of the forest family.

There is a glimpse of the ocean from the Observation Deck at the top. No blue sky for contrast so no pic. I was pretty tired so decided to ride down. At the bottom the attendant gave me a thumbs up; I guess he was keeping track!

That night we found the perfect stop......campsites AND cabins at the Emerald Forest. The kids and I set up our camp while Linda settled in her cabin for a few hours of respite. We had purchased the fixings for S'Mores for Carter Lake. We got some fire wood at the office and spent a lovely evening sitting around the campfire. This night was one of the highlights of our trip and seems like a good place to end.......

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wildlife Safari

It was really hot when we left home, 110 plus temps. We were loving the cool weather at the coast, but alas, it was time to turn inland. Next on our agenda was the Wildlife Safari. It's in the hills outside of Roseburg. We arrived in town with the record northwest heat wave and felt right at home. A quick change of venue to a motel with pool and everybody was happy.

The Wildlife Safari is a drive through. Many interesting animals, most seemed content, although that could have been due to the ridiculously hot day!

My favorites were the zebras. They shared many acres with the giraffes. This mare was leading the herd on a wild run because the keepers had just been by to shoot a vaccination dart into her rear end!

All the Black Bears were in the water, this one pretending to be a sea otter.

G favorites were the cheetahs because they are the fastest animals on earth. The Wildlife Safari is highly respected around the world for it's successful breeding program. This is an amazing animal. We weren't really so close, it's the zoom on the camera.

Five year old Frank was waiting to take G and S for a ride around the compound. He was really friendly, let us pet him, that wiry looking hair on the top of his head was soft!


After several hours at the Safari, it was back to the pool. Roseburg hit a record 111 degrees that day! We watched smoke raising and planes flying from the pool. And were disappointed the next morning to find the highway to Crater Lake closed due to the forest fire. It wasn't hard to decide to head back to the coast. We stayed again at Gold Beach. S and I took and early morning walk across the Patterson Bridge over the Rogue River.

We were all happy to be back in the cool fog that hung along the coast most of that day, lifting just often enough to keep us interested with glimpses of the ocean.