Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Garfield Point Hike - Crater Lake

To escape the smoke from wildfires I headed north to Crater Lake arriving there about mid-day with plenty of time for a hike.  From my last visit I knew I wanted to do Garfield Point and the Watchman Trail.  There were so few visitors in the park that I was able to grab a shady spot for my van across from the gift shop.  It's a short walk from my parking spot to the trailhead behind the Hotel but the view is so spectacular it took me a long time to get started!  Finally headed up the hill I looked back at Wizard Island.

Straw flowers were growing in the dry rocks.

Looking up the mountain I had my eye on what I though was Garfield Point.

There were many switchbacks going up this section.  I would graciously stop for the few people coming down because it gave me a chance to rest!

By now I realized this wasn't going to be the top, but I soon forgot that when I crested the ridge to find a view of The Phantom Ship!

And then.....while I standing there just soaking it all in.....a rock side began!

It only took me a minute to recover and I zoomed in on the dust that looks like a rainbow!

Nothing like adrenaline to kick a hike back into high gear.  Farther up the trail I found the last of the summer wildflowers clinging to the cliffs and bees working their little hearts out before the snow flies.

I had passed the last hikers way before the rock slide and now had the whole mountain to myself; except for a raptor that decided to join me.  (I'll post those pics on My Bird List).  It was the most amazing thing.  He stayed with me at the top, all the way back down the trail and finally landing in a tree near the Hotel back at the trail head, contentedly hopping from branch to branch until a couple came by and scared him away!

Finally, the last section of trail;  around the hill on a gentle climb and I would be there.

Almost completely bald on top, one lone pine stood with a sign warning that it was being treated for bark beetles.  I hope it wins the battle!

Heading back down the mountain I'm surprised I didn't fall flat on my face it was so hard to keep my eyes on the trail.

At the top of the last set of switchbacks there is an old foundation;  didn't see anything explaining what it was for but whatever, it had the same old boring view.

After hanging out with my raptor friend, I snapped a pic of the hotel; jumped in my van and headed to campsite at Mazama Village.  It was a great day. : )

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Harris Harvester

Along the highway, between Tule Lake and Klamath Falls,  this Harris Harvester is displayed by a local rancher in  coordination with the local Rotary.  It was manufactured in Stockton. How cool is that?  (Couldn't help but think of an acquaintance who owns a foundry  there now and wonder if any connection to this historic harvester).

Wonderful opportunities for closeup photos, but the highway was busy and I didn't have a place to stay that night. Time to move on.......

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sycamore Grove (Red Bluff)

Forest Service campground, Sycamore Grove, in the Red Bluff Recreation Area is my favorite overnight stop on Highway 99 in Northern California.  Slightly over 4 hours from home and just a few minutes off the freeway at the Highway 36 exit, it's first come first serve and just about perfect.

These pics are of the Sycamore trees in the day use area near the Sacramento River.

There are several miles of trail in the Rec Area.  One with a view of Mt Shasta on a clear day!  (If you need internet there's a McDonalds near the highway with great wifi in the parking lot :).

If all that wasn't enough there is a amazing old Diversion Dam on the river next to the campground.  When it was in service it was not so nice as 8 humongous pumps ran 24/7 through the summer to divert water from the Sacramento River into the irrigation canal system.  Just last summer, 2011, the pumps were silent and the gates opened forever when a new, and very much better for salmon run, diversion system was put into service.  The woman who operates the Visitor Center was the Information Officer for the construction of the new system and was happy to tell me all about it!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cleo's Bath

Our favorite hike around Pinecrest Lake passes the trail junction to a very famous swimming hole on the Stanislaus River, Cleo's Bath.  The summer before last I tried to find it, but the river was a raging torrent and I figured I missed Cleo's because it was under 10-20 feet of water.  Well, no.  Here's the rest of the story.....

After an early stop at Andy's in Miwok to fortify ourselves with Cinnamon Rolls for the day ahead,  we (Super Nephews S and G and me) arrived at Pinecrest.  It was a lovely morning hike around the lake to the trail junction to Cleo's bath.  Not far along we met a group of backpackers heading up the trail.  Like a complete dummy I told them I had missed Cleo's on my hike the summer before.  They said, no, the trail ENDS at Cleo's.
That should have been my first clue, but we continued happily on our way.  Intrepid explorers!

The river is barely running now,  waiting for winter to be replenished.  G led the way around many wind falls.  The trail is mostly a gradual climb. Ummm,  I remember all of this,  but where is Cleo's?  Not far ahead the river flows over a steep mountain.  When it's really roaring the water falls are visible way down the trail.  I said to S,  Cleo's can't be up there, I'm not climbing that mountain!

The trail guides warn to expect some boulder hopping.  I assumed that meant 'horizonal' boulder hopping, as in from the trail over to the river. No problem!   What soon became clear even to me was the the boulder hopping would be VERTICAL!

This was fast becoming a great adventure to S and G; not so much for me, but there was no turning back.  G scrambled ahead and then waited to help me up the many crevices that passed for a trail.

Lucky for us there were strategically placed ducks (piles of rocks) to mark the way; along with some faded green spray painted arrows on the granite. (I know, it's bad to spray paint granite; still I was grateful!).  We climbed for what seemed like an hour, but in hind sight was probably only 15 or 20 minutes  to a table with a great view back to Pinecrest. (It's that tiny blue dot in the middle of the pic!)

Finally there was the trail to the river.   As expected, it was very low with virtually no flow.  The green arrow (only appropriate!) marks what appears to be the normal water line.  It was clear this would be a spectacular swimming hole earlier in the season.  (That's Pinecrest again in the distance).

We weren't disappointed; it was fun to see the granite formations that would normally be under water.  Looking up stream across the pool the water backs up into a narrow canyon.

Above the little canyon, the water falls steeply creating 'holes' in the granite as it swirls through.  Most rivers in the high Sierra have these same holes and are the best fun to sit in on a hot day!  And we even found a tiny trickle of water.

After some more exploring and a near miss with my walking stick (and G!) sliding off the slick rock, it was time to test the water.  S sat on a rock dangling his feet, while G dived right into the pool.  It was cold!

I'm wondering what the water temps are earlier in the season.  It's down in the 30s at night now, so am guessing that's why the water in these small pools is so cold.  

The hike up had taken longer than we expected and it was pushing lunch so we headed back down the trail.  Surely it would be easier than the climb up!  As S walked under a very cool balanced rock, it sorta looks like a dinosaur peaking over the mountain.

Climbing back down the steep section,  G and S were a great team.  Two rocks created a squeeze too narrow to pass wearing a pack, so G passed them down to S.  And then waited to help me down too!

This was really the hardest climbing I have done for a long, long time.  Lots of lifting with arms and long reaches with legs. It's not for a solo hiker.  Or for dogs.  The depth perception is lost in the pics;  just try to imagine a 8 - 10 foot drop here.

It was 1 pm by the time we hit the junction at the lake trail.  G decided to run back.  S stuck with me for awhile but then took off too.  Couldn't blame them, Grandma and Auntie were waiting at the picnic area with sandwiches, chips and cookies!

And that's the rest of the story.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Old App Barn

Four wheeling in my non 4x4 Rav on the abandoned Harvard Mine Road this morning was so worth it to get this shot of the barn at the old App place.  (The reddish trees on Table Mountain are California Buckeye.)

With happy serendipity I also happened upon these tumbling down sheds that aren't visible from the highway.

When one of my favorite barns in Chinese Camp burned down a few years back I started taking pics of the old barns around Tuolumne County.  Most are from the Gold Rush era and without lots of tender loving care they are  falling down.  The harsh winter of 2011-2012 sure took a toll.  I better get out for another barn ride before this winter attacks!

(Note to my history buff friends.....the App family are descendants of the Donor Party).