Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10 Days in The Eastern Sierras

It has been a long, beautiful summer in Santa Cruz and Panoche, but it was time for a driving trip with a little hiking, a little camping, a little slipping into some hot springs before the cool weather really arrives.  Our first stop was a quick side trip further into Yosemite Valley to see if there were any climbers on El Capitan.  There were at least two groups working their way up.

As we passed through the eastern side of Tuolumne (too-AH-lum-ee) Meadows in Yosemite, it started to snow!  Not the best time to take a short day hike here.

We slipped into Travertine Hot Springs near Bridgeport the next morning.  It is a beautiful spot with three different pools.

In the afternoon we hiked from the Rush Creek Trail Head at Silver Lake up to Agnew Lake, a little over four miles round trip.  It is in the mountains off 158, the alternative route to June Lake.  Lots of quaking aspen were beginning to turn bright yellow.

Thinking that the weather was warming back up, we decided to camp out.  Hmm...big mistake.  When we woke the next morning, everything was covered in frost.  It was cold, and as the sun neared us, the frost began to melt and create a very chilly, damp camp.  We drove out without breakfast to Shepherd's Hot Springs east of Mammoth to warm up and dry out.

That afternoon we found our way to Devil's Postpile National Monument.  Jim had never driven in, but he had seen it when he had hiked the John Muir Trail some years ago.

I went on to Rainbow Falls while Jim hiked a bit of the JMT.

Our next big day hike was up to Crystal Lake/Crystal Crag then to the Mammoth Crest.  We saw amazing views of the Mammoth Lakes.

The following morning we went back to Shepherd's Hot Springs and then to the Hot Pot.  I liked the Hot Pot as it was a bit cooler.

In the afternoon we found Rock Creek Trail Head.  There is limited parking, but we were lucky to find a man who had finished his hike and was on his way out.  What a gorgeous trail...flat, a bit up, a bit down...flat, up, down...nice...varied...easy...moderate.  We hiked along the creek and past several lakes up to the last one, Lake Morgan, where there was access to the Pacific Crest Trail.  We met lots of people, families, and dogs out for the day.  Some fished, some were going to camp out.

For years we have talked about going to Saline Valley Hot Springs.  Many friends have managed to find their way in and out.  Finally we did it.  We drove in 55 miles from the north entrance down, down, down to the valley floor through steep sided rock canyons, pleasant forested canyons, treeless grassy expanses, over washed out creek bottoms.  Basically, it is a twisty, rocky, mostly dirt track that took us two long hours.  It was another hour before we came to the hot springs...the oasis.

It was cool on the lawn in the shade of the palm trees.

There are two main sections approximately 3/4 of a mile apart.  It is a nice walk in the morning before the sun comes over the mountain.  The source pools are located in the upper area.

The lower area has three pools, a shower, a library, and a dish-washing station.  There are three well-maintained toilet areas.  Nothing is for sale, but you might make a donation to Lizard Lee in the form of actively doing maintenance chores, bringing supplies as requested on the Saline Preservation web page, or giving money.  Lizard Lee is the fix it, jack of all trades, go to man of the last twenty years.  He is not paid for his services, even though Saline Valley is now a part of Death Valley National Park.  He found his place in the world and just loves it.

Everything is meticulously clean and maintained.  The many fences keep out the burros that will eat anything and everything.  All you have to do is keep any food tightly contained, bring in what you need, and pack out all your trash.  Bring a good book, a scrabble game, and a deck of cards.  It is a most relaxing spot to find yourself if you have 10 days in the Eastern Sierras.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Kennedy Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness

Something new-Linda's pack and my pad, something old-Jim's cooking pots, something borrowed-Linda's pad, and something blue-all our shirts.  No, not a wedding, it was a three day, 15 mile out and back, backpacking trip to Kennedy Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness with Carla, Linda, and Tanya. We are off....

From Kennedy Meadows it was another one and a half miles to the Wilderness trail head.

The Sierra Nevadas are incredibly beautiful mountains.  We crossed three bridges on our way up the mountain.  The spaces between the bridges are the most challenging of this hike as the trail has large rocks that tend to accommodate horses more than humans.

Our campsite was at the near end of the valley, the lake was at the far, far end.

Tanya and Carla are the most technically oriented hikers.  A hammock?  We benefited greatly from their choices of what each brought in their packs.

Jim is the most experienced hiker and the minimalist hiker.  We think his pack was the lightest because he knows how to do it.

Tanya was the only one with a tent...a cozy and warm, two pound tent.

Kennedy Creek was just a few steps away from the campsite.  We saw fish jumping and osprey hunting.

Some time was spent filtering water.  Fortunately, we had two filters because one ended up breaking.  And we had a gizmo that boiled water in about one minute.  Wow!  This is high tech camping!

Jim took advantage of the late afternoon sun.

Jim built our fires when it started to get cool.

That boiler gizmo worked great to make hot tea and hot water for our dehydrated food packets.  Everybody had a stash of chocolate to share!

Tanya brought some zinfandel for Happy Hour.  Jim carried the tequila.

The second day we aimed for Kennedy Lake and a trail to the Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Pass.  There was a tiny bit of snow still high on some mountains.

We passed an old cabin while heading to the lake.  Jim went on ahead threading his way through the marsh.  If we had followed him closely, we might have made it to the lake as he did.  As it turned out, we girls found ourselves moving through vast marshy areas.  We could not find a way through, even though we saw the lake from a distance.  It took us until mid afternoon to finally give up and return to our first campsite for our second night.

As we headed down the third day, we encountered two pack trains of one horse and four mules each going up to our campsite.  Two different groups of people were hiking up with small day packs.  There is hiking, and there is backpacking.  We plan to go backpacking again before summer is over.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Manhattan in June

Manhattan in June is about proms, graduation, Father's Day, and the Summer Solstice.  Normally, we would not be here for any of those days, but we were this past June.  It was chilly, and that was good.  We saw lots of people out enjoying the city around the many landmarks.

Candy selection in the Eataly Caffe

Where else but in New York City!

Conservatory Water or The Model Boat Pond in Central Park

Views from atop the Empire State Building

Looking Up!

Bill and Marge were in New York City, too, and had the free passes to the top!  We also all went to see a wonderful production of "Kinky Boots".

Columbus Circle at Midnight

The Metropolitan Museum of Art had an extensive and most beautiful exhibit, China: Through the Looking Glass.

Meanwhile, at the Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953-1967 was showing.  I really liked all the Marilyns.

Jim took Roxie for a walk everyday we were there...around the block and into the park.

Finally the weather warmed and created a wonderful evening to participate in the 37th Annual Museum Mile Festival.  We wanted to go into the Guggenheim Museum, but the line was too long.  Instead, we took the long, right way, around the Reservoir home.  

I can hardly wait to go back.