05 August 2017

Top Secret

On Friday the stars aligned just right for my dear friend and fellow Bodieite, Betty, to meet me at the Leavitt Meadows trailhead for a hike out to Secret Lake. Neither of us had ever been, but I have to say that this was probably one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done. I know I say that about a lot of places, but truly - there were gorgeous vistas every way you looked, the whole trail, and you barely even had to work for them. Well, it was uphill pretty much the whole way there, but nothing crazy. What follows are some photos from along the way.
We went through a section of what we believe was serpentine rock - beautiful greens and blacks

Betty making her way up one of the many hills

View from one of the many hilltops

Vista looking east towards the mountain training center and what I'm guessing is Mud Lake (settled in the upper plains on the center-right of the photo)

Another vista - that largest snow patch on the right of the near mountain had a long narrow waterfall going all the way down it - so pretty!

Do you see the crawdad? They were all over in this lake!!

Secret Lake

B-etty and Jackaldine ;)

You can see the blue-green of Poore Lake through the trees at the base of the mountain

Now you see the lizard...

.. now you don't!

Another beautiful rock - likely so sort of copper in it. There was a pile of this blue-green rock visible in the distance.

Snow-capped mountains in the distance!

Wyoming Paintbrush - it's pink!

The West Walker River - very pretty, still very high

28 July 2017

My first backpacking adventure (in 3 years!!!)

How many snow plants do you see?
Photos from my first backpacking trip of the season - and first backpacking trip since 2014!!! Woah! It went pretty well, and I'm very sore today, but glad I went out and got to experience all of this beauty!

Gilia, possibly Valerian in the middle, and Wooly Mule's Ears (the big green fuzzy ones) in a meadow

I hiked up to Boulder Lake after work on Wednesday and got to see some beautiful end-of-the-day lighting on the surrounding peaks - some of which still had snow on them!

My campsite 
Nude buckwheat - one of my favorite flowers, it was all around my campsite
Boulder Lake (and a mystery white water flower of some sort)
Boulder Lake - a very warm lake for swimming, even at 7 o'clock in the morning!
Mountain Bluebells - aka Sierra Spinach! Very good munching...

The second day I hiked down from the lake and started up the other end of the trail towards Clark Fork Meadow. I had lunch at a beautiful waterfall vista.

Sierra Penstamon (a first for me!) and one of my favorites: the Mariposa Lily
I saw LOTS of Mariposa Lilies around, so I had to sort out a lot of unnecessary pictures. But suffice it to say that in the Bodie Hills I was used to seeing a solitary Mariposa Lily amidst the desert brush, but here I was seeing them all over and in groups of half a dozen or more! Amazing!
Mariposa Lily and Sky Lupine

Alpine Lily - redder an more erect flowers than the Leopard Lily of which I'm so fond
There were plenty of stream crossings, each its own little oasis of abundant green growth - flowers and otherwise. I saw some, like the Alpine Lily, that I may have misidentified before, and saw some that were totally new to me!
Lewis' Monkeyflower
I was below the area known as St. Mary's Pass - some beautiful peaks up there
Unfortunately, the trail disappeared not long after the waterfall. This is where I decided to turn around - can you see the trail?
The Clark Fork
Thinking I had maybe gone too far from the river, I moved towards it, and found this beautiful cascade. Unfortunately, I also found that I got cliffed out and had to change out of my hiking skirt and into my hiking pants, take off my jewelry, and get serious. After hiking up and over numerous boulders like the ones you see across the river, I finally made it back to the trail (or at least the last place where I knew that I was) at this amazing campsite.
A Splendid Campsite with a Great View

Of course, one of the perks of being off-trail is you get to take a panoramic photo like this one and know that the chances of someone else standing in the exact same spot and taking a photo are very slim.

I began the hike back and saw many more beautiful things, because of course: I'm in the backcountry!

A real treat: close, open a little, close, open all the way! The California Tortoiseshell Butterfly - pretty sure I've not seen this one before, and that bright orange was astounding!
A very inviting meadow across the Clark Fork
A Corn Lily in full bloom!
Small Larkspur
The biggest, reddest Snow Plant ever!!!
Scarlet Gilia
Anderson's Thistle
From top to bottom: Horse Mint, Alpine Daisies, and an Aspen sapling
These orange flowers were closed when I came back down the trail, so I may never know what they really are. My best guess is Alpine Pyrrocoma

A vista towards the trailhead
Another new favorite: Grand Collomia! 

Someone trying out their new axe? Not sure what was up with this tree, but it didn't look that way on the hike in...

California Coneflower - not sure if it has the same properties as the Purple Coneflower/Echinacea
I was really feeling the love on this hike... 💚
My new favorite from the last hike - Checker Bloom!
Back to the trailhead: the Iceberg standing above Iceberg Meadow
Overall it was great to get out. I didn't end up staying two nights - not finding Clark Fork Meadow had me feeling like I may as well just hike all the way back out. I went somewhere around 12.5 to 13 miles over the course of two days, 4.2 of that happening on day 1. I didn't feel too bad yesterday, but this morning I am so sore! I guess I really am starting to get older... and it probably doesn't help that I haven't done anything quite like this in a few years!!! I guess the only remedy is... more backpacking!

Until next time!

13 July 2017

Another Wildflower Hike

I've moved since the last time I posted. I now live in this cute, quiet little green house in the forest, on the compound. My truck is parked and spends most of its time acting as a reflecting-board for sunsets, when it's not driving me home to see Jack. And in the house, a fair amount of the time, is Jax, the lovable chocolate lab/Australian shepherd mix that one of my housemates got approved to stay with us for the summer.

I had one weekend to myself to go hiking and I took full advantage. I bandit camped off Fence Creek Road and hiked to Wheats Meadow and back. It was absolutely lovely out there. I wouldn't mind spending a week just hiking around the greater region of that valley. The terrain was so inviting, the creeks slow and clear - they reminded me of the creek behind my grandparents' house that I used to play in as a kid. Anyhow, lots of photos will follow the written section of this post to show those adventures.

My parents came out to visit - no photos of that yet as they took most of them! But it was a great time all-around. They came up to see the Pinecrest area for a quick overnight, then drove up to our place in Westwood. Together we explored the area, renting bikes and going down the Bizz Johnson Trail. It was a beautiful, mostly-downhill, 26 miles from Westwood to Susanville that I would gladly ride again. We also drove around Lake Almanor and explored that, and I showed them our local reservoir over here. I had to go back to work, so Jack sent them off the next day with recommendations for Lassen National Park, where I think they spent the entire day until supper time!

The best news right now is that I got my days off changed for work, so now I am off on Thursdays and Fridays, which means I have a day off in common with Jack, PLUS I don't have to go into work until 12:30 on Saturdays (for now at least), so I don't have to leave until Saturday morning. That means I get 3 nights and 2 days at home if I come home on a weekend. Which will probably happen a bit more often in the next 6 weeks, since I have until the end of programs to keep coming into work late on Saturdays.

Summer is going by fast! I'm still loving my job, and hoping that I'll have time between school and visits home to actually explore the place I'm working in. I figure I should take advantage of the good schedule for the next several weeks, though, and come home, because it will change once programs stop and then it will also be less busy so I can explore with more solitude.

Also, I am saving up to rent a llama for a backpacking trip. It's a summer goal. $70/day and you can have a shaggy friend carry your bag for you while you traverse through the mountains... I can hardly wait!

Until next time!

Campsite Photos:

On the Wheats Meadow Trail:

Applegate's Paintbrush, yarrow, and juniper berries

Yarrow leaf - this stuff smells beautiful and is a deterrent to mosquitos!

Torrey's Monkeyflower (or some other variety), and the little ellow flowers are likely Muir's Ivesia (or some other variety)... I think...

Looking at the Dardanelles - volcanic geology at its finest

Some more Dardanelles in the distance

Wandering Daisy

Thimbleberry Flowers - my favorite berry of all time!

Corn Lily

White-veined Wintergreen - I rarely see this with flowers on it

Most likely some variety of Gilia 
Duck pond... couldn't snag a picture of them, but there was a whole family of ducks here. They all hid in the rushes as soon as I came up, and even when I tried to sneak back up there on the way back they were gone.

Remnants of an old fence or gate?

Western Bistort

Wheats Meadow!!

Wheats Meadow Creek... I could've crossed it, but I didn't feel like taking my boots off.

Subalpine Larkspur

Duck pond and Dardanelle 
Smaller meadow along the trail


Mountain Spiraea

Little pink wildflower carpet in the degenerated granite.

Mystery flower - perhaps it was a young willow or something, but I honestly have no idea. Couldn't find anything like it in my book.

Checker bloom - this might be a new favorite!

Lemmon's Catchfly, getting a visit from a bumblebee... sorry it's so blurry.

Stepping stones across Dardanelles Creek
Another pond along the trail

If I could only have found the last piece to this puzzle, I probably would've brought it home...  nuts!

Roadside waterfall!