Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mammoth Lakes, June 2008

In June of 2008, we camped for almost a week at Coldwater campground near Mammoth Lakes at 9100 feet -- very cool, quiet, and breezy. The campsite was between two rushing streams; the snow in the higher elevations was melting fast, and the streams were full. We started with a day of mountain biking, which turned into snow biking. (Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge, and click "back" to get back to the blog.)

We then hiked up to Emerald Lake:

Almost every hike we took was in the Mammoth Lakes basin, near the campground. The 11,500 foot Mammoth Crest hovered over everything:

The stream flowing into Arrowhead Lake tumbles over basalt blocks:

I took a lot of time exposures of the cascade. (For the benefit of folks with a digital SLR and a lot of patience, these were taken at about a half second at about f 32 (not 3.2!), with an ISO of 200.)

After clambering up next to the cascade, we got ambitious and headed out for Duck Pass at about 10,800 feet. The trail switchbacked up the head of the canyon through snowfields:

This was a pretty adventurous hike for us because we had to find our own way and because it was a long hike -- about 10 total miles, with about 1800 feet of elevation gain at high altitude. Also, the day was cold, windy, and semi-stormy; we could hear thunder in the distance, and we could see rain over Tioga Pass to the north. We later found out that the lightning caused about 800 fires throughout Northern California. The clouds were pretty cool, though:

On another hike, we went down into the Devil's Postpile area to Minaret Falls and Rainbow Falls:

On our way back to Southern California, we hiked up McGee Creek. Not a lot of shade, but some great views and lots of wildflowers:

Up above the 9000 foot level, we came upon a lake created by a beaver dam. The beaver lodge is the little mound in the middle of the lake; we waited to see if the beavers would show up, but they were apparently on vacation:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Zion and Grand Canyon, May 2008

We spent 10 days in Utah and Arizona for our 30th anniversary. (We took hundreds of pictures; here are just a few. Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them, and then click "back" to get back to the blog. Some of them look better when enlarged.)

We got to Zion at sunset on a stormy Thursday evening:

The next day, Friday, we hiked in the rain. Eventually, the sun came out on the wildflowers:

On Saturday, we were off to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on a showery and snowy day:

After spending Saturday night in an RV park in Jacob Lake, we found an isolated boondocking site near the East Rim:

How isolated? This is a view of the trailer from halfway down our quarter- mile "driveway," which branched off of a remote dirt road:

On a blustery Sunday evening, we took a sunset bike ride from our campsite to the East Rim Viewpoint:

On Monday, we hiked a couple of miles down into the canyon on the Kaibab Trail to a natural tunnel:

On Tuesday, we hiked the Widforss Trail, 10 miles long but not too hilly:

On Wednesday, we moved the trailer about 25 miles to the west on the Rainbow Rim at Locust Point:

If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you can see daylight under the trailer hitch. That's the rim itself. Here is the view from the door of the trailer:

We set up our lounge chairs on a windy ledge next to the trailer:

Our campsite was on Locust Point, in a lush Ponderosa pine forest. There were one or two other groups camping in the area; for some of the time, we were the only people within 20 miles:

Since we were spending several days away from civilization, we had no place to put our trash. We had to hang it up in a tree to keep the animals away:

For the next two days (Thursday and Friday), we rode the Rainbow Rim trail, which follows the rim around five points that resemble five fingers of the plateau overlooking the canyon. The trail meanders in and out of the forest:

Because it was only late May, the wildflowers were not yet in full bloom , but almost all of the snow had melted and the meadows were green:

We got up at 5 a.m. one morning to watch the sunrise:

This is almost the same shot, edited five years later in Lightroom:

The rides (over 18 miles each day) were challenging but exhilarating:

On Saturday, we headed back toward home through Zion and stopped to ride to the end of the canyon and back. This is one of our favorite road rides, since there is no traffic, the road is great, and the scenery can't be beat: