Friday, March 29, 2013

5 day loop around Yosemite

This is a little blast from the past. I don't have any interesting backpacking trips coming up so I thought I would post this, it was a unique trip! This was from October 2012:

I have been loving California. The incredible variety of backcountry options is so refreshing. I have considered Yosemite to be one of the jewels of California but have never really explored it. This year, I wanted to really have a good look at Yosemite. I was limited to 5 days (due to work constraints) and so I chose to do a semi-loop around the southeastern portion of the park.

5 day semi-loop of southwestern Yosemite

Day 1: Catheral Lakes trailhead south on the JMT. ~ 10 miles

Started at Cathedral Lakes trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows.

I hiked south for a few hours on the JMT and found a quiet little campsite near a stream.

Day 2: Campsite on the JMT to Washburn Lake. ~ 10 miles

The next day I hiked a couple more miles south and then turned East towards Merced Lake. The camp was deserted as I passed by. It felt great to be in such a popular spot without anyone else around.

Passed by an area where many trees had blown over. This bridge was damaged as well.

Saw bear #1 (sorry no picture) near the Merced ranger station. A beautiful walk to Washburn lake where, as the sun set, this incredible pink glow lit up the entire valley.

It really looked like this!

Day 3: Washburn Lake to Upper Ottoway Lake. ~ 15 miles

Continued up the Merced river the following day. Saw bear #2 in the morning just after leaving the lake.

This was the only bear I encountered that actually seemed nervous around me, all the others completely ignored me.

I continued, mostly uphill, through a mix of conifer forest and rocky subalpine terrain.

This was probably the best day of the entire trip. I was in a great mood, the hiking was strenuous but enjoyable, the weather was fine and I passed through a variety of landscapes.


Looking up towards Red Peak.

View back down the valley.

Almost at the pass.

Steep switchbacks down the other side, the trail continued past upper Ottoway Lake.
I spent the night near upper Ottoway Lake, camped next to a stand of Junipers.

Day 4: Upper Ottoway Lake to Little Yosemite Valley ~ 17 miles

Lower Ottoway Lake

I followed the Illilouette river towards the valley. This was a much lusher area with many aspen trees.

There were beautiful aspen trees rustling in the breeze

Bear #3
Bears 4, 5 and 6. (Mother with 2 cubs, cant see the cubs in this picture) I gave them lots of space.

I passed by a series of domes.

Near Nevada Falls

Sunset on the Merced

Day 5: Little Yosemite Valley back to Cathedral Lakes Trailhead. ~ 16 miles

I passed the back of half dome in the morning and hiked uphill onto the JMT.

So there I was, minding my own business. I had hiked up to the top of a small pass, just above Sunrise High Sierra camp. As I got to the top, I saw this strange white furry creature through the trees ahead of me. 

A Llama? I have seen llamas in the backcountry before but never one alone.

I have not had too many interactions with llamas and it was strange to come across one here. I called out to see if anyone was around, the llama looked like it had broken free during the night and had wandered up here. He seemed to be pretty relaxed, happily munching away on grass.

I didn't really feel like I should leave it, since I had not seen anyone for many hours on the trail up, I thought that perhaps there were some people camped at Sunrise who had lost their llama. After much thought I decided that I should take it with me in the hopes that I would run into the person looking for it. 

I had never led a llama so I wasn't sure how to do it. When I would get too close he started to get a weird look in his eye so I didn't feel too comfortable grabbing the short rope. But, I found that if I walked behind him, he would walk along the trail. 

As we went along he would get easily distracted by the tempting grasses, therefore I decided that if I really was committed to getting him somewhere, I had better take the rope. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, he was very calm.This is when I learned his name, written on his harness, "Bandido".

We walked a long ways. As I kept passing backpackers, I grew increasingly unsure of my decision as nobody had heard of a missing llama. I began to wonder if I had brought Bandido in the wrong direction. But, we continued on, it was too late to turn back and I didn't feel right leaving him alone.

Chilling with Bandido

At upper Cathedral Lake I ran into a forest service crew who had a satellite phone. They were able to call the number on the tag on Bandido's harness. I spoke with the owner and agreed to continue walking Bandido down to the trailhead where he would meet me. 

It turns out that he was missing 2 llamas and he was very happy that I found one of them.

Bandido listening intently

 And that was it, I left the park around sunset and drove home. That was a long day!

Bandido the lost Llama

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring has Sprung!

Well Spring is definitely here, in fact it feels like it has been here all winter. I have been living the dream in California for almost 5 years now and I cannot get over how great the winters are. Its like spring for 5 months of the year. But there are some subtle changes and the leaves are coming out, more flowers are blooming, bees are doing their thing.

And, after waiting for almost 2 years, I have a plot at the local community garden! It is exactly 1.5 blocks from where I live and so I am totally stoked. It is not much to look at just yet. Here is a before picture, actually this is after a couple hours of work but I forgot to bring my camera.

Ready for planting
It is about 20' by 20', you can grow a decent amount of veggies in that space. When I have a garden I tend to focus on things that I cant afford at the store. This year, as with other years will be dedicated to peppers. I love them! As it is March it is getting a bit late for some of the cool weather crops, I will try out some carrots and beets as well as some chard and pak choi that I started in flats. Fortunately, I was told I would be getting the plot about a month ago, so I had time to start transplants.

In my garage, maybe the neighbors think I am growing pot
So the center flat is almost all peppers, I think I have 13 different varieties, from small to large, mostly sweet but a couple of hot thai peppers that sounded interesting. Also in the same flat are eggplants (3 kinds). I don't even like eggplants but they are fun to grow. To the right are the tomatoes, 4 kinds, 2 beef and 2 saladette. I started these later because they dont require as much time to grow before transplanting. In the left tray is a hodgpodge of things. I used a bunch of old seed and apparently none of the lettuce germinated, or the spinach... So I have a lot of chard and pak choi, with some random flowers thrown in for fun.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Joshua Tree in March

Since I started in the melon program I have been going to Arizona every spring to sow trials. I always try to make time to visit Joshua Tree park on the way back. Rakesh and I spent a couple of days hiking around the park.

Lots of sun, although not as hot as Arizona.

Rakesh enjoying the breeze

Phacelia campanularia ssp vasiformis

There is a history of mining in the park and it is really interesting to visit some of the old mining sites. The conditions people used to live under were pretty harsh, but the lure of gold was a strong persuasion.

Sitting in an old rock house built under a giant boulder by miners

Only the foundation remains

The mines were covered with metal grates. There were a couple that you could squeeze into.

I went into one mine out of curiosity. I didn't go far because I didn't have a headlamp. It was really cool to be inside a mine and think what it must have been like to dig out that tunnel. Glad it wasn't me...

Entering the mine, just follow the tracks (and climb through the grate)

Long exposure shot inside the mine, I popped off the flash a couple of times as well. It was really dark.

We spent the night sleeping out amongst the Joshua Trees. All the campgrounds were full, I guess March is a busy time of year here.

Star Trails

The next day we spent in the Wonderland of Rocks. There is supposedly a hidden house (Oh-bay-yo-yo cave), built under a rock as well as a hidden arch in this area of the park. We spent most of the day hiking around and climbing over rocks trying to find these places. While it was fun searching we were not successful. Maybe next time.

Mt San Jacinto in the distance

Where the hell are we?

Rock face

Good times were had, hopefully I can get back there soon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tomales Point Trail (Pt Reyes)

Had a great day yesterday! Went back out to Tomales Point with Lori and Marjorie. The weather was beautiful, wind was pleasant and the elk were out in force.

Tomales Point is at the northern tip of Pt Reyes National Seashore and is a great place to see Tule Elk. It is only a 2 hour drive from our house, so not too far for a day trip.

At the beginning of the hike are a group of buildings belonging to an old Ranch. What an incredible place to live!

Living Roof

We saw four different herds during the 8 mile round trip.

Local Wildlife

Some flowers were blooming.

Iris douglasiana

Pollination in Action

Eschscholzia californica

Lori is Happy

Of course we hit up the Indian Restaurant in Dixon on the way back, YUM!