Sunday, November 13, 2016

Perimeter Hike

A beautiful Fall weekend provided my husband and I the opportunity to have a wonderful and strenuous hike at Mt. Madonna. Our hike started by descending the Sprigs Trail, which we were able to pickup close to our campsite. Somewhere close to the Sprig Staging Area we heard the sound of water. A small creek can be seen down below the trail.

After walking under the canopy of Redwoods and Bay Laurel, we headed off on the Merry-Go-Round Trail that presented us with views of surrounding ridges and valleys.

A short hike on Old Mine trail rewarded us with a surprise-- a small lake.

After backtracking to the main trail, we climbed the rest of the way up the hill to where the pens with the white deers are located for a short rest before heading back to camp. At camp we rested, enjoyed appetizer hour, and listened to the sounds of campers enjoying the company of friends and family. 

Next day, we walked around the other two campgrounds that are closed for the winter season. We stopped at a bench to soak in views.

We stopped to read about the Giant Twins, some of the oldest redwoods at the park.

And we noticed numerous banana slugs venturing across the roadways of the empty campgrounds. 

After exploring the closed campgrounds, we returned to our campsite which was quieter since many campers had already packed up and left.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Retreat

The Sierra Mountains was where we headed for two days of relaxing, exploring, and hiking-- a true retreat. Our campsite was again Black Oak since we wanted to hike around Crabtree.

There is a fire road from the campground with an outcropping of rocks that over look Beardsley Lake that we explored. This is such a beautiful place! I'll be dreaming all winter long of picnic lunches here while patiently waiting for our return trip in spring.

We were also surprised at the view of the canyon from this point.

Back at camp we rested while I planned for the next day's longer hike at a higher altitude.

Somewhere out there is the rock outcropping that we had hiked to earlier.

After a peaceful night's sleep and yummy breakfast, we headed to Crabtree Trail head to hike to Camp Lake and Bear Lake. The hike started with a climb up the ridge where we then followed the marker in the direction of Camp Lake.

Before descending the trail to Camp Lake, we were rewarded with views of the granite range of the Sierra.

We strolled passed huge granite formations as we made our way to Camp Lake.

We found Camp Lake to be a resting spot for backpackers that had ventured further into the Emigrant Wilderness than what we were planning for the day.

Since we found a couple of large groups of backpackers resting on some rocks near the lake, we quickly continued on to Bear Lake. Along the way we passed by more huge boulders, but this pairing was the most interesting we encountered.

The mile hike from Camp Lake up to Bear Lake went quickly. We were rewarded with a lake almost all to ourselves. This lake was gorgeous! We soaked our feet in the ice cold water and took a snack break. It was so relaxing and peaceful. We only saw three backpackers on the opposite side of the lake. 

While hiking from Crabtree trailhead to Camp Lake, we encountered numerous groups of backpackers. Our return trip was totally different.  We only met one man carrying a 70 pound pack.  Yes, he was loaded down. He told us his goal was 70 miles in two weeks. 

Just before coming back to the parking lot near the trailhead, we crossed over this sturdy bridge. At this time of year the bridge looks a bit excessive for the quiet stream below. I'm sure in spring that stream roars with abundant amount of water making it difficult to cross. 

After our 7.5 mile hike, we returned to a nearly empty campground. 

The next day, the campground closed for the season. We said our goodbyes for the season and headed home to eagerly await our return to this lovely place in spring.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Clark Fork Campground and the Attack of the Bees

Resting in the hammock, I listened to the sounds of nature in this pretty campground located in the Stanislaus NF off of highway 108.  The meat-eating bees were buzzing and flying into the trap of sardine water that my daughter had made earlier that day. We couldn't tell if a bee kept going into the bottle because of the smell of sardines or trying to rescue their fellow bee.

The campground was mostly empty since school had started, which is a week earlier than last year. So the third week of August, which would normally be a busy time for families in the past to camp, was very quiet. Only one family with very young kids were at the opposite end of the campground. Otherwise, the other few campers were elderly folks. Out of 88 sites there were only about 15 occupied.

Our site was nestled in a group of shrubs, nice and private.

The campground is surrounded by rocky peaks, but from our campsite the view was of the pines.

Some of the surrounding peaks are on the edge of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. On the first day, we hiked the Arnot Creek trail, which is located at the end of a dirt road just a short distance from the entrance to the campground. We hiked from our campsite to the junction of Arnot Creek and Woods Gulch and back, round trip was about 7 miles at an elevation of 6,350 feet.

Our second day hike was to the beautiful Sword Lake in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. After the long drive to the parking area near the entrance to the trail, we made the steep climb up the trail for a wonderful view of the Stanislaus NF. Sadly, a hive of bees had taken a liking to this area of rocks. I got stung in the knee while admiring the view.

From this point, it was almost all down hill to the lake. We crossed a meadow along the ridge and then did a series of switchbacks down the mountain. Along the way, we were rewarded with spectacular views towards Spicer Reservoir. 

There were miles of granite and pine to be seen.

The hike from County Line to Sword Lake is 2 miles, at least that is what the National Forrest Service states, but it felt like a good 3- 3.5 mile hike to the lake. Once we got to the lake, we were rewarded with wonderful views of the Dardanelles. 

The water was so inviting that we took a quick dip to cool and refresh our sweaty bodies. 

Before heading back, we took a photo of us and the Dardanelles behind us. We didn't want to leave this beautiful place, but we knew we had the long and slow climb back up the mountain to the car. As we headed out, a group of backpackers were coming in to camp for the night at the lake. I prefer the comforts of the RV. 

So, off we trudged along the trail passing many different flowers in bloom, like the Indian Paint Brush, and taking in the wonderful views of the Dardanelles.

Mother nature provided a lesson on different ways tree branches form along the trunks of the pine trees- -way cool!

I needed numerous rest stops while climbing back up the mountain. One can't complain of the scenery along the way. 

A shady rest stop was badly needed before walking past the rock pile of nasty bees. So, I rested well before making the last quick dash up the hill past the pile of rocks. From there, it was the short and steep descent back to the car.

Back at camp, more of the meat-eating bees had committed suicide. We were amazed at how many had ventured into the trap.  

After a peaceful night of rest, we took one last hike around the campground (mid-morning) looking at all the sites and commenting on which ones would be nice for future stays.

Of course Meeks gave us that look of do we have to go home so soon. I'm sure that she wanted to be back at the lake. 

Yes, we will return again to this lovely lake and to explore this region more.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

TeleLi puLaya

TeleLi puLaya could be lyrics to a song, but it's the name to a wonderful campground off Hwy. 108 in the Stanislaus National Forest. This campground just sings of beauty with spectacular views of the Stanislaus River Canyon and the Dardanelles in the far distance.

After our wonderful camping trip and hiking adventure at Fraser Flat, I decided that my husband and I would explore more of the campgrounds and trails off Hwy. 108 this summer. In the past, our Sierra car-camping trips with our children would always be to Utica Lake off Hwy. 4--another equally beautiful area. On this trip, we were rewarded with the beautiful setting of TeleLi puLaya a.k.a Black Oak campground nestled in the Jeffrey and Yellow pine forest just above Beardsley Lake.

Since there isn't a trail from the campground to the lake, I planned a hike that would take us into the Emigrant Wildness which is located on the other side of Hwy. 108 from where we were camped. After stopping at the Summit Ranger Station for additional information, we were off to explore. And explore we did!

First adventure was off-roading up to the parking area at Gianelli Cabin trailhead, about 8,600 feet. From there, our next adventure was a relatively easy climb up to Burst Rock a.k.a Birth Rock. We stopped numerous times on the way up taking in the views of the granite boulders covered with snow and far off volcanic rock formations, such as the Dardanelles and the Three Chimneys.

Close to the top of Burst Rock there is large sign with historical information about the pioneers that pulled wagons up the mountain. In addition to that information, which is difficult to picture, there is information about a legend of one pioneer lady that gave birth on Burst Rock. Eeks! All I could think of was OMG that poor woman. After the climb, we descended to find Powell Lake, about 2.3 miles from trailhead. The lake can't be seen from the trail coming from Burst Rock. It is located left side of trail coming from Burst Rock and is nestled in granite below the trail. A faint trail junction is the only clue that something of interest is in that direction, no sign.

Once we found the side trail that leads down to this pretty lake, we sat to soak up the peacefulness of this small, pristine lake. 

Surprisingly, the walk back to the car was fast and equally enjoyable as heading to the lake. While walking back, I noticed different flowering plants along the trail that I didn't see while heading to the lake. Total miles hiked was about 5 miles and at an altitude above 8,000 feet. Back down the mountain we headed for our traditional camping hour of appetizers, tea (for me) and cocktails (for husband) while resting our weary bones and planning the next day's adventure.

The next morning we headed off thinking we could hike the Trail of the Gargoyles, but the forest road leading back to the Gargoyles is extremely rutted and better for high clearance 4WD vehicles than our new tow vehicle, a diesel Cayenne. So, we decided to drive down pass our campground to look at the campground at Beardsley Lake.  That's one steep and curvy drive down to the lake--but well worth the look.

A view looking up the lake and canyon from the west side after the dam. The campsites at the lake look nice, but I would NOT tow a trailer down to camp since the road's incline is very steep. We headed back to TeleLi puLaya for lunch and a walk around the campsite. While walking the campground, we noticed an old forest road near the trash dumpster next to the camp host site. We followed that road until we came to a T-junction, another forest road. From that junction, we just headed back the way we came to the campground. Along the forest road where signs that some folks had driven their dirt bikes sometime recently.

Numerous butterflies were frequenting some milkweed that was along one sunny location of the forest road. We counted five different types of butterflies enjoying the milkweed nectar. 

In one large area along the forest road there is a field of Mountain Misery. I get a kick out of that name. Mountain Misery is also known as bear clover, bearcat, or kit-kit-dizzy, a Miwok name. 

Interestingly, it grows only on the western slopes of the Sierra Range. This plant, a member of the rose family, is very important agent in building a healthy forest environment as well as being a main source of winter food for black-tailed deer. The Miwok Indians would make a tea from it to fight off colds and ease rheumatism.

TeleLi puLaya is located far from Hwy. 108, but well worth revisiting in order to explore more of the forest that surrounds this lovely campground. There is a large rock that can be seen from the campground. The friendly camp host told me from that rock, shaped as a glove, one can see all of Beardsley Lake and the Stanislaus River Canyon. Next time I come back to this delightful campground, I'll hike over to the rock for a picnic lunch.