My mom wanted to celebrate her 72nd b-day by taking an adventure to find wildflowers while Laura was stuck at home attending a science curriculum PD via Zoom (total bummer!). We knew in advance that the lack of rain since January 1st was likely to have a major impact on the bloom's vibrancy. We figured the usual haunts like Railroad Flat along the Merced River and the Merced River Canyon near Briceburg would be our best bet. As expected there were only several hillsides lightly carpeted by poppies and many of the hills were barely hanging on to any greenery. It's been a rough wet-season to be sure. We checked out the newts at Railroad Flat and then headed to Yosemite Valley where a sunny and slightly breezy 68F greeted us. After throwing rocks in the river under the backdrop of Yosemite Falls, we headed home. Upon our exit we were stopped in our tracks at Valley View by an amazing rainbow adorning the plunging spray of Bridalveil Falls. Hope you enjoy the pics!
Desperate to get out of the house after several crazy weeks, and feeling like we could safely not interact with anyone, we headed to Yosemite for a little snow play, vitamin D and mental rejuvenation. We even slept-in, which allowed us to arrive in Yosemite at lunch time. We had soup from a thermos and then played in the snow of Ahwahnee Meadow for nearly three hours under bluebird conditions. It was a tremendously fun day of Z picking snowball fights he couldn't win.
We tried to find some light for real photography as we left and settled on Tunnel View, which was just OK. What an amazing day!
We had planned on heading up to Yosemite Valley Saturday morning, but our departure was slightly delayed by the age-old time suck known as sleeping-in. I saw it as an opportunity to leave Turlock in the late morning, explore during the day, eat camp dinner of soup and sausage and catch a sunset without actually camping.
We spent a lovely day strolling along the various meadows in the valley gawking at the unusual sight of a full-throated Yosemite Falls with fall colors all around the Merced River. We had our camp dinner in the Ahwahnee meadow picnic area. Belly's full, I walked down the path to capture some neat clouds rolling off Half Dome, but had no idea one of the best sunsets I've ever witnessed was about to occur. Luckily I happened to have my camera capturing interval shots every two seconds for 10 minutes when the show started. Such a great memory.
Fun, easy hike through Bell Meadow to see the fall colors in the largest aspen groves of the Stanislaus National Forest. We had originally planned on heading to Chain Lakes off of Box Spring Trailhead, but road work and the realization that the road was too long caused us to change our plans mid-adventure. It worked out well for us!
A quick Saturday day hike introducing Grandma H to the Harvey Monroe Hall Natural Area surrounding Green Treble Lake. Since we didn't want to push the drive home in one day, we decided to overnight in Lee Vining with a room overlooking Lee Vining Creek and Mono Lake. Smoke from Southern Sierra fires wasn't bad enough to prevent hiking, but it did completely obscure the views. On the drive home we traveled from Virginia Lakes to Bridgeport via Dunderberg Meadow road and got some great fall color leaf-peeping in!
3D LiDar Scans from the Hike.
To celebrate the completion of Laura's Master's degree, we booked a lovely little condo in Mammoth to be used as a basecamp for hikes in the high country of Yosemite & the White Mountains outside of Bishop. We had three amazing hikes totaling 18 miles that all started at an elevation greater than 9000'. We had such a great time and I even used my new iphone to create lidar-based 3D models of the best geology we found along the way.
Four mile out and back trail through Tioga Pass tundra. One of the best hikes in Yosemite.
One of the most amazingly scenic and geologically interesting hikes we've ever hiked. Six miles or so round trip. Requires basic route-finding skills.
Great graded road to the Masonic Mining District outside of Bridgeport. Awesome old structures remain to explore. Google it for more info.
Not wanting to let a coveted 3-Day Yosemite Pass go to waste, Z, Grandma and I headed to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne, only to be thwarted by awesome monsoonal thunderstorms. We were able to eat a bit of lunch in the car while overlooking the Dana Fork and watching the rain showers move through the area. Smelling petrichor was great! After eating we noticed that the storms seemed to be leaving Tuolumne Meadows alone, so we headed down to do a bit of fishing and exploring. Z caught the only fish of the day! A fun 7" brown trout. It was a great day!
Grandma, Zephyr and I scored a three-day day pass for Yosemite while Laura put the finishing touches on her Masters work. We first visited Sentinel Dome, and since we did that hike so quickly we added the short jaunt down to McGurk Meadow as well. It was my first time to McGurk and it was FULL of amazing wildflowers and small ponds of a stream that would normally flow above ground in non-drought times. The abundance of life was quite surprising given the lack of rain. Luckily there were no mosquitos so we were able to have a grand time enjoying the scenery. This was the last hike that Z and I will have to do without Laura, because she is now FINISHED with her Masters!
A short jaunt to Horse and Cow Meadow for our yearly check-in with the lupine. The dry year meant that the flowers came and went early, but we were able to see many in their last throes of color.
Alaska 2020 never happened due to the initial COVID outbreak. After some hectic rescheduling in March, my dad & I were able to confirm a spot for early July at Whaler's Cove Lodge - several weeks earlier than we normally visit. We shared a boat with Charlie and David, traveling friends of my dad's that he met while touring Europe.
The fishing this year was only average. We caught limits of halibut and cod but were too early for the silvers and couldn't land any keeper king salmon. The final day of fishing was very consistent landing kings (22 in total) but every single one was smaller than 28" and had to be released. Thus we each only came home with our ~50lbs of fish. In good years we may each have 100+lbs that lasts the year. Enjoy the photos, which are a mix of iphone and D850 images. 360 Video can be found below so you can relive the experience.
Other notable occurrences from this year:
360 Fishing Video (Drag video to look around)
These are short clips meant to help you experience what it's like to be out on the boat. It always goes waaaay too fast to believe when you're there in person.
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.