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.
The only temporary perk of having a drought is that the snow above 11,000' has already melted in early June. With that in mind, Eric Hauck and I ventured up to the high Emigrant Wilderness for several days of backpacking and adventuring near High Emigrant Lake. After acclimating to the high elevations at Leavitt Lake for an evening (terribly rough road for rugged 4x4 rigs only) we headed off on our 8.5mi adventure bright and early the next morning. 2500ft of elevation gain, at high elevations and over rough trail, was very tiring, but the views and the geology were spectacular. We caught six brookies in several hours of fishing over two days... not the hottest action I've ever seen at the lake. Every fish was at least 15" long and the largest was about 17" and weighed close to 2.5lbs (easily). Enjoy our explorations, and if you'd like to see a high resolution version of the images, let me know!
2021 Adventure to the East Side. Stayed in Mammoth to have some fun while it was 104+ in Turlock. Colin, Mandy, Kingston, Grandma, Grandpa, Laura, Zephyr and me... all in a nice condo for four days. Made for a great base camp for birding and hiking!
We made a long-shot attempt to visit Yosemite Valley during peak hydrological run-off to perhaps catch a glimpse of Yosemite Falls in their glory... on a Saturday. There was not a parking spot to be had in the valley by 10am, so we did a drive-through and headed to our back-up plan: Foresta Falls. We had the trail to ourselves!
To see these gorgeous falls , one just needs to drive to the end of Foresta Road's pavement, park on the pull-out out area walk down the old dirt road for about 15 minutes alongside Crane Creek. The road at one time was passable by car all the way to El Portal but the bridge spanning the creek washed out many years ago and the bridge pieces that survived remain in a sketchy state. The 40' falls were gorgeous, and the hike down on this cool spring day through the burn scars of several recent fires was interesting.
We decided to utilize our full vaccination by taking our first trip outside of California in over 15 months! The remote lava-filled destinations would keep Z safe and we'd still have a great time exploring. We settled on renting a townhouse on the outskirts of Klamath Falls and using the house as a basecamp to visit Lava Beds, Crater Lake and the Sprague River Valley. Z's quote for the trip came after entering the lava tubes for the first time: "This is the best thing I've ever done in MY LIFE!" So I think a good, safe and socially distant time was had by all. And please check-out the Hi-Res photospheres I made at the end of this post. Zooooooom in!
The trail also walks past the remnants of the Mountain King Mine, and I for one could not tell just how extensive the operation had once been a century ago. There are several interesting accounts of miners dying by asphyxiation in the mine shafts due to failure of a water flume that powered an air blower used pump fresh air deep into the workings.
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.