With family together in Big Pine for a few days we decided to take a hike yesterday, December 22 to explore some of the petroglyphs on the volcanic tablelands near Bishop, California. Much of the tablelands are managed by BLM and and this suited us as a dog-friendly hike since we had three dogs among the six of us. This area is sprinkled with petroglyphs. Some are readily accessible by car, others require some rock scrambling and local knowledge. We visited two sites. I hesitate to say much about the locations since some of these rock art features have been vandalized or ripped off in recent years. A sorry state on the lack of respect we seem to have for the environment, our cultural treasures and our public lands. There is little known about when these artworks were created. If you wish to find information on the tablelands and the petroglyphs, please contact the Bishop Visitor’s Center.
Our last stop on our fall color trip, on October 12, before heading home was Lundy Canyon, where we found a brilliant display of aspen with fall color on the slopes above Lundy Lake. Lundy Canyon is usually a good place to see fall color; above the lake the aspen were loosing their leaves, but at the elevation of the lake, and lower there was plenty of color.
Our final leg home took us through Yosemite National Park on Highway 120 where we noted that the dogwood and oaks were showing color near the western park entrance.
Overall we logged 2322 miles over 15 days, exploring the Eastern Sierra from Sonora Pass to Big Pine, then on through Nevada to Southern Utah where we made quick visits to Bryce and Zion National Parks and Cedar Breaks National Monument. The highlight of our trip though was the two nights we spent camped on the edge of a canyon in Kaibab National Forest. Quiet, remote with a grand view of the sunrise over the canyons below.
One of the frustrations of the trip was our lack of internet access. My intention was to share stories and photos every few days, and it seems between the lure of all the attractions and a dirth of WiFi connections, given our proclivity to travel off the beaten track, prevented me from realizing that goal. For the future, we both agreed that less driving, more time on foot, and more down time is in order. Stay tuned, as I work through the 2500 photos I collected I’ll be posting more.
Day six of our fall color trip. We set up “camp” in a dispersed camping area near Hill Top Campground a few miles off of I95 in Nevada. Not quite as scenic as the established camp, but we stopped here due to a road closure. Enroute to Cedar Breaks today. We left the San Francisco Bay Area (home) on 9/27, heading up Highway 108 towards Sonora Pass. Not much color on 108, nor Virginia Lakes. Found a few patches of color at the Green River Campground. Spectacular color at Sage Hen Crest and the South Fork of Bishop Creek. Photos will follow when I have WiFi to upload from my laptop. WiFi seems scarce with our preferred method of travel; out Four Wheel Camper. More to follow on that account also. Stay tuned.
Several people have asked me about our venture into four-wheel camping, so here’s the story in a nutshell. On Monday, September 11, we drove our truck to the Four Wheel Camper plant in Woodland and returned with our new camper. We’ll be taking it on the road for a two week road trip later this month. The story behind this purchase started on our road trip to Utah in May. (Well in all actuality, it probably starts much earlier that that with many camping and backpacking trips.)
While our Subaru Forester was a capable vehicle for taking us on camping adventures, we started looking at other rigs on the road and thinking about what the ideal vehicle might be for us. We like to get off the beaten track, so a four wheel drive with a small footprint was a priority. We looked at Sportmobile, and with a year-long wait and a price tag that was a bit intimidating we decided to look at pop-up campers. The Four Wheel Camper facility is basically in our back yard, an hour’s drive. Everything we read seemed to give Four Wheel a top rating. We determined that a visit to the Four Wheel Camper plant was in order, so on Saturday morning, May 20th, we planned a visit.
A visit to the facility and a look at the features available and we were sold. Having decided on a camper, we would also need a truck. The sales staff at Four Wheel suggested a Toyota Tacoma. Following our morning visit to Woodland we stopped in Davis for lunch, and I suggested we stop at a Toyota dealer on the way home so we could look at a Tacoma. Long story short; we ended up driving a Tacoma TRD 4×4 Off-Road long bed, double cab off the lot. And now three months later we are ready to roll.
September 2 found me on the water again with fellow BASK Skills Clinic students and our amazing crew of instructors. With a heat wave baking the San Francisco Bay Area, playing on (and in) the water was the place to be. Following our intro day and four weekends of skills training, this was an optional day. We opted to spend the morning practicing paddle strokes and rescues. I typically wear a dry suit when paddling on the Bay, since the typical weather pattern is a cool wind and cool water. With temperatures approaching 100 degrees though, I opted to wear my short Farmer John and a t-shirt. Along with the spray skirt and PDF I was quite comfortable in the boat, and in the water. After spending the morning on drills, somebody suggested we paddle to Treasure Island, and off we went. Here’s a link to our track if you want to see our route. We have one more adventure left in the skills clinic; that’s an overnight kayak camping trip on September 23. Stay tuned.
Sunday, June 25th found us packing our camping gear for a quick trip to the Sonoma coast. One of our goals was to look for dog friendly beaches. We had reserved a campsite at Gualala Point Regional Park, a walk-in site, since that was what was available at the late date we decided to go camping; a lovely site on the river and quiet. This park is managed by the Sonoma County Regional Parks. Unlike the state parks that are not open to dogs on trails, most of the Sonoma County Regional Parks are open to dogs on a leash. There is also beach access at a number of places along Sea Ranch. Our beach explorations took us through redwoods and along fern lined trails and out to the coast. A refreshing get-away for two humans and a dog.
With clear skies, calm wind and a mid-day high tide we decided to head for Drake’s Estero, one of our favorite places to kayak. We loaded the kayaks on the car, and headed for the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station where we had breakfast. The Morning Bun Coffee Cake is something you won’t want to miss.
After a quick breakfast we headed to the Estero, only to find the gate was closed and locked. Drakes Estero is undergoing habitat restoration while the National Park Service removes the remains of the oyster farm; some seven miles of wooden racks.
So Plan B was Heart’s Desire Beach. The beach was deserted, save for a park maintenance truck. It was almost surreal having the whole park to ourselves. Without delay we launched our boats and paddled towards the ocean, stopping at a little beach for lunch, and then continuing to Marshall Beach, exploring some of the side passages that are not normally accessible at lower tides. Our journey covered six miles. You can view the track log here, and view more photos here. My wife Joann tells me that paddling a kayak on Tomales Bay is something everybody should have on there bucket list.