Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 9, 2017 - Fremont Peak and Mission San Juan Bautista

Title: August 9, 2017 - Fremont Peak and Mission San Juan Bautista
Hike Info : DescriptionExtra Photo's 

Trail head: Fremont Peak State Park
Hike Info:
Type: Hiking
Trail: Fremont Peak Trail and Service Road
Destination: Fremont Peak
Distance:  1.25 miles  1
Elevation Rise:  350'
Maximum Elevation: 3,169'
 1I did not turn on my GPS. The times and mileages are from a previous hike Sherri and I did five years ago for Capture California

When I saw this hike posted on meetup, I had two things: 
  • Yeah! John and Cathey are leading hikes again. 
  • Oh wow, a three hour drive for a mile and quarter hike.
Start of trail
But we signed up and are going. This will be a good short hike for me. The last hike I did, I rested as much as I walked. Lately my caloric intake is pretty low so my energy levels have been lacking. So a short hike, with others with a good uphill will be a challenge for me.
We meet at Eddie’s Bakery at 7am. There will be 12 on the trip, most of of them we know so this is a good group to crash and burn, if I do. This event will be in three parts:
Transmitter Towers
Sherri starts off driving and goes all the way to Casa de Fruita. We have in our car Nancy B who we have hiked with before and her friend Zar. After Casa de Fruita, I drive and am the lead car. First, Sherri prefers I drive on the curvy roads which is the final 10 miles up to the Fremont Peak State Park. Second, John wants me to lead us up the way to Fremont Peak State Park because he thinks I know where I am going-foolish man. So glad to take a quick peek at a map before we start off.

Fremont Peak State Park
Betty on the trail

We pay our fee and go up to the trailhead parking area-you can tell we are from Fresno because I find one of the few spots of shade. We gather up-by this time it is 10:15 and are ready to tromps off. John asks me to take the lead. We will see how I do. Even though it is a short hike and not much of a climb, I know I cannot go very fast or far and am concerned about even pushing myself after a hike a couple of weeks again. The good part is that my caloric intake has increased the last couple of days.

Sherri and Mike
We start out for a short distance on the paved service road, but then quickly turn off to the right (north) on a dirt trail. This part is only a gradual up. I can feel my lungs a moving even on this, but I am walking at a decent pace, at least nobody is on my back. Fortunately there is enough places to stop and enjoy the views. There is a cloud bank to the west covering both ocean and land, which I admire often. But we must stop and take a look at it. Then later we come across some stone steps which I comment it must be “natural” steps-they are not. But it is another stop and breath place for me.
We cross a small ridge and all of the small trees disappear with dried grass replacing it. But the cloud bank stretches as far as we can see. The trail gradually slopes up with a switchback or two before landing us on an unused road out of a transmitter station. Fortunately for me, this is a good place to stop and peruse the landscape, which I do.
View from the top
Now it is only one more section to the top. Lien advances in front of the old man, scrambling the last little bit. That last 100’ of the trail is an easy class 2 scramble up some rock, nothing hard, just not trail quality walking. I am glad to have made it to the shelf before the peak. Several others go up to the top, including Sherri, John and Betty. But I noticed that I was a bit wobbly on the rock below, so I stay on the shelf rather than climb. While up their Lien’s daughter sits close by and we talk a bit about schooling, life and photography. An enjoyable young woman. She even soothes my ego by saying that a lot of old people-my words-are not as active and interesting as us.
Lien, Cathey and Jeffery
We start down the peak. I manage to lag behind, but not from feeling bad, but just enjoying the time out. A short ways further, John and Jeffery are waiting for me, so we walk down together. Going down, I feel pretty good. We take the service road back instead of the trail-a bit shorter and much steeper. An enjoyable short walk. 

Fremont Peak

Our next stop is at Jardine’s de San Juan, a good Mexican restaurant. They have a garden eating area. Very relaxing. We sit with John, Cathey, Betty and Maria, enjoying the food and company. Evidently most of us do not feel like moving much because nobody makes an effort to get up or summon for the bill.

Mission San Juan Bautista

Mission Bells

But there is one more stop for our day: the mission. So we saunter over to it, walking around to it—all of a block or two. We stop by the livery, examining many of the coaches and wagons used in the various era’s of Euro occupancy of the area. Then over to the mission. But the mission is the Earthquake walk. Because she asked where the San Andreas Fault was I take her down to it.

Inside the Mission
Sherri, Betty and I go into the mission and see the various parts. There is a museum which explains its construction and life on the mission. Also a couple of old hymnals are under glass-both in Latin. The museum also contains a study of the different missions in silver gelatin. Finally to the interior of the mission.
I drive back to Fresno. Seems like this trip tired us out since I was the only one who stayed awake-a good thing since I was driving. That was OK as I was not sleepy or that tired. We made it back to Eddie’s by 6:00pm. Now it is time for me to flop on the couch and rest.

Extra Photo's
Sherri coming down from Fremont Peak-those are our cars!

View from Earthquake Walk

Mission Wall

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7-8, 2017 - Delilah Lookout

Title:  August 7-8, 2017 - Delilah Lookout
Hike Info : Description : Trail Lessons : Background : Extra Photo's : Animals 
Type: Lookout
Trail: Delilah


August 7, 2017

Do not let it be said that being a lookout is boring! We started a bit late from Fresno so we knew that we had to rush to go in-service with Sierra and Sequoia National Forests in time, that is 9:30. But usually that part is routine. When we make the turn off of Highway 180, we see shortly a crew of CCC workers clearing off dead trees from the side of the road. This is a good thing as with the pine bark beetle having done a number the last five years, it is good getting these potential dangers down.
Early clouds above the crest
A short time later, some bovines stare at us from the road side. But they are not bothersome. After passing the High Sierra Camp, there is a cat which takes off running down the road in front of us. We only get a quick look before it heads off down the hill. Sherri thinks it might be a mountain lion; I speculate on a bobcat.
When we pull in to Delilah, I go and get the keys while Sherri unpacks. When I come back I see that Sherri has company-a friendly doe has snuuck up behind her. I call attention to her-she seems friendly. We find out after reading a diary in the tower that this deer is called the Delilah Doe.
I charge up, well actually sort of make it to the top of the 80 steps of Delilah Lookout. Turn on the radios and read the board. Taking the weather will have to wait until after we go in-service. I notice on the board that there are channel restrictions* to the radio, so I call Mich at Buck Rock to see if these are still in effect-none.
So I go in service with Sequoia NF, or at least I think I do. I hear myself over at Sierra’s channel**. I explain I want to go into service with them as well. How did this happen? Probably the base radio was left with Sierra, usually it is with Sequoia. I change the priority and set it to Sequoia Command 3 and key the mic and I still hear it on Sierra. How is that? I am now concerned, not sure how I can talk on this. So I use the handheld to go into service with Sequoia. Next up, another call to Mich. She thinks I am set up right. So we leave it at that. I guess she will become my best friend while we are up here.
Later that morning we hear Shuteye Lookout call in a fire close to Junction Butte in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Way outside of our line of vision-about 45-50 miles away, behind a couple tall ridges. But as the day progresses, we hear more and more activity. It does not seem large, but they are saying it has room for growth. It was interesting how they go about some of the simplest things. Such as the helicopter requesting to land, because it is a wilderness area. Mechanized items need to go through a process within a Wilderness area. Later on, there is a request to “dip” into a lake. They needed to talk with their aquatics to see if it is OK-it was. Also permission was granted to use chain saws as well.
The rest of the day was pretty routine. Look around about every 20 minutes for smoke-only the general smokiness in the skies now. Also we make sure we are getting the important radio messages.
Turkey Vulture
In addition to the other wildlife, we see a turkey vulture roosting on a tree to the west of us. Later on there is the screech of a hawk. Sherri picks them out of the sky-I do not see them. She also sees a hang glider over Dude Ridge.

At 6pm, we go out of service. Sierra is easy, they take roll call. But Sequoia does not respond for a couple of times, raising the fear that the radio is not really reaching them. But eventually I get a response.
For my part, I am tired, so quitting time does not come soon enough. Sherri fixes a dinner of chicken and pasta. Not bad and it does me OK. Usually after dinner we will go down and walk a ways just to stretch our legs. Tonight, I am content with just sitting around talking. Night eventually comes and we are treated to a colorful, smoky sunset sky. One of those reasons why we keep coming back to the lookout. This is followed by a full moon. Only wish I was awake enough to enjoy it. But I fall asleep by 9:30.
Windcock against setting sun
Firefinder and evening sky

August 8, 2017

That was a good night sleep. Only got up once to go pee-in a bucket. I definitely did not want to walk down and then back up to go to the outhouse.
The thing about a lookout is you want to have a good clear view all the way around you, 360 degrees. So all the walls are windows. But this also means that all the light outside comes in. The full moon last night illuminated the lookout interior. It also means that morning light gently breaks over you around 5:30am, which is the time I woke up. By 6:00am I was up and about. It is a beautiful morning.
Pine Ridge morning shawdows
I have been thinking about our radio problems and decide that I would clear off all of the scanned channels and the priority channel and then reset them up on the base radio. That I do. I then click the mic and still hear it over on the Sierra side. Something is wrong with the base radio, so my plan of attack is to use the handheld for both sets of communication, leave copious notes and notify Mich and Wendy about the situation. That I do. When I talk with Mich, she says she is only hearing my clicking on the Sequoia NF side, not the Sierra. Why? She has one more suggestion-check the handheld for scan’s. Sure enough, that has been set to scan Sequoia channels-the source of my clicks, but not my original issue. Thank you Mich.
Oat Mountain
At 9:30, we go into service with both forests and begin our calm day. I find more web pages which we can use to help out hearing the status of the forest. Each morning we get the morning staffing as well as weather. All of this information is written down in the lookout logs. This a communication tool for the next people who staff the lookout after us.
There is much more buzz throughout the day about the Butte Fire we heard about yesterday. In the afternoon, we hear an order for a Type One Helicopter. These are the largest helicopters the forest has available to them. They are able to lift 700-2,300 gallons of water. The Butte Fire must be really going. It is now on InciWeb as well.
More clouds
By now it is getting a bit late. Sherri cooks another meal of chicken and pasta while I do another final scan-still no smokes. Delilah has one more radio trick for us. When Sierra calls our name to go out of service, our handheld is a low battery, so it will not transmit. Mich calls over to let us know and we issue a phone call to go out of service, after changing out the battery.

Fallen Branch
It is now a 90 minute drive home. Still like a bad horror movie, Delilah will not let us go. Delilah does not get many visitors and we find out why. A pretty good size oak branch has fallen across the road just inside of forest service area. We are able to move it and be on our way. We are glad to be back home, but wanting to go back up to Delilah again in September.

Trail LessonSometimes we jump to the unnatural conclusions being blinded to the more obvious answers.

*Channel Restrictions-Within the radios the frequencies we use get put into channels. Each channel is assigned a purpose. With Sequoia NF there are channels used for administrative or command channels. When there is a critical need, such as a fire which needs coordinating for its efforts, a channel will be used only for that purpose. Hence a channel restriction.
**Sierra and Sequoia. Delilah sits at the edge of both Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, as well as Kings Canyon National Park. Each has its own command centers, not only for fire but for law enforcement and other administrative purposes. Each uses different frequencies to communicate with its personnel. So when we need to communicate with each entity, we use different channels. At Delilah we have a base radio which we talk to Sequoia with; a handheld radio to talk with Sierra.

Extra Photo's
Gary at dusk

Sunset over Pine Flat Dam

Setting Sun

Fresno lighting up


Turkey Vulture

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28, 2017 - Crescent Meadow Wandering

Title: June 28, 2017 - Crescent Meadow Wandering
Hike Info : Description : Trail Lessons : BackgroundExtra Photo's : Animals : Flowers and Plants

Trail head: Crescent Meadow Parking Lot
Hike Info:
Type: Hiking
Trail: Crescent Meadow, Log Meadow, High Sierra Trail, Trail of the Sequoia’s
Destination: Loop
Distance:  7.30 miles 1
Start Time: 9:38
End Time:  3:25   
Travel Time:  5:48 (1.26 mph)
Moving Time:  3:54 (1.87 mph)
Elevation Rise:  1,312'
Maximum Elevation: 7,284'
GPS Tracks
 1Other people’s measurements were in the 9+ mile range. Most of these were based upon steps rather than distance.

Also the map and profile will be updated once my computer is revived.

Another meetup hike where we start at the Corner Bakery at 6:45. We have everybody accounted for and get off by 6:55. On our way up to Giant Forest, we stop to pick up Vicki  at Bear Mountain Pizza and continue on to Wuksachi Lodge near Lodgepole. A little disappointment-no coffee, but good restrooms. So we pull into the Crescent Meadows parking lot a few minutes after 9:30-the time I think we will get there. Ken, Rebecca and Betty are waiting for us.
Crescent Meadow
There is 16 of us in all. The loop is what Sherri and I have enjoyed and done several times. Several of our group has not been here before or at least not in a long time. They are in for a treat. Also our friends, Cathey and John, are with us. This is her maiden run on a trail since a surgery, so she is only doing a little bit of it-that is good. Wisdom in taking small steps now so she can do large steps later. Just a few paces down the trail, we stop to view Crescent Medows. At the end of the meadow is a nicely shaped Sequoia. Most people know what it is, but do guess. For some this is their first unobstructed view of one. This is always fun introducing people to their first views in the Sierra’s.

Tharp's Log

We go out along the east edge of Crescent Meadow. But there is a couple people who opted to go to Tharps Log in a more direct route. But then there is the third group who follow the herd mentality and follow the couple people who are taking the shorter route. Those of us who took the right route enjoyed the view of Crescent Meadow from all different perspectives. At the end of the meadow, we wait for the third group. Lee even goes back to find them with no success. So we take a branch of a trail and go over a short ridge and drop into Tharps Log, where we find both groups.
Log Meadow
We take a break here and I get another chance to talk. This one is about  who Tharp who was and how he hosted John Muir in 1875. This has been far enough for John and Cathey so they decide to go back how they came. Vicki and Jean decided to follow them as well. The rest of us go on the east side of Log Meadow for about a mile.
Moro Rock

There is a short path to bring us up to the High Sierra Trail and the junction with the Trail of the Sequoia. Later we'll do the Sequoia trail but now we follow the High Sierra Trail for a third of a mile to Eagle View. This is arguably the highlight of the trip. From Eagle View you can see down the Kaweah River to Lake Kaweah. Moro Rock rooms there to the west of us. Then we turn around and  look up the river to the east. There stands the divide between the Kern and Kaweah Rivers. Everyone wants to get their picture taken here. But somehow I forget to take pictures from here, and this is a clear view day. It still is a beautiful sight, and you can see the peaks in sharp distinction with the snow.
Several people have talked about going to Whitney-that would where the High Sierra Trail goes. I outline where the Trail goes and what it would take to go to Whitney. A bit of an undertaking. There are second thoughts in our group.  

Butt Ugly Tree
Burnt Tree and Lupine
After our High Sierra gawking, it is time to move on. We go back to the trail junction wait for everybody to catch up. I give people the option to go back to the parking lot-about half a mile away. But everybody decides to continue with the hike. Carol and John hike with us a little way, but need to leave, so they take a cut off.
The Trail of the Sequoias goes above  the lower groves, maybe about maybe 150 feet above them. Even though the trail does gently rise up another about 200 feet. We see younger Sequoias which people marvel at: they are surprised that these young Sequoia’s are  maybe a couple hundred years old and still  will live a couple thousand. There is a freshness to the trees in this area-the older, lower groves give you a feeling of ancientness. Sort of like in  The Lord of Rings, where the Ents talk about the younger, hasty ones. Ah to drink of the Ent-draught! Where can we find it on this walk?

Lunch time with Ken, Korina, and Gary
We look for a place to have lunch. The one which we find, I will say is not one of my great stopping places. But it is a suitable place where we could enjoy ourselves and rest our legs for about 20 or 30 minutes. And then is onward, as we are already taking more time than I thought we would. But that is OK, after all we are not into a rush mode but more into enjoyment of what we have around us.
Around one corner several people stop, and start pointing. I am experience enough to know that people just do not stop and point at nothing. Is it a deer? A squirrel? Maybe a cat? Nope it is a bear and her two cubs. But only those in the front were able to catch sight of them. Unfortunately I was maybe a hundred feet behind. So no bear sightings of me. It just so happens that about 5 years ago Sherri and I walked the same trail and saw a bear and her cub on top of this very ridge.
Ken and I then had a discussion about bears. I bring up a book I read called Speaking of Bears by Rachel Mazur with she which Ken is very interested in hearing about. Apparently he was her neighbor for a little while when she was a bear tech with SEKI.
Chief Sequoyah

A little while later, we reach the top of the trail and start are descent down into the older groves. I am thankful for this as I have now slip to the back of the line and I can feel that I am out of shape. But not terribly out of shape in that the legs are still strong, but the lungs is what's giving me problems.

When we reach the bottom, we come to the Chief Sequoyah tree. A short ways after that is a group of trees called The Senate. These trees are closely pack together inspiring all in our group, particular among those who have not seen Sequoia’s before today. I think a little political here and wonder how these trees can be so close together competing for resources but growing together, while our US Senate has a hard time deciding anything.

The Senate

Circle Meadow
From here are we have some choices about how to get back to Crescent Meadow. I think the group, not to mention myself,  is getting a little tired as a trail has been longer and harder than expected. So instead of going past the Cattle Cabin we will go directly around Circle Meadow and then cross over to Crescent Meadow.
The trail goes down the length of Crescent Meadow  and we finally see the cars. And then we see Cathey and John, Vicki and Jean waiting for us by a picnic bench. They are a good sight to see. We talk a bit and then load up in our cars for our trip back. Some go straight back to Fresno. We and another car stop in Squaw Valley for pizza at Bear Mountain Pizza. Then its back to Fresno. Sherri and I get back home around 8.
Great Western Divide

Trail Lesson: One person’s easy is another person’s hard.


Chief Sequoyah. The Chief Sequoyah tree is the 27th largest sequoia in the world, about 228' tall and 90' around at location  36.5625, -118.751389.

The Senate. Part of the Congress Trail which includes another group of trees called The House.

Cattle Cabin. From the sign at the Cattle Cabin:  This cabin was built by cattlemen who had acquired much of the Giant Forest land for grazing purposes prior to the establishment of Sequoia National Park in 1890. After the park’s establishment, the land was leased to men who supplied meat and milk to visitors and to the soldiers who guarded the park from 1891 through 1913. Circle Meadow, adjacent to the cabin, was the site of the slaughtering corral. By 1917 the last private holdings in Giant Forest had been purchased and deeded back to the government.

Extra Photo's

Admiring Sequoia's
The Senate

Indian Paintbrush and Kaweah River

Sequoia Root System


Leopard Lily and Tiger Swallowtail

 Flowers and Plants

Western Wallflower
Indian Paintbrush