Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 27, 2018 - Delilah Lookout

Title: June 27, 2018 - Delilah Lookout
Hike Info : Description : Trail Lessons : Background : Extra Photo's 

Trail head: Delilah Lookout
Hike Info:
Type: Lookout

The sun started showing a bit of light on the farthest mountains well before I opened my eyes. By 0550, my eyes could not restrain from looking to see what the sun was going to show me today. What I saw was the air was clearing and the day promised to be pretty good, After Sherri gets up, I fix our morning breakfast-oatmeal. Then it is time to tidy up and before you know it, it is time to start our lookout duties.
Before we go inservice, we take the weather readings-visibility is a lot better than yesterday. Then at 0930 we go into service with Porterville. We also radio SNF between a couple of fires (Homestead and Cone) that we are inservice and I think I hear a response. Now we go along our normal day. Such as our 1000 weather and staffing from Porterville. And the 1100 check in with SNF. But wait, they do Buck Rock and other lookouts, but not Delilah. Why? After consulting with Buck Rock, Sherri radio’s in that we are inservice and SNF responds. All is well, at least we think.
During down times, when we are not scanning, we practice our sightings, particularly around Bald Mountain in Fresno County, which is 2500 50’ from us. So we spend a lot of time examining how the sight of Bald Mtn compares to what the topo map shows. Then it is off to looking at other points in the opposite direction. We do some periodic scans while looking at points northeast of us.
Then at 1255 we hear on the radio three beeps-this says that there is a reported fire. Where? Then Porterville says reported fire on Hills Valley Road close to Highway 180. Wait! This is in the exact direction we have been looking at with Bald Mtn! We swing the firefinder around and pick up an azimuth and distance of the fire from Delilah (2350 40’, 13 miles). We radio in a confirmation of the fire as there is smoke billowing between two hills in the area. Several of our units from the Hume Lake Ranger District respond to this CalFire incident. They called it the Anchor Fire because of being at Anchor Ave and Hills Valley Rd. We monitor the smoke from the area all day, but it is diminishing.
Left is how the smoke actually was, while on the right is how it looked like from Delilah
The big question is why did we not see the smoke? 15 degrees away from where we were looking and 8 miles farther, we should have seen something if there was smoke then. Just 45 minutes previous we were looking intently in that directly and saw nothing. I do not think we were blind. Probably by the time the smoke started being visible, we were concentrating on looking at other features and our map reading. Note to selves: take time to look around as well as studying.
View to northeast-not what we were studying. Castle Peak on right with Mt Goodard in rear on left.
Helicopter 522 requests flight following from Porterville. While this does not follow us, we decide this would be a good drill for us to figure out what does this Flight Following look like? Basically it is when the aircraft is in the air, there is a timed interval which the aircraft wants to check in with a ground unit. The ground unit keeps track of location and time of last contact. This is in case the aircraft does not respond, a search can be instigated based upon direction, and last coordinates. We have not done this for real, so we are just getting used to what it looks like if we are ever called on to assist an aircraft in this fashion..
At the 1600 SNF lookout checkin occurs. We are all ready to answer the call that we were there. But once again they skipped over us. So Sherri radio’s in to say we were inservice and have been since 0930. Of course there is confusion of are we going out of service or in service? Just recording that we are in service. At 1800 we go out of service with both Porterville and SNF.

Mystery Truck
While am I down at the outhouse, Sherri phones saying there is a vehicle on the road (12S19B) to the west of us. Nobody travels that road. We think that it is closed. So we monitor their travels. They go up a ridge opposite of us. They try to climb up an old fire break which was created for the Rough Fire. Then come down and stop at the junction of the fire break and road. Two people get out and disappear, a third stays with the truck. Something to keep track of and wonder what are they doing up there? This is the question which we take up. Are they ne’er-do-wells? Or just campers? We understand there are pot farms in the area. Are they part of that? The sun goes down and we have kept the lights off so we can plot their movements, and maybe a bit incognito on our part. But surely they know we are up there. Getting a bit paranoid are we? Yes! Just remember we are a 45 minute drive from Highway 180. We have locked the lower gate, like we do every night. Still an uncomfortable feeling.

Dinner at the lookout

On the other hand, with a full moon, it is a wonderful evening. We see it rising over Park Ridge and somehow that is comforting.

Trail LessonThe basic duty of a fire lookout is to look out. Take time to DO, not only study.


Anchor Fire. It grew to 76 acres and was considered out on July 1st at 7:40am.

Extra Photo's
Moon over Park Ridge

North Fork of the Kings

More Moon over Park RIdge

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 26, 2018 - Delilah Lookout

Title: June 26, 2018 - Delilah Lookout
Hike Info : Description : Animals : Flowers and Plants

Trail head: _Delilah Lookout
Hike Info:
Type:  Lookout


 Today is the first of three days up at Delilah Lookout. We were up there once this year, for a day, so we have a mixture of excitement to be back up there and the question of, are we really ready to spend three days up there. We leave Fresno about 0725, a bit later than expected, so when we get to Delilah, we will be rushing a bit. We get to the lookout a bit late-0910, so rush to get set up for our 0930 check in with both Sequoia (Porterville) and Sierra National Forests(SNF).
We take our weather readings, checked the various logs and see in general, what the state of the lookout was. Normal stuff. 1000 comes and Porterville gives their weather and staffing. I have a page where I get to what they read for their report, but we need to take the staffing over the air. Such a hard life.
Delilah Springs Road closed due to falling logs
There are some fires in SNF land, but well outside of our visual. But one fire which is affecting is is the Lions Point fire in SNF near Mammoth, about 55 miles away. We could see the area last week when we backpacked to Vanderberg Lake, but did not see any smoke there. But today there has been a pretty good haze, limiting visibility. At one point, there was a big smoke cloud coming down both the Middle and South Forks of the Kings. I called over to Buck Rock to see if there was something happening up their way. no-she sees the cloud, but thinks it is from the Lions Point fire.

Delilah View of Dunlap Fire
There was a sound from Porterville which got our hearts beating-three beeps. This means that a fire is being called out. Then we heard where it was-just six to eight miles from us! We hear P31 report that he saw a fire on his way in. We cannot see it, not even the smoke from it. Pine Ridge is between us and the fire. But Park Ridge Lookout calls in a confirmation. Pretty soon we hear the area fire crews responding to the incident. There is a plane-not sure what plane I am seeing in the area, so I phone Porterville dispatch and tell them. They are pretty sure it is one of theirs. The plane is right at ridge line, so we cannot see the insignia’s. After an hour, or maybe more, they get the fire out. Back to the routine of being a lookout, not that we were involved, nor did we stop observing our area.
Can you see the smoke? Look above the dead tree in center right. View from Park Ridge Lookout, Courtesy of Wendy Garton
Spotter Plane from Delilah Lookout
 At 1100 we do the SNF lookout check-in. No problems with the radio battery. In past years we have had a lot of issues where SNF could not hear us because the battery would go dead when we checked in. This is a good sign for this year.
A little while later, we see a truck come up the road. Looks like it is ready to do business, since there is a ladder and other maintenance gear in it. It is Mike-we meet him last year. He is here to check on a couple of things. First, one of the camera’s has gone out.We talk about about the solar panel situations and the charging/discharging patterns. He particularly wants to know what is plugged in at night. Really not much. Since no one was here last night, maybe a clock was on, the web cameras (which he says are automatically powered off at night), and the wifi. This puzzles him-he thinks that maybe a battery is going out. During the day the panels are charging up OK, but at night, the voltages drop considerably. We also talk about the phone situation. He thinks that since the phones are VOIP, the phones dropping or having poor connection maybe due to traffic on the network connection. By the time we get done talking, it is approaching 1400. Mike’s next stop? Mammoth to put in some cameras to monitor the Lions Point fire. I have learned a great deal about how the network Delilah is set up with.

Around 1300 two vehicles come up the road and park below the tower. A couple guys get out and they ask how to get to the Kings River? You have to go around Pine Flat Dam as Davis Road and other roads in the area is closed. They are not satisfied. They say their friend has a gold mine close to Davis Flat and trying to get there. But it has been many years since they were there and not sure of its exact location. I told them all roads into the area are closed and they really should check with the Hume Lake Ranger District about how to access their mine. They mumble and go off. I am assuming that if there is an active mine in the area, it is not a gold mine. According to some notes I have about Sampson and Davis Flats, there was some quartz and placer (gold) mines in the area. But they are all closed down.
Cloud watching
By the way, while I have been goofing off, Sherri has done the routine stuff like doing scan’s, taking weather readings and listening the the radio. Also there was a report of some missing personal keys, so I went down to look for them with no success.
Then Kathy comes up. She is the head of Buck Rock Foundation and we have been expecting her. The word of warning: beware of head of foundations bearing gifts, they may be wanting something, or could be a genuinely nice person. In this case it is the later. Kathy stayed with us pretty much all afternoon. I went over some of the the things on my Delilah useful links page. Also we talked about various things affecting the lookout. She also went through some of the refresher material to make sure we were familiar with them.
Lowering the flag
One of the things which we do in the lookout is observe changes in weather. Being mostly a cloud free day, when a cloud pop’s over Park Ridge, we take notice. In this case, the cloud was of unusual shape and we try to imagine what it is-I think it is a cow with horns. When I posted it on Facebook, I got lots of answers, such as a CareBear, a genie, The Hulk, and many others. A friend posted that it looked like the final cloud from the space shuttle Columbia disaster-it does, and that really sobers things up here.
Dinner with a view

A little after 1700, Kathy left. We did a few more scans and then. It was time to go out of service with both SNF and Porterville at 1800. It has been a busy day, But there is some compensation for the hard working volunteers up in the tower: there is no place in Fresno to eat which has a better ambience for eating than we have up in the lookout. Just spectacular as the sun sets, turning the skies red, watching the lights come on. Wonderful. We get to bed around 2030 and turn off our devices around 2115-Sherri in bed, looking out across the Mill Flat Creek drainage at the rising moon and I on the floor. What a good life.


Western Taneger

Western Taneger

Flowers and Plants
Butterfly Mariposa Lily

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 19, 2018 - Vanderberg Lake to Fernandez Trailhead

Title: June 19, 2018 - Vanderberg  Lake to Fernandez Trailhead
Hike Info : Description : Trail LessonsMenu : Extra Photo'sFlowers and Plants

 Trail head: Vanderburg Lake
Hike Info:
Type: Backpacking
Trail: Lillian Lake Trail
Destination: Fernandez Trailhead
Distance:  4.71 miles 1
Start Time: 10:31
End Time:     3:10
Travel Time:  4:39 (1.01 mph)
Moving Time:   2:43 (1.73 mph)
Elevation Rise: 446 '
Descent: 1,637‘
Maximum Elevation: 8,232'
 1Because of some confusion of where I was in relationship to Rose and Sherri, I backtracked about a quarter mile to see if I had missed them. Also as a note, someplace on this hike, the elevation readings were dropped. So the elevation information is off of Google Earth’s estimates.
Distance:  5.15 miles
Travel Time:   4:39 (1.11 mph)
Moving Time:  3:01 (1.71 mph)
Elevation Rise:  571'
Descent: 1,762‘

Got up 7:45. I must have been somewhat rested as I woke up several times last night and stayed awake for awhile. Nothing profound. I had a short quiet time and then went exploring about how to get across Madera Creek. Had our breakfast and then got things packed. Evidently breaking camp is not our specialty as it took us until 10:30 to hit the trail.
Rose Log Crossing
From my earlier scouting of the area, I thought I had a plausible way across the creek without taking off boots. But I seem to have misplaced it. Am I getting that old? This is the third time this summer which I was not on the ball in my navigational skills.

Rose and Sherri and a steep place

We do cross Madera Creek safely: Sherri and I rock hopping; Rose doing a high log balancing act. We are downstream a little ways from the trail, So I propose we head up the slope and then angle over to get to the trail. We do this without too much struggle, and nor buck brush or manzanita. The trail comes up shortly and we are almost at the top of a ridge.
From the top of the ridge, we lookout over where the waters drain into the San Joaquin River. This includes the areas where we have hiked, but also views all the way to the crest of the Sierra. After returning, we see that there was a fire called the Lion’s Point fire straight across from us. But we do not see any smoke with our naked eyes or later on our the pictures. Mt Ritter is still with us, but not for long.
Lion's Point Fire Location

As we descend, we realize how steep the ascent was. We also get into more the meadows which we passed up earlier. There are two things which really impress us about these meadows, first is the variety of flowers in bloom, Particularly the Hartweig Iris seem to be all over the place. The second is the abundance of mosquitoes which have found us so quickly
View of the Sierra Crest
After a quick stop to film the flowers and meadows before the mosquitoes get to me, I take off and catch up with Rose. She wants me to pass her-I guess it is a bit intimidating to have this huge person pondering dirt right behind you. I think Sherri is in front of me, so I hurry a bit to catch up with her. It feels good to stretch out my legs a bit and the general direction is down, not steeply. So I do pretty good. After going on close to an hour, there has been no sign of Sherri, which gets me to thinking, where is she? I hit the junction with Lillian Lake and decide to continue on down to the Norris Trailhead junction. Still no Sherri. So I drop my pack and head backpack and head back to the previous junction and wait.
One of many meadows
After waiting there for awhile, Rose and Sherri appear. Where has Sherri been? Well when I was talking my pictures, Sherri was actually behind me. So when I took off, I lost both of them. They were wondering what happened to me and now they know! I was looking for them and they for me.

We had a few snacks. A few pictures on top of a small rise and we got our final view of the tip of the Sierra Crest. Just a good way to say goodbye to the area. And then we were off. It was about another mile and a half down to the trailhead. But it seemed like it took us awhile to o this easy downhill. May have been the heat. But we got back to Rose’s vehicle at Fernandez Trailhead in good shape and good spirits.
The drive back was long, but not as eventful as the drive to the trailhead. We stopped at El Cid’s for dinner. Sonya met us there and we had a pleasant conversation. Then went across the parking lot to Remier’s for ice cream. A good way to end a trip.

Trail Lesson: You never know how bad of a climb it was until you come down it. Sherri

 Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Oatmeal and add-ins, such as dried peaches, strawberries, nuts, granola. Tang. Ritz Crackers,  Peanut Butter, Nutella
El Cid restaurant
Reimer’s ice cream
Clif Bar, GORP, Propel, CytoMax, Scratch, Coffee Candy, Jelly Belly

Extra Photo's
Mt Ritter

Gary, the missing hiker

Unnamed meadow

Unnamed meadow

Snow patch

Flowers and Plants


Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18, 2018 - Vanderburg Lake to Lillian Lake

Title: June 18, 2018 - Vanderburg Lake to Lillian Lake
Hike Info : DescriptionBackground : Menu : Extra Photo's : Animals : Flowers and Plants

Trail head: Vanderburg Lake
Hike Info:
Type:  Backpacking
Trail: Lillian Lake Loop
Destination: Lillian Lake
Distance:  4.01  miles 1
Start Time: 11:05
End Time:     4:53
Travel Time:   5:47 (0.69 mph)
Moving Time:  3:21  (1.20 mph)
Elevation Rise:  777'
Descent: 756‘
Maximum Elevation: 9,030'
 1We lost the trail-see below. I went looking for it. 
The data below includes my wanders when we were off the trail.
Distance:  4.38  miles
Travel Time:   5:47 (0.76 mph)
Moving Time:  3:41  (1.19 mph)
Elevation Rise:  879'
Descent: 808‘

Vanderburg Lake
I woke up at 6:30 and got up by 7:00. It seems a bit warmer with no wind, but there is a lot of moisture on the inside of the tent’s rain fly. Guess we sweat a lot when we sleep.
After doing my morning business, I went for a wander. The wander took me to the inlet of the lake, on the northern shore. This is part of Madera Creek which comes from Lady Lake. There is a nice big campsite there-probably a packers site. I had my quiet time there, continuing in Psalm 119. A place to meditate and think.

Madera Creek

Vanderburg Lake

When I got back to camp, Rose is up by the lake and Sherri is getting up. No rush to get going. We have decided to do a day hike to Lillian Lake.

Mt Ritter
We get out of camp around 11:15. We head up the same trail we did yesterday, towards Lady Lake, but instead of turning, we go straight at the junction. Now about 30 yards from the junction, we head up what looks like a sandy trail. After awhile it peters out and we start following false leads. I finally head out, scouting for the trail. After covering much ground, I do not find the trail, but get an idea where it is going. So I get Sherri and Rose and we set out across some granite slabs. It actually is pretty nice walking, at least I think so. We climb up, taking our time. Shortly after getting to the spot where I had previously been, we spot the trail.

Clouds to the east
Little Dam at Lillian Lake
Shortly afterwards,we go over a saddle and drop into Staniford Lakes. I was calling it Stanford, but discovered the error while researching the name. The trail meanders around some of the lakes, making for some pleasant walking, if it was not for the winged, blood sucking, swamp inhabitants. When we clear the lakes, and most of the mosquitos, we stop for lunch out on a small point, and in the shade. A late lunch, but when you start as late as we did, a late lunch is what we get.
The trail starts up a ridge of about ¾ of a mile. While an exposed trail and we are in the afternoon sun, there is compensation-the views. That is we are able to see across to Mt Ritter and up the San Joaquin River. But we do not spend much time view chasing, at present.
After topping the ridge, we descend into the outlet creek for Lillian. Soon we get to the lake itself. Rose notes a small retaining wall, probably a small dam to raise the lake level. Was there mining around here? So easy to only see what is here now and not the past. I need these reminders that everyplace has its own history, even if it is not in book form.

Lillian Lake
One of the Staniford Lakes
Lillian Lake is pleasant enough to look at. I would not mind camping here. But yesterday's lakes were more pleasant and refreshing to me. We stay around for about half an hour, relaxing. Sherri thinks this is where she, Andrea and Steven put out a fire several years back. 

Coming back, we mostly retrace our steps, with the exception of our little cross country excursion. Those views which we did a cursory glance at before? We now spend the time examining. We can see where the JMT goes and the Red Cones by Red’s Meadow. To the south, one of the small knobs in the distance may be Mt Goddard, a point I look for whenever possible. Many pictures are taken, which do not capture the grandness of what we are seeing.

Which way would you go?
We do see a couple people before returning to camp. I also intentionally lag behind-unlike my normal slowness of late. I am interested in seeing where I went on the wrong trail this morning. I cannot say I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
Once back at camp, we do not disturb a whole lot. Water is drawn, mosquitoes are swatted and relaxing begins. A group or two pass us by. Dinner of Beef Stew is cooked and devoured. Rose, Sherri and I talk for awhile before heading to our tents for another night of restful sleep.

Andrea says the fire really was at Staniford Lakes.
It was a single tree,which probably had been struck by lightning two weeks before.

Also as a fire note, the Lion's Point fire had been burning since the start of June. This was pretty much in line of sight with the Red Cones area. But looking at the pictures, there was not a sign of smoke. Shortly after we were there, the fire exploded into a multi-thousand acre fire.

 Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Oatmeal and add-ins, such as dried peaches, strawberries, nuts, granola. Tang.
Ritz Crackers, Peanut Butter, Nutella
Clif Bar, GORP, Scratch, Coffee Candy

Extra Photo's
Sierra Crest

Southeast along the Crest
Rose and Gary in his Angle of Repose

Lillian Lake

East looking. As a note: The Lion's Point fire happened in the center left of the picture

Lillian Lake
Gary and the Mountains

East towards the Sierra Crest

East towards the Crest

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Flowers and Plants