Sunday, April 29, 2018

Lake Mary Loop

Yesterday I parked at Twin Lakes above Mammoth and hiked back into the Lakes Basin.

An ice bound picnic table on the shore of Lake Mary with Crystal Crag off in the distance.

I like the contrasting and complimenting colors here.

Mammoth Mountain

I saw a couple cross country skiers and a few snowmobilers but no other hikers.

I recently got an iPhone 8 and I've been testing out the camera. It actually has nice dynamic range. It could be a little crisper but hey, for the sensor size it's doing good. I like it.

Some nice red tint.

I hiked 7.8 miles and there wasn't too much elevation gain at all. It was a nice workout because it was all snow.

The wind was 15-25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. It put a chill in the air.

There were some nice clouds forming and disappearing over the crest and they were providing some interesting light.

I'm ready for less snow.

Crystal Crag

Twin Falls above Twin Lakes.

The Sierra Nevada contain exquisite beauty.

Mammoth Mountain still produces toxic gases that kill trees and also killed three ski patrollers in 2006.

The thing about snow hiking is that it doesn't matter if it's two feet deep or twenty, you're still walking on top of it.

So many great compositions out here.

I see a heart in the ice.

This was a really nice, enjoyable hike. 

Heading back down to the trailhead.

The Mammoth Crest in back with Crystal Crag, Twin Falls and Twin Lakes.

I went back out there today and it started snowing on me. The wind was atrocious.

I very much recommend hiking back in the Lakes Basin if you ever find yourself in the Mammoth Lakes area. The path I took is really only accessible after the cross country ski season closes and before the roads open for the season, but don't let that deter you. There are tons of trails to hike in the area.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mammoth Rock Hike

I started my hike from Snow Creek Golf Course and took the Mammoth Loop Trail to Sherwin Creek Road so the first mile and a half were downhill or level. Once the trail starts climbing it does so rather quickly. The entire trail only gains about 850 feet and most of it is within a mile of the trailhead parking area.

This is the trail. The snow was in great condition. It wasn't consolidated but firm in the shade and a little splashy in the sun. I only post-holed three times. I was able to hold my footing very well on the steep side slopes. I carried micro spikes but never felt the need to use them.

The first unobstructed view of Mammoth Rock.

Here you can see the snow covered trail traversing below Mammoth Rock.

Hiking in snow, even good snow, is a great way to build core strength.

No other tracks but mine. I guess maybe it's early season for this trail, haha. The snow covered mountains on the far horizon are the White Mountains.

In this photo you can see the White Mountains in the distance and the Glass Mountains in front of them. The Glass Mountains mark the distant rim of the Long Valley Caldera and the scrub covered hill in the photo is the Resurgent Dome. The Long Valley super-volcano erupted here 760,000 years ago and deposited ash as far east as Nebraska.

Splashy snow but I wasn't slipping. 

Looking east from near Mammoth Rock.

Very fresh bear tracks.

Last I heard, the Mammoth Lakes bear population was 34 in town. They employ a bear specialist, much like a dog catcher. He has a show on Animal Planet called The Bear Whisperer.

The Mammoth motto.

Cool story. I hope she knows.

Altogether I hiked 6.7 miles, about 2 of it in snow and total elevation gain was only 850 feet.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

PCT 2017 Week 2

Scissors Crossing to Idyllwild

March 29, 2017

I took a near-0 (defined as an under 10 mile day) day and a zero day (zero miles hiked) at Stagecoach Trails. Me and the landscape guy got in trouble for taking the door off it's hinges. Haha. Oh well. 

I had to buy diaper rash cream from an attractive clerk yesterday. She knew who it was for. Ah, the glamorous life of a long-distance hiker.

I met a cool dude named Steve yesterday. I had seen him previously on Day 1 but just briefly. He's hiking but he's also moving his van up the trail with him, at least until he meets his family in Utah in a couple weeks. He and I shot the shit for an hour or so. He's from Jackson, WY and his ex works at the same place I worked there. I don't think I met her, though. Steve gave me a ride to the trail this morning. He was off to run errands and then drive to Big Bear and hitch back to Warner Springs to continue hiking. I'm seriously thinking about van life. I would love to have a Sprinter Van. My dream of being a homeless drifter has come to fruition, now I want to live down by the river in a van. Haha. But seriously.
The hike today went up into the super-bloom. It's always spectacular coming up the switchbacks out of Scissors Crossing but today it was a sea of gold. I was digging it.
I got on trail two hours later than I wanted and I got caught in the heat fairly early. By the time I reached 3rd Gate water cache I was beat. I pushed on another 2 miles for a total of 15.
I pitched my tent in the high chaparral and didn't notice until it was too late that I had a neighbor. His name is Matt and he's from Chicago. I just found out Matt owns a Thermarest Neo-air. I now hate matt. I'm not even going to capitalize his name anymore. I'm going to totally discriminate against Neo-air owners this year. I'm going to start leading with that question. "What kind of sleeping pad do you have?" "Oh, a Neo-air? You suck. I hate you. Go away." Yep. Winning friends everywhere I go. How can any salesman let someone walk out of the store with one of those? Ahhhhh, that sound. It's a travesty. An abomination. Repugnant. It doesn't belong out in nature. Shame on you, Thermarest. Seriously, wtf were you thinking? Everyone with a Neo-air should take sleeping pills so that they don't move at all during the night. I fucking hate those things.

Bird's nest cactus. I think. Hell, I don't know.

The grade of the trail through the San Filipe Hills is great. You're always climbing but you rarely notice it.

This area is like a botanical garden.

Bloom much?

Desert morning.

The cactus on the right with the dark base is a teddy bear cholla.

Everything was blooming.

There is nothing quite like taking a long hike. The freedom is unmatched.

Ocotillos, Granite Mountain and the Pacific Crest Trail.

Flowers every direction I look.

This little guy thought he was hiding.

Another view of the sneaky snake.

3rd Gate water cache. I'm very appreciative of the people that maintain this.

March 30, 2017

Quite a lot of wind last night. At least it masked the noise from my camp neighbor.
I needed to pick up some food items from the Warner Springs Community Center store so I was up and away early.


Another day, another snake.

I stopped at the 100 mile marker and had a Rolling Rock beer that I had been carrying since mile 77. Who cares if it was only 0930? 

That's Palomar Mountain in the distance. If you look hard you can see the Palomar Observatory.

An old metate or grindstone.

Magenta paintbrush.

Eagle Rock near Warner Springs, California.

Some areas of SoCal are lush.

After I set up camp, two AH-1 Cobras came snooping around. I felt hunted. It was awesome.

I hiked 18 miles today. That's my biggest day this year.

I have been in a bubble of solitude on the trail until today. I ran into about a dozen hikers at Warner Springs and the male/female ratio tipped back in the right direction.
March 31, 2017

I saw Steve again in Warner Springs, he's hiking out tomorrow.

My tent was mostly out of the wind last night and just after dark the temp dropped quickly. About 9:00pm it started raining. It has rained on me here each of the last 3 years.

This morning was a fine, cool morning just made for hiking. I had about a 3700 foot climb but the trail is graded nicely, so it wasn't bad. Agua Caliente Creek is flowing great.

Bad stuff.

These cacti look like feet with toes.

Afternoon siesta time.

April 1, 2017

The first few miles this morning were uphill but after that it was all downhill. Like 13 miles downhill. Normally I'd be digging that but I'm now the proud owner of a new ailment. It seems that the spot where some tendons attach to my tibia has become pissed off. Why this is happening is a mystery to me. It started a few days ago and has gotten progressively worse. Today it was screaming at me while descending. You know, for 13 miles. I'll take a day off in Idyllwild and throw some ice on it. Hell, maybe 2 day. I like Idyllwild.

A seemingly lost lenticular cloud.

The farther down I descended today, the hotter it got. I've only had 2 semi-hot days and it makes me SO glad to be coming through early. In 3 or 4 weeks it's going to be toasty through here.

I ran into Steve and Massacre at the top of the climb this morning. They're staying a few miles back at Tule Spring with some other folks.

I've seen hundreds of different flower species while hiking but I've never seen this one. The weird thing is that this was the only one of it's kind that I seen.

I'm camped in this little canyon and it has come alive as darkness fell. There's two birds, of different species, chatting away in the branches above me. There's a poorwill on one side of the canyon and a dove on the other. A solitary frog is looking for a mate and a moth is trying desperately, and noisily, to extricate itself from a bed of leaves. There's something walking through some leaves not far away. Probably a deer. I can't recall an auditory scene quite like this one. The desert canyon just woke up as the sun sat. Very cool. Now where is the coyote to top it off?

Last night after I finished journaling I went to go pee before bed. As I went to stand up, I realized, with a bit of consternation, that I couldn't bear weight on my right leg. Using my hiking pole as a crutch I finished my business. I was right at 12 miles from the nearest highway. While at rest there was no pain but standing up was excruciating. WTF?
I awoke this morning and was able to weight bear, but there was significant pain. I moved around a bit breaking down camp and it seemed to loosen up. I made the 12 mile trek to Hwy 74 and the pain grew with each passing mile. I didn't even try to hitch, I just took off limping down the highway toward the Paradise Valley Cafe. It's rumored to have the best burger on the entire PCT.

I had a Jose burger at the Paradise Valley Cafe and I have to say, it's a good burger, but it doesn't come close to the Hot Shot burger at Schat's Roadhouse in Bishop, California. I'm open to other people's opinion on the subject.
After sitting for lunch my knee almost kept me from going any further. I limped across the road and hitched into Idyllwild. Thanks for the ride, Mike from Temecula.

I ended up spending 4 nights and 5 days in Idyllwild trying to heal up my injury. It turned out to be Pes Anserine bursitis. The spot on my proximal tibia where 3 different tendons attach became pissed off to the point that I can barely walk. I was actually on crutches for 2 days. Evidently it's caused by side to side motions when descending. That explains that. Anyway, my friend Sharon picked me up and took me back to San Diego. There I picked up my car and drove back to my parents' home in Arkansas to heal up. After a steroid injection and a month off, I flew back to Palm Springs to keep heading north.

Here's a shot from my roadtrip home. This is somewhere north of Yuma.

Iva Bell Slideshow

Here's a slideshow of my latest backpacking adventure: