California

Two Weekends in the Eastern Sierras

Two back-to-back weekends in the Eastern Sierras, with base camp at Mammoth Lakes.

The purpose of the first weekend was to attend the 2014 Kamikaze Mountain Bike Games, which were fast and fun and furious. The second weekend included riding Lower Rock Creek, Rock Creek Lake, Tom’s Place, and Saddlebag Lake; in Yosemite we hiked Mays Lake and Tuolumne Meadows on the east side of the Park.

Men's Pro Downhill at a <a title="Google Maps" href="http://goo.gl/maps/L91Lq" target="_blank">nasty rock garden</a> just below the top of Chair 16. As always, the photos don't do justice to the speed or steepness of the trail, or the skill of the rider. The guy with the megaphone on the left was very, very "enthusiastic," if you catch our drift.
Men’s Pro Downhill at a nasty rock garden just below the top of Chair 16. As always, the photos don’t do justice to the speed or steepness of the trail, or the skill of the rider. The guy with the megaphone on the left was very, very “enthusiastic,” if you catch our drift. And while we’re at it, more cow bell!

Dual downhill slalom at the Canyon Lodge at Mammoth Mountain. Grab and drag the photosphere to look around! Oh my Gawd, the guy with the red shirt doesn’t have any legs!

A photo sphere from the roof of the Canyon Lodge.

The Village in Mammoth Lakes was a ghost town after the mountain bikers left, and before the snow and skiers arrive. Many workers in town take advantage of the down-time to flee the town.
The Village in Mammoth Lakes was a ghost town after the mountain bikers left, and before the snow and skiers arrive. Many workers in town take advantage of the down-time to flee town.
Autumn aspen colors at Rock Creek Lake.
Autumn aspen colors at Rock Creek Lake.

A photo sphere of autumn color from above Rock Creek Lake. Take a look around.

Rock Creek Lake from above; Wheeler Ridge in the background.
Rock Creek Lake from above; Wheeler Ridge in the background.
Changing aspens along Warren Fork on the Tioga Pass Road, on the eastern side of Yosemite. This day was "get into National Parks for FREE!" day, where The Man lets us stick it to him.
Changing aspens along Warren Fork on the Tioga Pass Road, on the eastern side of Yosemite (the Park, not the OS). This day was “get into National Parks for FREE!” day, where The Man lets us stick it to him.
Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.
Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.

Carol stands in the middle of a low-flow Tuolumne River in Yosemite.

Nine thousand foot elevation May Lake in Yosemite.
May Lake in Yosemite, around 9,200′ elevation.
While we were hiking around May Lake, a 2' thick layer of fog formed over one end of the lake, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
While we were hiking around May Lake, a 2′ thick layer of fog formed over one end of the lake, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
Snow arrives in the high country, delighting and amazing people from SoCal who never see the stuff.
Snow arrives in the high country, delighting and amazing people from SoCal who never see the stuff.
Dave McCoy's hard work gets dusted.
Dave McCoy’s hard work gets dusted.
The parking lot at Red's Lake.
The parking lot at Red’s Lake.
A very low water level at Horseshoe Lake - normally, the water would be just behind Carol.
A very low water level at Horseshoe Lake – normally, the water would be just behind Carol.
I'm here to report that the CO2 tree-kill area along the north shore of Horseshoe Lake is still dead. Soil gas in the tree-kill areas is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2; there is less than 1 percent CO2 in soils outside tree-kill areas.
I’m here to report that the CO2 tree-kill area along the north shore of Horseshoe Lake is still dead. Soil gas in the tree-kill areas is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2; there is less than 1 percent CO2 in soils outside tree-kill areas.
 11,561' Mt. Aggie right of center.
11,561′ Mt. Aggie right of center.

Photo Spheres from East and West of 395

Ten photo spheres from around the Owens Valley – treat them as if you were using Google Street View. Click and hold and drag the mouse to look around, up and down. Go advanced and zoom in and out. Or go big with full-screen mode.

Camping in the Alabama Hills, Owens Valley.

The Cerro Gordo Ghost Town, American Hotel – 700 mines in the Cerro Gordo district searched for silver, lead and zinc ore – rough business considering the remote location. The mines were located at 8,000′ in the Inyo Mountains on the west side of Death Valley National Park.

Cocktail Rock in the Alabama Hills – Overlooking the Alabama Hills with Mt. Whitney in the background. From left to right, that’s Barbara, Carol, Rick, Ron, Matt, Morgan (hiding behind Matt), and Sandy.

The Salt Tram – The Salt Tram at the top of the Inyo Mountains. The tram was built around 100 years ago to transport salt from the Saline Valley, over the mountains, and down to Owens Lake for distribution.

Horseshoe Meadows Road – Carol, Rick and I stopped to take in the view of Owens Valley. Below us are the switchbacks we used to climb the hill.

Hiking the Trail Pass Trail – That’s Ron and Carol and Barbara on the Trail Pass Trail.

Alabama Hills Base Camp

Breaking out of our regular routine, Carol and I decided to head to the Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierras for Memorial Day weekend. The plan was to base-camp in the rock hills, and wander and explore the area. Even though it was Memorial weekend, we were still able to hunker in and hide from the tourists.

We arrived at our camp site about an hour before sunset, and were rewarded with views of some pretty impressive rocks. Hundreds of old cowboy movies were made in the area with the likes of John Wayne, Gene Audry, Clayton Moore and Hopalong Cassidy.
We arrived at our camp site about an hour before sunset, and were rewarded with views of some pretty impressive rocks. Hundreds of old cowboy movies were made in the area with the likes of John Wayne, Gene Audry, Clayton Moore and Hopalong Cassidy.
Was it just us, or did the rock at our camp look like the Simpson's characters Kang and Kodos?
Was it just us, or did the rock at our camp look like the Simpson’s characters Kang and/or Kodos?
The Inyo Mountains framed by the Alabama Hills.
The Inyo Mountains framed by the Alabama Hills.
Our dispersed camp site was surrounded by rocks of all sizes - perfect if you're into bouldering or if you're a kid.
Our dispersed camp site was surrounded by rocks of all sizes – perfect if you’re into bouldering or if you’re a kid.
Lubken Canyon Road passing through pastureland on our way to Horseshoe Meadows and the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead.
Lubken Canyon Road passing through pastureland on our way to Horseshoe Meadows and the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead.
On the Cottonwood Lakes Trail, we passed from the Golden Trout Wilderness into the John Muir Wilderness - the transition was relatively painless. A little farther down the trail, we saw the Golden Trout camp - a group of old houses which are reportedly home to a family of bears. Note the funny leg.
On the Cottonwood Lakes Trail, we passed from the Golden Trout Wilderness into the John Muir Wilderness – the transition was relatively painless. A little farther down the trail, we saw the Golden Trout camp – a group of old houses which are reportedly home to a family of bears. Note the funny leg.
By the way, mountain bikes are not welcome in wilderness areas, but horses are. The issue appears to be the mountain bike's inability to defecate on the trail and create deep gouges.
By the way, mountain bikes are not welcome in wilderness areas, but horses are. The issue appears to be the mountain bike’s inability to defecate on the trail and create deep gouges.
As we approached Cirque Peak and Cottonwood Lakes (there's six Cottonwood Lakes), the trail flattened out at around 11,100'. Temps were chilly - we received some snow flurries.
As we approached Cirque Peak and Cottonwood Lakes (there’s six Cottonwood Lakes), the trail flattened out at around 11,100′. Temps were chilly – we received some snow flurries.
Cirque Peak and Cottonwood Lake - this would be our turn-around point, 7.5 miles from the car.
Cirque Peak and Cottonwood Lake – this would be our turn-around point, 7.5 miles from the car.
From Cottonwood Lakes, we had a great view of Mt. Langley, 14,042', standing almost 3,000' above our picture-taking location. Langley is the southern-most of the 14ers.
From Cottonwood Lakes, we had a great view of Mt. Langley, 14,042′, standing almost 3,000′ above our picture-taking location. Langley is the southern-most of the 14ers.
The trees at timberline appeared to have had a rough life.
The trees at timberline appeared to have had a rough life.
Pausing to layer and/or unlayer.
Pausing to layer and/or unlayer.
We got to see some very cool weathered trees along the trail.
We got to see some very cool weathered trees along the trail.
Sunday morning sunrise in the Alabama Hills. That tall, weird-shaped rock? It's about 30' tall, thanks for asking.
Sunday morning sunrise in the Alabama Hills. That tall, weird-shaped rock? It’s about 30′ tall, thanks for asking.
And the view from within the toy hauler wasn't too bad either.
And the view from within the toy hauler wasn’t too bad either.
Among other things, on Sunday we drove up to Whitney Portal and had lunch. In the middle of the photo are the Alabama Hills - the town of Lone Pine is located in that green mass on the right. That's the Inyo Mountains on the east side of the Owens Valley.
Among other things, on Sunday we drove up to Whitney Portal and had lunch. In the middle of the photo are the Alabama Hills – the town of Lone Pine is located in that green mass on the right. That’s the Inyo Mountains on the east side of the Owens Valley.
Looking up at the granite walls above Whitney Portal.
Looking up at the granite walls above Whitney Portal.
Carol sat out the afternoon, and I wandered. My first stop was the Alabama-Mohawk mine where they removed gold from a vein 2 to 18 inches wide.
Carol sat out the afternoon, and I wandered. My first stop was the Alabama-Mohawk mine where they removed gold from a vein 2 to 18 inches wide. “Workings include underground openings comprised of a 326 foot adit, that connec ts with a shaft 130 feet from the portal, 54 feet below the collar. The shaft extends 56 feet below the adit level. A winze was sunk to a depth of 26 feet 222 feet from the adit portal, connecting with a stope from lower workings.”
For whatever reason, recent guy wires and a steel frame were added to the tower - arrested decay?
For whatever reason, recent guy wires and a steel frame were added to the tower – arrested decay?
An old shack on Moffat Ranch Road, overlooking Owens Valley.
An old shack on Moffat Ranch Road, overlooking Owens Valley.
One of our favorite Cocktail Rocks, overlooking the Eastern Sierras and the Alabama Hills (if you look closely, you can see the toy hauler).
One of our favorite Cocktail Rocks, overlooking the Eastern Sierras and the Alabama Hills (if you look closely, you can see the toy hauler).