California

Telescope Peak

Five of us hiked to the top of Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park, the highest point in the park. From the top, you can see Mt. Whitney to the north, and Charleston Peak near Las Vegas, to the east. Telescope Peak is also notable for having one of the greatest vertical rises above local terrain of any mountain in the contiguous United States. Its summit rises 11,331 feet above the lowest point in Death Valley, Badwater Basin at −282 feet, in about 15 miles (a route we decided not to take).

The Charcoal Kilns in Death Valley. These ten beehive shaped masonry structures, about 25 feet high, were completed in 1877 by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company to provide a source of fuel suitable for use in two smelters adjacent to their group of lead-silver mines in the Argus Range west of Panamint Valley, about 25 miles distant from the kilns.
The Charcoal Kilns in Death Valley. These ten beehive shaped masonry structures, about 25 feet high, were completed in 1877 by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company to provide a source of fuel suitable for use in two smelters about 25 miles from the kilns.
Carol, Loren, Tito and Dave at Telescope Peak trailhead on Mahogany Flats (8,200').
Carol, Loren, Tito and Dave at Telescope Peak trailhead on Mahogany Flats (8,200′). The trail to the summit is seven miles long one-way, and tops out at 11,043, the highest point in Death Valley.
Everyone armed with a camera.
Everyone armed with a camera in a Columbian Standoff.
It had snowed two days before our ascent to Telescope - the dusting was mostly gone, except for the top of the mountain.
It had snowed two days before our ascent to Telescope – the dusting was mostly gone, except for the top of the mountain.
Professional hiking slippers.
Professional hiking slippers.
Badwater Basin, the lowest spot in Death Valley and the Western Hemisphere (-282'), seen from near the top of Telescope.
Badwater Basin, the lowest spot in Death Valley and the Western Hemisphere (-282′), seen from near the top of Telescope.
Resting at the summit.
Resting at the summit.
Jim, Carol and Dave, snapping a photo at the top of Telescope while holding the El Segundo Herald. The photo would later be published in the paper - of course they first ran it through their filter which softens the focus, and washes out colors.
Jim, Carol and Dave, snapping a photo at the top of Telescope while holding the El Segundo Herald (Carol refused to touch the paper). The photo would later be published in the paper – of course they first ran it through their filter which softens the focus, and washes out colors.
Our campground at Wildrose.
Our campground at Wildrose.

Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

Carol and I had a free weekend day – something which rarely occurs. The right answer was to unfree it, by taking the Catalina Express from Marina del Rey to Avalon on Catalina Island, about 30 miles into the Pacific. We took the beach cruisers, so we could explore town. The Island Conservancy charges $50 to travel out of town, so staying in town was OK with us.

The Avalon welcoming committee (along with some pelicans).
The Avalon welcoming committee (along with some pelicans).
Avalon Harbor - the Green Pleasure Pier is on the left.
Avalon Harbor – the Green Pleasure Pier is on the left.
Lunch. And a good lunch it was.
Lunch. And a good lunch it was.
Avalon and Avalon Harbor from up near the Wrigley Mansion.
Avalon and Avalon Harbor from up near the Wrigley Mansion.
Descanso Beach, north of Avalon.
Descanso Beach, north of Avalon.
The Avalon Casino.
The Avalon Casino.
Wandering the streets of Avalon. Almost all the locals drive golf carts - gas is very expensive, plus, nothing is far from where you are.
Wandering the streets of Avalon. Almost all the locals drive golf carts – gas is very expensive, plus, nothing is far from where you are.

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The subtle interplay of light and shadow.
The subtle interplay of light and shadow.

Video: A Cal City Weekend

Debauchery in the high desert with a near-crash and a crash, Federal Penal Colony #52, a rattlesnake in our toy hauler, Cuddeback Dry Lake, the Husky Memorial and lunch in Randsburg (where Huell Howser  dined). Four minutes of your life which you’ll never get back.

Saddlebag Lake and 20 Lakes Basin

Carol and I, along with Steve and KT and Maddy and Ali, hiked the spectacular, high-elevation, 20 Lakes Basin Loop just east of Yosemite National Park. The loop is around five miles long with little elevation gain, passing numerous lakes along the trail. We went clockwise around the loop, then subsequently learned that anti-clockwise is a better way to go. The trail isn’t marked, so some light orienteering is required.

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Carol along the shore of Shamrock Lake. Snow-fed lakes dot the landscape.
Carol along the shore of Shamrock Lake. Snow-fed lakes dot the landscape.
The trail hovered a little above 10,000' its entire length.
The trail hovered a little above 10,000′ its entire length.

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Grotesque snow sculptures (Jeez, did I just say that?) with Helen Lake in the background.
Grotesque snow sculptures (Jeez, did I just say that?) with Helen Lake in the background.
Inside a snow cave over a creekbed. Water dripped from the ceiling - there were fewer drops near the wall.
Ali, Maddy and KT inside a snow cave over a creekbed. Water dripped from the ceiling – there were fewer drops near the wall.

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Cooling the post-hike tootsies in the lake while waiting for the water taxi.
Cooling the post-hike tootsies in the lake while waiting for the water taxi.
Gravity kicks in.
Gravity kicks in.

Fourth of July in Mammoth

For the Fourth of July weekend, we made an annual pilgrimage to Mammoth Mountain for some world-class mountain biking. For good or bad, there was a boatload of snow on the mountain and the top half only worked with skis or snowboards. This forced us into lower-elevation riding, in Lower Rock Creek (win-win).

The green patch in the background is Bishop; the mountain on the left is Mt. Tom, the smaller one on the right is Basin Mountain - in between is Horton Lake.
The green patch in the background is Bishop; the mountain on the left is Mt. Tom, the smaller one on the right is Basin Mountain – in between is Horton Lake.
Deep snows on Mammoth Mountain (even on the Fourth of July) allowed summer boarding.
Deep snows on Mammoth Mountain (even on the Fourth of July) allowed summer boarding.
June Lake
June Lake

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Lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli overlooking Mono Lake. Or said differently, eating Mobil gas station food in Lee Vining.
Lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli overlooking Mono Lake. Or said differently, eating Mobil gas station food in Lee Vining.
Tioga Lake looking toward Tioga Pass.
Tioga Lake looking toward Tioga Pass.
Saddlebag Lake Resort - the lake is on the left, frozen.
Saddlebag Lake Resort – the lake is on the left is frozen.
10,000' elevation with a frozen Saddlebag Lake in the background.
10,000′ elevation with a frozen Saddlebag Lake in the background.

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Sequoia National Forest, Monache Meadow

How to escape the summer heat: head to the High Sierras. We base-camped near the Hooker Meadow trailhead in the Sequoia National Forest, then wandered to Monache Meadow, Bald Mountain, and rode around the area on dirt bikes. And the best part was the extremely low concentration of humans.

Henri patrolling the area on his pit bike.
Henri patrolling the area on his pit bike.
It turns out the flying bugs liked our candles as much as we did.
It turns out the flying bugs liked our candles as much as we did.
Camp site near Rodeo Flats.
Camp site near Rodeo Flats.
Matthew and Robert on the trail.
Matthew and Robert on the Jackass Creek Trail.
Matthew and Robert on the Jackass Trail.
Matthew and Robert giggling over the trail name.
Rocks are a good way to quickly and efficiently drain engine oil.
Rocks are a good way to quickly and efficiently drain engine oil.
Tito, Carol and Matthew, each in their own way, relaxing at camp.
Tito, Carol and Matthew, each in their own way, relaxing at camp.
Bald Mountain lookout, still in operation.
Bald Mountain lookout, still in operation. Right about here.
When on the lookout, it's best to apply a death grip to prevent from flying off.
When on the lookout, it’s best to apply a death grip to prevent from flying off.
A peek inside the fire lookout tower.
A peek inside the fire lookout tower.
Hooker Meadow, 8,400' elevation.
Hooker Meadow, 8,400′ elevation. Right about here.
Dave and Irene drive their new Tacoma across the South Fork of the Kern River in Monache Meadows.
Dave and Irene drive their new Tacoma across the South Fork of the Kern River in Monache Meadows.
Murphy
Murphy
Hanging out along the Kern.
Hanging out along the Kern.
Olancha Peak is the tallest, bald.
Olancha Peak is the tallest, bald.