Monday, September 23, 2013

A Wintery Day to Celebrate The Last Day of Summer

The equinox was celebrated on the way to Lower Lamarck Lakes Saturday with snow pellets dotting the trail. But it was the wind that was most incredible...

We touched the shore around 3pm but quickly retreated as the winds began to increase exponentially. The wind hissed through the pine needles, then began to roar...but then it really started to increase. We began to hear sounds we never heard before...a hollow low-pitched whistle. Not a moan, but an incongruent combination of low pitched vibrations, hissing, and rumbling; we began to crouch as there seemed no end to its escalation. Then it leveled out, and heard it slowly fade behind us as we hastily made our way down to a lower elevation.

The sound gave us an idea of the terror one might have felt if they were present during the 150-200mph winds that blew down thousands of 4’ diameter trees a few years ago in the area. We saw those downed trees a few months earlier and tried to imaging what it must have sounded we have an idea.

The fall colors we enjoyed on the way down were a little more vibrant since we had our senses heighten by the experience. Fall is definitely here and looks like a great year for splashes of gold and yellow soon to be painted through the green conifers in the high country.

We were surprised to see heather still blooming in late September.  They usually end their display near the end of July.  Paula guessed its was because of a consistently warm summer and most likely the result of numerous summer rains.

2011 Historic Windstorm...


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Glass Creek Meadow

Glass Creek Meadows September 7th 2013

Looking for a place to hike last weekend, we decided to visit an old friend - Glass Creek Meadow. The trailhead is near the western edge of Obsidian Dome in Mono County just off highway 395. This giant feature was formed around 600 years ago by a slow-motion eruption of oozing rhyolite. The whole area is a volcanic feature.

The beginning of the hike takes you up the side of a small crater formed by a phreatic eruption, a steam explosion that resulted from molten rock hitting groundwater and instantly flashing to steam. There really are no switchbacks so there is a whole lotta up in the beginning. This is fine since it gets the climb over with quick.

You then enter a valley made entirely of pumice. You definitely can’t sneak up on anybody while you’re walking on this stuff. The contrasts are stunning as we passed golden fall willows that snake through the white pumice. The elevation gain is very small and the 1.4 miles walk is pleasant. After that, you soon behold the 3/4 mile long meadow.

In the spring it is a flower garden, in the fall you can enjoy the absence of insects. Lots of birds eating dried seeds along the way. Oregon Juncos took to the sky in flocks of 30 as we approached a single bush. Hawk and accipiter patrolled the air, and we saw a large and small coyote at the end of the meadow trotting together with a purpose heading out.

On our way out, we walked along a distinct edge where forest meets meadow. Along the way we came across the essence of small camp with 3 disintegrating shovels laid against a collapsing tin shed.

It wasn’t the usual 5 mile 1,300’ elevation gain hike we try to accomplish each weekend, but it was just as fulfilling to our souls. After 5 days of computer-watching, it is always great to feel expended after a hike that melts way the tensions of life in the 21st century.
Turn at Obsidian Dome Rd, 48 miles north of Bishop.

For more information on Obsidian Dome click here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lake Sabrina - A Peek into the Past

Lake Sabrina, up Bishop Creek near Bishop California, is one of three lakes in this drainage dammed for the better part of a 100 years for power and flood control (mostly power).  The lake level has been very low due to drought, but the situation has been exacerbated by the fact Edison partially drained it for needed work on the aging dam; it has never recovered  We took friends there over the Labor Day weekend to kayak knowing it would be low...but not this low.

We ended up having to drive nearly a 1/4 mile to the waters edge.  The diminished lake revealed its old shoreline tree stumps, providing a rare glimpse of the lake before human intervention.  It was actually pretty neat to experience a launch from an historic shoreline. 

Hopefully the lake will reach the dam next year, which will have meant a wet winter...we really need a wet winter.