End of Summer


Upper Twin Lake

Upper Twin Lake

Well I guess it’s official, summer has once more come and gone. I’m back in school juggling classes and work so no adventurous outings for awhile.

As I previously posted though I did have a final trip this Labor Day weekend. I once more loaded the backpack/tent and all my caving gear onto the motorcycle and headed up to the Kaiser wilderness.

Near Kaiser pass

Near Kaiser pass

I stopped at the Ranger station near Huntington Lake and learning there were limited permits available I signed up for a fifteen person permit. I tried calling Ron to let him know that I had a permit but there was no signal, so I headed to the trail head and after stashing my food in one of the bear boxes there I backtracked to Shaver lake so I could call and let Ron know I had a permit. Back at the trail head I set up camp and called it a night. I got up early the next morning and after making coffee on my camp stove hiked up a nearby hill to enjoy the view. I spent the rest of the day hiking along the trail and talking to some other hikers I spotted entering the wilderness. Since they were exiting the next day though they wouldn’t effect our permit. I returned to the trail head and once more set up camp.While cooking dinner I noted cows wandering nearby and my curiosity got the better of me so I investigated where they were heading and found a nearby spring that had a fixed pipe coming out of it. This makes it a convenient place to fill up water before heading out on the trail but definitely requires   filtering /treatment.

That night people began rolling in but since I was warm in my sleeping bag and tent I didn’t bother to investigate how many had arrived till the next morning. After a leisurely breakfast I packed up my gear and wandered over to where others were beginning to gather. Turned out we had 31 people! The person who had said they’d pick up a wilderness permit didn’t show so we were short. Fortunately two or three people had hiked over from the eastern Sierras so they would continue on their on wilderness permit, one person had picked up a permit for himself and the rest agreed to hike for the day and then return to Sample Meadow Campground so it worked out ok.

30 people (I'm not in there, someone had to take the picture)

30 people (I’m not in there, someone had to take the picture)

We split up into three groups roughly based on who was interested in visiting what caves, hiking speed and or whether they would be camping in the wilderness and off we went.

wildflowers

wildflowers

more wildflowers

more wildflowers

and still more wildflowers

and still more wildflowers

In spite it being so late in a very dry summer at this altitude there was still plenty of wildflowers and while I did notice the first stream we reached was dry most had at least some water in them.

The day war,ed up quickly and the trail got a bit steep but fortunately it wasn’t a long hike and soon enough it was time to put down our packs and check out some caves.

Limestone, wonder if there's a cave nearby?

Limestone, wonder if there’s a cave nearby?

This hole goes somewhere...

This hole goes somewhere…

Stephen in the cave.

Stephen in the cave.

Amanda

Amanda

Emerging from one of the caves we got our first view of a Marmot on this trip as one was sunning itself on the rocks overlooking the cave.

Marmoset

Marmoset

After visiting a couple of caves those of us who were camping overnight made our way over by the lake where we found a good spot to set up our tents. We then had a good time gathered in the center of our  ‘camp’ preparing dinner and chit catting about a wide variety of subjects. It got cold pretty quickly after dark though so most of us headed for our tents fairly soon after the sun went down.

Getting up the next morning I was admiring the warm sun rising above the trees when Jessica asked if I’d seen the lake yet this morning? I hurried over and admired it’s beautiful mirror like surface before taking a few pictures.

mirror smooth lake

mirror smooth lake

Then after breakfast it was back to caving.

Thin rock proves translucent

Thin rock proves translucent

Pink Marble

Pink Marble

Happy cavers

Happy cavers

Caving

Caving

As a special treat we spotted a cave cricket on the way out so I stopped to photograph it.

Cave cricket

Cave cricket

All to soon it was time to start packing things up and beginning the hike back to civilization.

I hated to leave but after four days of camping a hot shower and my own bed sounded pretty good.

Goodbye Marmot, See you next year.

Goodbye Marmot, See you next year.

Weekend BBQ at Cave City


Coulterville

Coulterville

I wouldn’t normally drive nearly 300 miles for a BBQ but when the opportunity includes a chance to catch up with some caving friends I haven’t seen in a while and do some sightseeing well why not?

I loaded the motorcycle and headed north. I took the scenic route, winding my way through the foothills. I finally stopped at Coulterville for a break and a cold drink. I walked around the Historic Hotel Jefferey took a look at the old steam train and various gold rush era things on display. Finally I told the Duke at the Emporium farewell and headed on to lake Camanche to set up camp for the night. It was a busy summer weekend and this is a popular spot so I was not alone but at least I’d be back on the road before the big crowds arrived.

mining equipment

mining equipment

Emporium

Emporium

Camp for the night

Camp for the night

Lake Camanche, water levels looking pretty low.

Lake Camanche, water levels looking pretty low.

I awoke in the morning and turned on my cell phone, figured I’d check my messages before heading back into the hills where I wouldn’t have signal. Just then my phone rang! It was Ric checking to see if I was coming to the BBQ. I told him I’d see him up there in a couple of hours and after a stop at Valley Springs for coffee and supplies I made my leisurely way on through San Andreas and on to Cave City.  Ric arrived a little after I did and it turned out we were the only ones to arrive early. That was OK though as we had plenty of time to catch up and see that the cave tours were doing plenty of business. We wandered over to the gift shop and reminisced about how we’d watched it being built and slowly transformed over the years. They now have a video viewing area and a full bear skeleton on display. We also spotted a couple of deer behind the gift shop.

gathering for the BBQ

gathering for the BBQ

It wasn’t long before others began arriving and slowly we started organizing the lighting of the grills so that dinner could begin.

Matt was doing some last minute prep on his pitch for the Convention in Ely next year and showed us a new promo video he put together which really looked great. I’m looking forward to attending.

Matt making last minute edits

Matt making last minute edits

Deer behind the gift shop

Deer behind the gift shop

Climbing practice

Climbing practice

After dinner in addition to Matt’s video, Dave gave a great slide show on some of his recent cave trips including the Bonne Terre lead mine in Missouri which is on my list of place I’d like to dive someday. After his great slide show there were some enterprising folks who made a squeeze box/obstacle course out of Rons ladder.

Hold your beer or lose your pants, decisions, decisions.

Hold your beer or lose your pants, decisions, decisions.

All to soon it was over. After a good nights sleep in my tent it was back on the road for the long drive home.

Another great weekend in the MotherLode

 

A Walk up Walker Pass


Me and my shadow :)

Me and my shadow :)

I picked up a couple of pieces of new gear in prep for a backpacking trip at the end of this summer and thought it prudent to try them out before hiking too far. I knew there was BLM camping near chimney peak so I hopped on the motorcycle (with greatly overloaded backpack) and headed up Kern canyon.

Kern River preserve

Kern River preserve

 

First stop was the Kern River preserve. Here there are many trees along the river so it makes a wonderful place to go for a stroll and watch the birds. Turns out my Dad and James had been amongst the numerous voluteers that planted many of these trees almost twenty years ago!

Humming bird

Humming bird

 

After a short walk around the preserve I continued driving east and the landscape became progressivly dryer.

Arid landscape

Arid landscape

Reaching the turn off to Chimney peak I prepared to endure the next ten or fifteen miles on dirt road.

After only a mile or two though I encountered some pretty deep drifts of extremely powdery sand and decided to turn back.

Road to chimney peak

Road to chimney peak

Getting back on the pavement I continued east until just before Walker pass I reached the BLM Walker pass campground. I parked here and grabbing my pack and camera began hiking up the trail.

Parked at campground

Parked at campground

The terrain here is interesting as the high desert vegitation of the Mojave desert, Joshua trees, cholla cactus etc are interspersed with the evergreens of the Sierras. This year the evergreens were looking the worse for the drought though as many were brown and dying.

 

cholla cactus

cholla cactus

not so evergreens

not so evergreens

 

Joshua trees

Joshua trees

After a couple of miles along the Pacific crest trail I decided it was a little too hot to go further so I made my way back down to the campground.

I did notice a lot of cicada husks on the trees and bushes along the way.

cicada husk

cicada husk

 

Back at the campground I rested up and waited till the sun went down. Meanwhile I spotted a family of quail in the nearby bushes, and a noisy Jay protested that I was resting under his tree!

quail

quail

 

noisy Jay

noisy Jay

 

sunset

sunset

Once the sun started to set I hiked out to take a few pictures then it was time to fix dinner. This was where the new gear came in. I was lugging a new bear canister with all my food in it (hence the heavy pack) and a new wood burning camp stove I got on amazon.

New bear canister AKA bear pinata / toy

New bear canister AKA bear pinata / toy

I barely had enough water with me as hiking in the heat requires plenty of water and all nearby water sources (there’s a spring .3 miles from camp)were completely dry. Some kind soul had left an emergency stash at the campground but I left that alone as people walking in from the P.C.T might be in real need of that water. I only needed a couple cups to cook dinner and knew I could reach somewhere with water the next day without difficulty so I wasn’t too worried. I had 4 liters with me and had only drunk the first 1.5 so that left enough for dinner, breakfast and a little hike in the AM.

The stove performed well though it did take longer to boil water then it had at home, I expected this since I was at higher elevation but I had not realized how much the breeze would affect the stove’s performance (I realized this the next morning when heating water was significantly faster as there was no breeze) So for future trips I’ll be packing a windshield I made from a bit of aluminum.

new stove

new stove

Overall though I was very pleased with the stove, not having to lug fuel canisters around is great and it really is amazingly efficient, just a few handfuls of twigs to cook dinner.

After dinner I spent some time taking pictures of the night sky and used my interval-o meter to try out some time-lapses.

starry sky

starry sky

The next morning I fixed breakfast then hiked over to the pass and up the peak a ways before heading back and loading up the motorcycle to start my return trip. I stopped at  lake Isabella to observe how low the water levels were then took the leisurely route through Havilah where I was given a tour of the small but impressive museum. Then back to 58 and on to the Valley.

The mud puddle formerly known as lake Isabella

The mud puddle formerly known as lake Isabella

One of the museum docents feeding the neighbors horses

One of the museum docents feeding the neighbors horses

 

 

It's not Halloween yet is it?

It’s not Halloween yet is it?

Another fun outing in Kern Canyon !

BlackJack


BlackJack!

Black Jack!

In case you were wondering how I went about creating my poker game, I’ve written a complete tutorial

on another simple card game, blackjack

You can read through it here

and there’s a zip file to download that contains the files used and a small run-able example.

Any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to let me know and If you make something cool be sure and let me know.