Eastern Nevada in a baja Bug


My baja bug approaching wheeler mountain

My baja bug approaching wheeler mountain

This years Western Regional of the NSS was being held in Great Basin National park. When I found out Ric couldn’t make it I decided it was time to see how the bug fared on a longer journey. I got off to a poor start as I left Sacramento, despite leaving early traffic ground to a halt on 80. Between labor day weekend traffic and construction there was no way I was getting to the western regional in Great Basin National Park any time soon. After a brief stop in Reno to refuel I was on the road again and arrived at the Hickison Petroglyph site at around 2 in the morning. I pulled into the first open campsite, through my sleeping bag on the sturdy concrete picnic table and slept under the stars. The next day I was up early enough to arrive at the grey cliffs campground after the trips for the day had already departed but I helped set up for and settled in to attend the business meeting of the Western region. That evening we headed down to Baker for the volunteer firefighters fund-raiser BBQ which was a delicious meal and I enjoyed checking out the 57 willys jeep with inline 4 engine that one of the volunteers drove.

Ben, cave specialist, in Lehman cave.

Ben, cave specialist, in Lehman cave.

The following morning I was able to join one of the regular tours of Lehman cave which was a very enjoyable one with plenty of impressive formations to see, before joining up with Bill and Perry Frantz for a trip out to Crystal ball cave. this was a fantastic cave as the large geode like formations of dog tooth spar crystals really make this a unique cave. Afterwards we headed over to beware cave where despite my constant bemoaning of the fact I hadn’t brought my waterproof camera I had a great time swimming into the small cave behind the short waterfall fed from nearby springs. All cave trips should involve a short swim at the end it was very relaxing. We made it back just in time to fix ourselves dinner and then it was time for the auction. The auction went predictably longer then anticipated but everyone seemed to enjoy it and Marianne’s schnapps kept folks warm.

Crystal ball cave

Crystal ball cave

The next day we loaded the cars up and then headed off to visit the Talus room in Lehman cave where thanks to a lot of volunteer effort they have completed the removal of the old trail and returned the cave to a more natural state. I had a great time taking pictures of the large room and formations. After leaving the cave, Matt and heather took the lead in their trooper and we headed off to a location known as PJ’s camp. Here we found Ron and Lonnie embarking on stupid human trick number ? as Ron attempted to surf on a satellite dish. Once this was abandoned, Marilyn, Tom, Ron, Tracy, Lonnie, Neil, Matt, Heather and I headed off to find the pit Neil had told us about. It was a short, though steep hike to the pit and before long we had two ropes rigged going the 180′ down to the bottom. Heather and I decided to sit this one out though I did shoot video of people going up and down. By the time everyone had climbed back out and de-rigged it was getting pretty dark which made hiking back to the vehicles much cooler then the hike up. Since it was late Matt, Heather and I decided to share a motel room for the night. We got up early and headed out to a small canyon where a cave they’d been mapping was located. While their had been a previous map, they were doing a new one with profile and more detail. It was a fun hike up the canyon, past an old mine and up a scree slope to get to the cave. On the way we passed a couple lizards and I saw an Owl go swooping by. Matt also saw a large bird possibly the same owl or another form of rapture. At the cave Matt proceeded to perform repairs on two formations that had been broken on prior visits to the cave then he and Heather began surveying while I set up lights and tried to photograph the cave. It was well after noon before we returned to the entrance for a lunch break then slid in through the lower entrance to start on the lower section of cave. By five o’clock or so I was feeling pretty beat so we headed out and back down the canyon to where we’d left the vehicles. On the way past a section of loose rocks heather jumped back as a rather large rattle snake came bolting out past her and headed off into the scrub along the stream bed. Matt had just walked past that same exact spot! The rest of the hike was fortunately less exciting and before long we were back on the road heading toward Eureka. Arriving at Eureka though I found myself to tired to think of continuing the trip any further and so opted to drive straight back to the Hickison petroglyph site where I knew I could set up camp easily and go to sleep. Matt and Heather continued on planning to drive through the night back to Woodland.

Mapping a cave

Mapping a cave

The next morning I awoke early feeling very much refreshed after a good nights rest and walked around the site viewing the petroglyphs,I was sad to see a lot have been badly damaged by vandalism, but there are still a few good example to see. After walking around enjoying the sunrise I drove to Austin where I filled up with gas and adjusted the bowden tube which had been causing a slight shudder when I stepped on the clutch. With that taken care of I asked how far it was to Tonapah and learning it was only 116 miles I headed off down the road. At Tonapah I had a great time visiting the mining museum and taking lots of pictures. Next stop was Beatty Nevada where I fuelled up the car before finding a spot to camp for the night. The next morning I got up extra early so that I was able to drive down into Death Valley and all the way to the Devils golf course for sunrise.

Devils golf course, Death Valley

Devils golf course, Death Valley

After that I headed down to bad water and hiked way out on the salt flat. since it was still fairly cool I took my time heading back to Furnace creek, taking the artists drive and stopping frequently to take pictures. Even with my frequent stops I was able to get above Pimantel station before noon and avoid the worst of the heat, though it was only predicted to reach a lowly 106 degrees that day. Since I had just fuelled up in Death valley I took the dirt 4 wheel drive road over to Darwin before heading back over to 395 to begin the drive north towards home.

Bad water, Death Valley

Bad water, Death Valley

 

Death Valley

Death Valley

Road to Darwin

Road to Darwin

My next stop was Lee Vining near Mono lake. I spent the night at a small campground where once more I got up early so I could head to the south Tufa area of Mono lake for more sunrise pictures. After a pleasant morning at mono lake I drove up 395 to 108 and tackled the Sonora pass. Here the bug had difficulty as the sharp turns in the road prevented me from maintaining enough speed to make it up some of the steeper parts but after backing down one section I was able to drive the rest of the way without incident. the view at the top was amazing and there was still beautiful wildflowers in bloom and patches of snow. The rest of the way home was uneventful except for a torrent of rain that poured down washing off most of the Nevada dust as I headed for Sacramento.

Mono lake

Mono lake

Birds at Mono lake

Birds at Mono lake

 

Speleo-Ed


Kaweah river

Kaweah river

Just a few days after returning from my travels to the Bay area and Greenville, it was time to dig out my camping gear and load up the car to head out to Sequoia National park for Speleo-Ed! We were camping at Lodgepole which is fairly high elevation and due to the strange weather this year, there was still snow up there. Matt assured us though that there were clear areas to camp.

campsite

campsite

He turned out to be correct and even though it was after dark when I arrived I had no problem finding a clear spot to pitch my tent, I did have to drive over a snow bank to park my car though.

We had some great topics for speleo-ed, the hardest part was deciding which to attend. Then after a morning of interesting lectures. We had the afternoon to enjoy the park, several of us headed up to check out Tokopah falls. A short hike from our campground, made a bit longer by all the snow drifts we had to get around, it was a very impressive waterfall since all the snow melt was keeping the water flowing at full force.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Tokopah falls

Tokopah falls

That night we had a great dinner cooked by Kadean and Marc with their helpers, followed of course by schnapps tasting and a cheesy movie.

And we were greeted in the morning with a fair bit of snow that fell in the night.

Hungry Cavers

Hungry Cavers

Snowy Campsite

Snowy Campsite

Still, my bug made it down the mountain safely, another wonderful  weekend!

Snowy bug

Snowy bug

Marin Headlands


Golden gate

Golden gate

In anticipation of Isaac flying in from Australia I took a few days off work and headed out to the Marin Headlands. The plan was that my parents would pick him up at the airport and meet me there so we could see some of the sights of  San Francisco and the bay area before heading North. Unfortunately Isaacs flight was canceled and he had to get a different flight later in the week. I spent a very nice couple of days at the Marin Hostel though and took plenty of pictures before heading back to Sacramento.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

Humming bird

Humming bird

buck

buck

Another glorious sunset

Another glorious sunset

Escarabajo and Monterey


On top of the world

On top of the world

I’m behind on my blogging so I’m going to try and catch up this week. I’m blaming my lack of posts on the fact that I’ve relinquished my boycott of steam. Between fallout3, replaying halflife2 and finally getting to try portal, and portal2  I’ve been keeping busy. Still going out and taking plenty of pictures though. Last month I headed south to Frank Raines OHV park to join the guys from NorCal Baja’s at the Escarabajo rally. Not all of the course was accessible for Baja’s(some of the trails are really steep)  but we had a great time and only one got stuck which was rapidly corrected with many helpful folks pushing it back on track.

Shark!

Shark!

By coincidence James called me and said he and Emily were escaping the snow that same weekend by heading to Monterey and since the rally had me already half way there I decided to join them. We spent the day at the Aquarium. Michael had a great time running from exhibit to exhibit. He especially loved the tunnel where waves crashed overhead.

Whoa

Whoa

Wheee

Wheee

Jelly

Jelly

Mud


Prarie city mud

Prairie city mud

The Annual Brug Dadford formal caving event was postponed due to inclement weather (though really a forced march in the rain might be an improvement over struggling with heat and dehydration ) Luckily I was able to put the wet weather to good use though as i joined “NorCal Baja’s” for an outing to Prairie City OHVP. We had a good time driving around in the mud and even more fun getting stuck. Fortunately Eddie was there with his truck to give folks an occasional assist, though I was a little worried when his truck settled into the mud and refused to move. Then it was time for the big wheeled Jeep to come in and lend an assist. Soon after that it was time to head out to Carl’s Jr for some burgers and a chance to warm up.

Oh and I shot some video of the fun http://captnemo.smugmug.com/Events/Prarie-City-31911/16260932_9pUw7#1221547182_KVnTk-A-LB

My bug

My bug

http://captnemo.smugmug.com/Events/Prarie-City-31911/16260932_9pUw7#1221557261_AEzyo