Whitney Portal


I decided to head out this weekend on the motorcycle and escape the heat here in Bakersfield. In hindsight maybe heading into the desert wasn’t the best choice for this but overall it worked out very well. Early morning riding past Tehachapi was nice and cool and it wasn’t till I neared Mojave that the smoke from nearby forest fires clouded the air.

I continued North up through Red rock Canyon and soon I was riding in clean cool air again though as the sun beat down it was getting noticeably warmer. By midday it was becoming hot so I was glad to take a ride up Whitney Portal road. This very steep road soon had me up at cooler climes and I was able to relax near a stream for awhile. I had intended to pop into the portal shop for a bite to eat but there was a considerable crowd up by the trail head/ parking area so I decided to make my way down back towards 395 instead. Progressing along the interstate it wasn’t long before I realized  a. it was pretty darn hot out and b. the air quality was significantly worsening as more smoke flowed out of the forest fires.  The smoggy skies did make for an impressive sunset as I passed back through Red Rock Canyon so I stopped for a few pictures and as I headed towards Mojave a gusty wind started blowing which while it made riding a little uncomfortable did cool things off.

450 miles later I was home, a very enjoyable outing.

See the rest of the pictures HERE

PackSaddle 2016


 

Waterfall at the creek

Creek

Last year I managed a visit up to Packsaddle cave but it was mid summer and I headed up a bit late in the day which made for a too warm trip. Well honestly it was hot but I survived. This year I joined a local hiking group and they wisely headed up early in the morning and picked a weekend when the weather was really very pleasant. I managed to pack extra water and even had some ice left in one of the bottles upon returning to the motorcycle for the ride home.

As evidenced in the photos there was more water present then last year which in turn meant more wildflowers and unfortunately more poison oak but I think we managed to avoid it all.

Hiking across the ridge

Hiking across the ridge

 

wildflowers

wildflowers

Hiking up the hill

Hiking up the hill, if you look real careful there’s people up near the top 🙂

It was a surprisingly large group, close to 30 people but everyone seemed to enjoy the hike and no one complained that I took my time coming up the hill as I stopped to take just one or two more pictures.

lupine

lupine

Finally we reached the cave. Here I was disappointed to find my flashes weren’t triggering from the radio transmitters but I did have optical slave as an option so I took a couple shots with that and found that my dive light made a fairly good substitute as well.

flash

flash using optical slave in the cave

dive light

dive light

So at least I got a few in cave pics then it was time to hike back down the hill.

There were still plenty of flowers to photograph on the way back

Mariposa Lilly

Mariposa Lilly

and I got back to the motorcycle early enough to enjoy a pleasant ride through the canyon before heading down to the valley where it was getting pretty warm again.

More wild flowers

More wild flowers

Heading back to Anacapa


 

Urchins

After the previous days Whale watching trip I was a little worried that the ocean conditions would be less then ideal for diving. The weather was warm and sunny but there was still enough wind that the waves were choppy crossing the channel. Several people were looking rather green by the time the dive boat found a suitable sheltered spot to anchor. Everyone manged to stay in good spirits though and the diving was a lot of fun. I was enjoying the warm temps(57F that’s approx. 13C) since its considerably warmer then Monterey or salt point were the last time I dove those water temps were 51 to 52F. Some people said they were cold anyway but I presume they were used to tropical waters.

Garibaldi

We were greeted with the usual critters, Garibaldi, sea hares, anemones, urchins various rock fish and numerous fish darting in and out of the kelp. Due to the conditions we stayed anchored in relatively shallow waters so I didn’t see any of the large sheepshead fish and groupers I’ve spotted on other trips.

chiton and purple urchins

Fish amongst the kelp

Sand dab

Sadly there appears to be a lot more of the Invasive species that are preventing the normal kelp forests from growing as abundantly as it usually does and which hides the rocky bottom where so many interesting critters live. I also noticed a lot more brittle stars then I have in previous years.

sea hare

 

brittle stars

After the first couple of dives we enjoyed a delicious lunch back on the boat and a short rest before the final dive of the day. this time I spotted some tube anemones and had to stop and take pictures.

Tube anemones

 

All to soon it was time to head back after a final stop to say bye to the dolphins jumping in the channel. We arrived back to Ventura where I loaded the motorcycle up for the ride home.

Thar She blows!


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When the local Bakersfield Scuba club was kind enough to schedule an outing during my Spring break from classes I felt I just had to go. After I had signed up I mentioned to a co-worker I’d head down after work Friday and spend the night on the boat, she pointed out the office would be closed for good Friday. I decided to head to Ventura early and signed up for a whale watching trip with IslandPackers the company that  also provides trips out to the Channel Islands. After a leisurely start I headed out Friday morning and spotted these California poppies growing way up on this hillside while stopped for gas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I still made in to Ventura well before lunch time and my 1PM departure time so I stopped and got some lunch then wandered around the shops in the harbor and took a few pictures of the sea lions that were playing amidst the boat docks, also a few sea birds and the pelicans diving into the harbor img_5492-l  kept me entertained.

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It wasn’t long till it was time to board the Island Explorer and head off in search of whales.

Turned out the seas were a little choppy and folks who opted to stand out along the bow rail got wet as we crossed the deep part of the channel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We slowed for awhile when a Fin whale was reported to be off the port side but I never spotted it. We then continued around Anacapa Island and along the more sheltered side we spotted several grey whales. First sighting I had for the day was a big tail fluke sticking straight out of the water :)

img_5681-x2 It wasn’t long though till we also saw the spouts of water being blown in the air from several other whales coming up to the surface.

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All to soon it was time to head back to port. We got to pause and admire the numerous dolphins that swim near the islands on our way though.

img_5663-xl They really do seem to enjoy seeing who can ‘surf’ the waves coming of the boats the furthest as we go by.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arriving back in port I still had a couple of hours to kill till the Spectre was due to be at the dock so I decided to wander down to the little dive shop in the harbor and then go get some dinner. At the shop I was lucky enough to run into some folks who had come down from Bakersfield for the trip and we all decided to head over to Brophy Bro’s seafood restaurant for dinner. It being a holiday weekend and a Friday night there was a long wait for a table or even a spot at the bar but we weren’t in any rush and I’m sure the food tasted even better after our wait. After a very enjoyable dinner we wandered over to the dock found the boat waiting for us and a few divers already aboard. A couple of us stayed up on deck late telling sea tales and then it was time to hit the rack and rest up for diving, but I’ll leave that part for my next post.

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.