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.

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 ūüôā

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 !

Rancho Los Alamitos


Shady tree

Shady tree

Following my trip up Kern Canyon to visit Pack Saddle Cave I was invited to escape the heat and head down to Long Beach. Mostly so I could provide tech support for my Dads talk to the local Cactus club there. The meeting was at Rancho Los Alamitas, which gave me a chance to tour the gardens and take a few pictures. After the talk we were invited to tour one of the members succulent garden and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Johnny Rebs, ribs and southern food.  Then it was time to hit the road for the drive back over the Grapevine to the heat of Bakersfield.

The gardens

The gardens

Mom and Dad discussing succulents

Mom and Dad discussing succulents

More Shady trees

More Shady trees

Pack in the Saddle Again!


PackSaddle Cave

PackSaddle Cave

Ha, just had to title this post that way. (try to belt it out like AreoSmith as you read it )

Here it is my (drum roll please…) 200th post. Technically it isn’t since this log has been around quite a bit longer the WordPress or blogging in general for that matter, but as far as WordPress is concerned this is it! so in honor of the occasion, and mostly just because I wanted to get out of the house I headed up to Pack Saddle Cave.¬† It was a sunny day and a little too warm for hiking, well truthfully it was darn hot but I was hopefull it would be at least a couple degrees cooler up at the cave since the trail starts well up the Kern Canyon at above 3000′. I made sure I had plenty of water and snacks loaded up on the Motorcycle and drove out of town towards Lake Isabella. From there it was a few short miles to Kernville and on to the parking spot across the street from the trail head. It was still too hot but I’d come this far I might as well check out the cave. The trail started out promising enough, wide obviously maintained and heading up a gradual slope. All to soon though it was a steep grueling slog uphill with no shade in sight. The views were magnificent though so while I paused to catch my breath I took a few pictures.

View as I begin up the trail, looking back toward the river.

View as I begin up the trail, looking back toward the river.

There's limestone in those hills, looks promising!

There’s limestone in those hills, looks promising!

When I finally crested the ridge I could see loads of limestone outcrops all around, certainly a good area to find a cave. Unfortunately the particular outcrop I was looking for was across yet another gully. I began making my way downward trying not to dwell on how much that meant I’d be going back up on the other side to reach the cave. At least there were trees and a little shade along the creek at the bottom.

flower alongside the creek.

flower alongside the creek.

The cave is up there somewhere?

The cave is up there somewhere?

Now though the weather changed as a few thunderclouds rolled in and I nervously hurried along the trickling creek hoping to reach the cave still high above me before it rained. It was a short stretch of trail so soon enough I was safely past the creek. Not before a covey of Quail burst out from the bushes giving me a bit of a start. Just as fast as they appeared¬† though they retreated back under cover of nearby bushes so I didn’t get any pictures. A dozen ground squirrels sunning themselves on nearby rocks were just as fast but one stuck his head out long enough for a quick photograph.

peering from the rocks

peering from the rocks

Damsel fly Down by the creek.

Damsel fly Down by the creek.

Tut tut, looks like rain.

Tut tut, looks like rain.

Lizard along the trail

Lizard along the trail

I was pleasantly surprised to find the entrance to be larger then I had imagined though the level of damage and graffiti I had heard about was present

Cave entrance

Cave entrance

Formations, columns

Formations, columns

large stalagmite / mound

more formations, marble ceiling

more formations, marble ceiling

Sure enough it was raining when I emerged from the cave but not enough to really trouble me and there was even a faint double rainbow.

rainbows

rainbows

I made it back down in time to stop at Mcnallys for a bite to eat before heading home.