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

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 !

Toy Run


Early morning motorcycles, Toy run

Early morning motorcycles, Bakersfield Toy run

I dragged myself out of bed this cold foggy morning to join in with (what one tv station reported at least) 6000 other bikers for the ride over to the fairgrounds to deliver toys and donations to the Salvation army.

Did I mention it was foggy?

Did I mention it was foggy?

I was glad I got up early as I got a nice spot up near the front of the lineup and enjoyed a cup of coffee provided by wonderful volunteers while I checked out some of the bikes.

 

Santa!

Santa!

 

 

Snowman in Bakersfield?

Snowman in Bakersfield?

People went all out and there were all sorts of decorations and everything from huge cruisers to little trail bikes. Even some very cool custom cars. Cruising through town while folks cheered and police held the intersections was fun. The food and festivities at the fair were great too. Look forward to next year, hope to do it again.

Arriving at the fairgrounds

Arriving at the fairgrounds

Bikes

Bikes

Lots more pictures at http://captnemo.smugmug.com/Events/Cars-shows-and-events/2014-Toy-Run/

California Dreaming


California Dreams

California Dreams

Well schools back in full swing so between class, work and homework I’m keeping pretty busy. Before the semester started though I managed yet another trip to the coast to escape the heat and hang out at the beach for awhile. It was lovely riding the motorcycle with a cool breeze for a change.

surfs up

surfs up

Pismo

Pismo

Beach

Beach

 

I spotted this neat old bike in a window when I stopped to grab something to eat.

Thor

Thor

Beautiful Sunset

Beautiful Sunset

 

Woof

Woof

A great day at the beach.

Surfer at the Beach sunset

Beach sunset

 

Good to be underground again


Leigh in the Cave

Leigh in the Cave

Not so windy weekend wandering around wonderful winding passages.

This cave has long been  high on my list of places I wanted to visit but somehow my schedule never coincided with a trip. This year I was happy to see that the trip would take place during summer break when I would be able to go.

I was also excited as I haven’t had an opportunity to go caving as much as I’d like since moving down to Bakersfield. It was a bit of a ride on my motorcycle to the meeting spot in Columbia but I made it easy by spending the night in Ceres so it was just a short ride in the morning. There I was happy to see Kip pull up as I always enjoy going caving with him. right behind him pulled in Ben and Leigh who I had previously caved with at Millerton and our fearless leader Martin.

 

Martin poses beneath some formations

Martin poses beneath some formations

We all climbed into two vehicles for the drive up to the cave. After a short hike we reached the cave. Martin gave us a rundown on the history of the cave. It was interesting to hear it had been re-opened as recently as the 70’s then sealed closed and re-opened again in the late 90’s. Hopefully the current restrictions on visitation will continue to keep the cave in it’s beautiful condition. Speaking of which I had a horrible time deciding where to take pictures as there was enough formations and decorated passageways to keep me busy for a day or two but Martin had said we would be spending 6 or seven hours in the cave and had a couple of projects to complete while there.  Once we had the gate open I rigged the rope while Martin got the supplies ready for these projects. Kip climbed down to open the lower gate and we were ready to go caving.  Right near the bottom of the drop Ben and Kip spotted a newt (probably Taricha torosa sierrae – Sierra Newt

Correction thanks to inaturalist.org I now know it was a Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii) both are salmanders but then newts and ensatinas branch from there.

Not a newt- Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii)

Not a newt- Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii)

 

I took a couple of pictures then shooed him off to the side of the passage so we would be sure not to step on him upon our return. The next main room we entered had lots of nice stalactites and soda straws so I happily set about taking pictures. Martin had brought along string and flags which we used to mark some of the more sensitive areas of the cave so hopefully future trips will not disturb them.  We continued to the area of the cave where the lions tales formations are located and I was excited to photograph them. Of course my flashes promptly ceased to function. After a few minutes of fiddling with them I discovered that the batteries in one had leaked, possibly due to overheating on the motorcycle trip up. A quick change of batteries and they still weren’t working. I was puzzled till Martin suggested checking the settings and sure enough during the battery change a flash had switched to an auto mode instead of manual. Yeah I was back in business. I finished taking a couple pictures of the lions tails and then carefully proceeded to a sensitive area where we took off our helmets in order to protect the fragile formations. Returning to the main junction we had a break for lunch then I opted to stick around and take pictures of helectites while the others checked out the rest of the cave. On the way out we stopped and Martin had a final project to complete- the lower ladder had become a little shaky as its bottom support had cracked. He successfully drilled a hole in the ladder and support then connected them securely with a bolt.

Lions tail

Lions tail

Kip admiring stalactites

Kip admiring stalactites

helectites

helectites

After exiting the cave, securing the gate and returning to Colombia we realized it was too late too make it to the restaurant for dinner and as both Martin and I had lengthy drives ahead of us we all loaded up in our respective vehicles and headed for home. Another great trip  in the Motherlode.

Arriving at Columbia on my Motorcycle

Arriving at Columbia on my Motorcycle