Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On The Trail in the Eastern Sierra



Last weekend I decided it was time for a break ... My wife and I packed up the van and headed for the hills! We left Saturday at around noon and the snow levels were down pretty low in the Sierras so I was a bit worried that I may need snow chains...What a beautiful drive across the freshly green Central Valley on up to the Eastern Sierras ... The huge orchards full of fruit trees all in full bloom as you travel through the valley were spectacular to see ...

The snow started to fall on us around Mi-Wuk Village and it got thicker and thicker as we got closer to Pinecrest Lake...The townhouse at Leland Meadows was buried in snow.
So, we decided to stay in a nice cabin at the Strawberry Inn...
The next morning there was a blanket of fresh powder covering everything ...
Later on we  headed up to Pinecrest Lake where the differences in the seasons were like night and day ...
Above is a picture of the lake last Sunday and below here is a shot taken in the summer time ...
I have fished this lake for many years in the Spring, Summer and Fall but never had I seen it in the Winter after the PG&E dam has let out most of the water and rest of the lake freezes over like this...          There was even a real igloo on the beach ... Mi-Wuk Eskimo's ? lol ... .
Later the same day we headed up to Dodge Ridge where the Winter fun was in full swing... The conditions on the slopes were near perfect after the all night snow storm...
One of my favorite things about staying at the Strawberry Inn is being right on the banks of the South Fork of the Stanislaus River ... The river this time of year is more beautiful than ever... The water flows in full and the banks are all covered in white as well as the rocks in the stream..There is a really cool two story gazebo right next to the water that is very tall and provides some nice exclusive views of the river ...
The next day we headed up to the Leland Sno-Park and spent the day tubing at the resort there...That was very cool and should be in the Olympics ...lol...
The drive up to Leland offers some of the most beautiful views of the Eastern Sierra Sonora Valley that I have ever seen ... Highway 108 heading up to Sonora Pass is closed for the entire Winter but this stretch of the road is still open ... What a spectacular view of this Eastern Sierra Valley ... As I looked out across this valley I thought of John Muir and how it must have been for him crossing this beautiful Sierra on foot seeing it in that time... The views that he had discovered alone out here must have brought a tear ... .The next morning I had some time alone to go for a hike and so I went off trail on a closed road back in the woods that went along the river on the hillside ... The snow was deep and I sank to my waist a few times along the way using my big mullberry walking stick to climb out, I was able to continue on ...
I saw a large set of cougar tracks in the snow that led to a spot where the cat jumped up some snow covered granite ledges ... I also saw more than one set of  fresh bear tracks in the snow that looked like a momma bear and a cub so I decided not to venture further into this snow covered wilderness ... I saw many animal tracks in the snow while hiking that trail such as raccoons, coyote, cougar, black bear, and a lot of deer tracks ... The thing about tracking animals in the snow is that it isn't hard to see where something has been and eventually the animal may leave an identifiable track ... This trail was a lot of fun to hike on all alone in the early morning out in the snowy forest listening to the sounds of the river ....
On the way home I stopped by one of my favorite camps up there called Jenness Park ...I had to stop by there and get a shot of the old toy Steam Engine Train buried in the snow parked along a fork of the Mokolumne River...
Hidden four miles way down a windy cliffside road leading into a beautiful little private camp ... The views of the valley and the foggy snowy ridge across the divide are incredible on the way down ...
video.
Above here is a video clip of the road ... It was raining on our side of the valley and snowing across the divide up on the ridge...This was a really great trip and we are looking forward to enjoying these mountains in the  Springtime for trout season ...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Smokey. I used to go trout fishing down around Bridgeport. I just love the eastern side of the Sierras.

Anna, The Lemon Lady said...

It looks cold, yet so beautiful. I have been too lazy lately, enjoying warm and cozy Bay Area. I suppose my daughter would be thrilled to play in the snow...

Gambolin' Man said...

Smokey - what a beautiful time / moment you captured up there! Nice job!