CA – A Month of Seasons, Far NorCal Style (April 2022)

The month started with temperatures feeling more like summer, but thankfully Mother Nature decided to shake up the forecasters by sending us on a rollercoaster ride. From freeze and wind gust warnings, to low elevation snow, and finally to measurable rain.

When Whiskeytown National Recreation Area announced an April 1st opening of trails after a nearly 4-year closure, it was easy to wonder if this was an April Fool’s Day joke. But alas, it was true and I was first legal steps on the Papoose Trail. It was worth a dedicated post (link). A few days later my friend Rebecca and I took the main Boulder Creek Trail to Boulder Creek Falls. This view of the creek brings back memories of days before the 2018 Carr Fire.

The Park was a little tardy in removing their closure signs. The snowdrop bushes were loaded. Indian Rhubarb (top right) likes to grow in creeks, and I believe I initially learned about these beauties at Whiskeytown. Star Tulip and Hosackia stipularis var. ottleyi (bottom right).

I was ecstatic to join my friend Cathy for a jaunt in Trinity County where I was introduced to the Fritillaria purdyi lily. It’s a tiny little thing. My friend Bino Bob is about 1.25″ tall for reference.

I was treated to displays of Lemon Fawn Lilies and Lady Slipper Orchids, hidden in the leaf littered oak forests.

When the local forecast called for 90+ degree temperatures, I grabbed Poppy Pack and headed for higher ground. With no goal in mind except to turnaround at snowline. We found plentiful sights, smells and sounds of spring.

When I reached snowline, I was happy to soak in this grand view and dream of further exploration.

Home sweet home. Lulled to sleep by a nearby creek. Temp dropped to 44 my first night and 34 the second. I added this one pound tent to my quiver in 2021 (Zpacks Plexamid) and finally replaced my quilt with one from Enlightened Equipment (10 degree 950 fill). With my aging body I’m motivated to drop pack weight while maintaining safety and comfort.

Finding this display of Western Pasqueflowers was a highlight of this trip. I used this photo as a headline in my recent post about individual responsibility when it comes to caring for public lands (link).

This sunrise view was a reward for sore muscles after climbing 3,800 feet. My mantra was you need to do hard things if you want to do harder things.

One week later the trail was buried again (not my photo). I was giddy to delay spring!

Locally rain finally arrived! We are still far behind normal levels but more rain fell in April than in the previous three months combined.

When the storms cleared, I couldn’t resist a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I was ecstatic to find the first of the season snow plants.

A ranger pointed out this goose sitting on her nest. She expected a hatch any day.

Since we were cheated out of winter, I need another snowshoe adventure and Mt Shasta offered the perfect opportunity.

I found icicle goodness and moody skies.

Nature’s decorations are better than anything we can mimic.

This storm made for a wonderful reason to delay my spring jaunt departure.

I might be feeling a little prickly after focusing on trip prep rather than enjoying daily adventures. Happily I still got out for daily walks where I could find roadside surprises like these yellow cactus blooms.

I’m super excited to get back into jaunting mode. If all goes according to plan, soon I’ll be frolicking among these beauties.

It’s going to be a challenging season as I work to avoid fires and smoke. My motto will be get out now, enjoy every day and hope for good air tomorrows. There are already big fires in New Mexico and Arizona.

Dino and Bino Bob are ready for adventure and nagging Jan to hurry with her final chores. Where oh where shall we go? Oh how I love the unknown with many opportunities awaiting exploration. Curiosity is a good thing!

CA – Marble Mountains – How Deep is Deep? (07/16)

There is no better way to test your fitness level and gear than to go out for a hike, better yet an overnight trip, in challenging terrain, and in less than ideal conditions. This is known as a shake-down trip. I jumped at the chance to join my friend, Catherine, in her final preparations for another long section hike in the high Sierra. 

Catherine is no slouch. She knows how to select challenging trails. 

We departed from the Lovers Camp Trailhead on the Red Rock Trail.

Had we gone right instead of left, we’d have had an up close and personal view of White and Black Marble Mountains as seen in this photo. Red Rock Mountain is in the foreground.

First destination was Little Elk Lake (6 acres, 5 feet deep), about 6 miles from the trailhead with 2,000 feet of climbing before descending 600+ feet down to the lake.

Found this old sign. Road? Trail? 

Our primary destination was Deep Lake (16 acres, 68 feet deep), about 10 miles from the trailhead with 3,300′ of climbing and 1,100′ of descending.

Our objective the next day was to hike off trail to the top of these bluffs to find what are known as the ABCD or Alphabet Lakes of Aspen, Buckhorn, Chinquapin, and Dogwood.

But Mother Nature had other plans. My starry starry sky went dark about 4am. I added my rain fly and sure enough at 6am, I heard that all too familiar gentle pitter-patter sound. By 7am, intensity increased. For the next 24 hours we endured strong gusty winds and heavy winds. My tent location was not great for weathering a storm, but with the wind and rain I elected to stay put rather than attempt relocation. It did great, I only had to contend with occasional blowing debris. 

Between gusts, I’d peek out thinking the storm might be moving on, or at least taking a break long enough for me to grab some water or visit the bushes. 

After spending most of the day in my tent (so thankful for my phone e-books), I was more than ready to leave the next day. We knew it wouldn’t be safe to attempt our off-trail adventure in such conditions, so it was time to pack up our wet gear and head down the trail. 

From white caps to calming waters as the storm started to clear. 

Did the blue skies tempt us to stay? No, we checked the forecast on our InReach devices and found 30-40% chance of continued rain for next couple of days. Lesson: DUH, why didn’t we check forecast before we left? You’d think we were amateurs; but no, with the great weather we’d been having, we just got complacent. 

Goodbye Deep Lake . . . you can see the trail junction sign in the foreground. We’d be exiting via the Boulder Creek Trailhead. 

Hiking through soaked foliage is a good way to test gear. The flowers were dripping. 

Goodbye White and Black Marble Mountains. 

A special treat was viewing Second Valley and Boulder Peak, places I need to visit in the future. 

As my readers know, I LOVE wildflowers. During my first visit to the Marble Mountains I was stunned with the density and enormity of the blooms. In fact, it was the first time I ever said ENOUGH. After walking though meadows with flowers taller than me, crowding the trail, alive with buzzing bees, and thick with humidity, I truly was ready for a break. The flowers weren’t at peak yet, so I did not have such an experience this time, instead it was easy to appreciate single blooms. 

Dates Hiked: July 7-9, 2016

Jan’s Tips:

Marble Mountain Wilderness Resources:

Books:

Maps:

Wilderness Permits are NOT required for overnight trips

Campfire permits are needed for the operation of a backpacking or camp stove. Online Permit Link

Bear canisters are NOT required