CA – Leaping into my 2020 Spring Jaunt

Leap Day seemed like the perfect day to kick off my next jaunt. As has been a tradition my first stop was at nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. While December and January delivered a fair amount of snow, February was one of the driest on record. So sadly I was able to walk around much of the northern end of the park sans snowshoes. I’d never hiked the Lily Pond loop and was happy to find this great view of Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak.

Last year I rushed down 395 knowing I had a one-day window to beat a storm. When I checked the weather forecast a few days prior to my departure this year there wasn’t any precipitation in the forecast. Well it appears I should have checked it again.

I awoke to a little snow in the morning.

With little to do in Bridgeport and the road to the hot springs sketchy, chain controls awaited. Thankfully I have 4×4 with Mud and Snow tires so I could skip chains.

Thankfully there were few vehicles on the road and the plows were keeping it clear and sanded. I don’t love driving in these conditions, especially as it was very windy with snow blowing across the road somewhat limiting visibility.

Mono Lake

Convict Lake

This was a welcome sight the next morning.

Lone Pine Peak from Alabama Hills.

I’d say March came in like a lion.

Adventure Date(s):

  • February 29 – March 1, 2020


CA – 395 Jaunting (early spring)

I had a one-day window between storms to try to safely make it south on 395. While the road was clear, the landscape was covered in plentiful snow. Have you ever seen a white Mono Lake basin? Even though the visitor center was closed, I couldn’t resist taking a few short walks to capture the image.

I found a nice place near Bishop to camp for my first night back on the road with views of the snowy mountains of the eastern sierra.

I hiked to the nearby mesa for sunset.

It’s going to take a long time for all that snow to melt this spring.

My timing couldn’t have been better as once again the 395 was filled with closures and chain controls. I breathed a nice sign of relief to be headed toward greener pastures.

It seems I’m always in a rush to reach some hiking destination when driving 395 and thus had never taken time to visit Manzamar National Historic Site.

I’ve always had a special connection to the Japanese Internment Camps as I grew up not too far from Tule Lake CA where nearly 19,000 Japanese where held. My mom’s parents also lived at a forest service lookout where they were tasked with watching for Japanese airplanes, and in fact my grandma spotted one.

The families are assisting in creating replicas of the amazing gardens that the Japanese created while living in this camp.

Staff provided me with a map for a few mile walking tour. I highly recommend this option as well as taking the full driving tour.

It hurts my heart to know how we as humans can somehow rationalize such ill treatment of others. What resonated for me however after this visit was the resilience of the prisoners especially in their turning crappy living conditions in to homes, growing gardens and creating sanctuary spaces. I was surprised to learn they could order from Sears! I’m grateful the families and survivors have helped to create a living memory.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 1-2, 2019




Northeastern Sierra – Finding Fall (10/14)

I love exploration and firsts. My senses are on high alert as I absorb fresh stimuli. It can be overwhelming, so I slow down, pace myself, find a way to enjoy the many new wonders without succumbing to the pull of seeing and doing everything. It’s good motivation to make notes and save more firsts for future trips.

Beyond firsts are my love of fall foliage. Combining the two provides nothing by smiles.

First #1 – Driving Highway 89 from Quincy south to Donner Lake, followed by a hike on the PCT between Highway 40 and Interstate 80. Smiles abound when I’m among granite boulders backdropped by views of Donner Lake, the train tunnels, old bridges, crooked trees and so much more. I’m thrilled to finish this small section of the PCT I’d missed when I hiked from Highway 50 north a couple of years ago. I can now mark Section K DONE!

Donner Lake from the PCT

First #2 – Driving Highway 89 south from Highway 50 to Hope Valley for a little Leaf Peeping.

A tapestry of color in Hope Valley

First #3 – Driving Highway 88 west from 89 to Carson Pass, followed by a hike to Lake Winnemuca including a bit of trail sharing with the PCT, views of Elephants Back and Round Top Mountains, and my first time into the Mokelumne Wilderness.

First #4 – Driving 89 south through Markleeville and over Monitor Pass to 395, continuing south past Sonora Junction and finally down to Bridgeport. This became ground zero of sorts as I explored the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Hoover Wilderness.

Twin Lakes and Sawtooth Ridge (I think)

Red Lake and Black Mountain (I think) in the Virginia Lakes Canyon

Kavanaugh Ridge (I think)

Dunderberg Peak (I think)

Lundy Canyon

Green Creek Canyon

Green Lake

Looking down on Green Lake enroute to West Lake

Travertine Hot Springs

First #5 – Continuing my journey south on 395, I find Mono Lake. What fun I had exploring the many wonders of the Mono Lake Basin.

Mono Lake from Panum Crater

Tufa statues at South Tufa Park

Sunset near South Tufa Park

Sunrise near South Tufa Park

The colors in the surrounding mountains are phenomenal

First #6 – Introductions to Inyo National Forest, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Lee Vining, Tioga Pass (120W) and 158 (aka June Lake Loop) along 395.

The magical colors Parker Creek Canyon

Parker Lake

The rocks that make for the magical colors of the mountains

Parker Lake and Mono Lake (with the high winds of the day apparent on Paoha Island).

Mono Lake on the left, Mono Craters on the right. Fierce winds and mid-day sun challenged this photographer.

This was a grand adventure of firsts, with many more firsts further south awaiting exploration.

Jan’s Tips:

  • Due to bear activity and the proximity of these areas to Yosemite, in most areas food cannot be left in your vehicle at trailheads or campgrounds. Bear boxes are rarely available at trailheads outside of Yosemite, and when present they are of limited size and most likely need to be shared with other hikers. In some areas, you’ll be cited and fined if food is found in your vehicle. I’ve been a witness to the damage a bear can cause a vehicle and the associated repair costs. I found this to be an unwelcome challenge when attempting to combine car camping, exploring, day hiking and backpacking and accessing the area quite a distance from home base.