Tag Archives: Waterfalls

April 6, 2017 Mariposa Fairground, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

A Final Visit to Yosemite National Park

El Capitan

El Capitan

A spectacular valley without a doubt! I had been wanting to revisit Yosemite for many years but was usually going through that part of California either too early or too late in the year. So this year I waited out the weather and finally yesterday made it into the park.

Yosemite

Yosemite

Mariposa Fairgrounds Campground

Since every campsite in Yosemite was reserved ( and this is early April, not exactly peak season ), I chose to stay at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, just south of the town of Mariposa. This is just a grass ( turned to mud during the 3 days of rain I experienced here ) field with only a couple level spots, but they do have electric and water hookups AND a very useable wifi   system. Right next to the highway and spaces are pretty tight, but at $30/night, a bargain in                   $$$ California.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

When I arrived the only open road into the National Park was Route 41 into the south entrance of the park. This meant backtracking on Route 49 and picking up Route 41 in Oakhurst, a long way around to access the park, took about 2 hours, what with a tree clearing road closure for 40 minutes on Route 41 and then a 25 minute wait at the ticket booth for the park. Fortunately, while I was in the park, Route 140, the western entrance to the park, that had been closed due to a road washout, was reopened and it only took me about 45 minutes to return to my campsite in the afternoon.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

With this winter’s above normal snowfall in the Sierras, all of Yosemite’s waterfalls are pretty impressive right now.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls

Due to the prolonged drought and the bark beetle, a lot of the trees within, and outside, the park have died and the valley looks a little more worn and desolate because of this. The huge crowds, even now, at the beginning of April, also contribute to the worn appearance of the park, loved to death, I suppose.

Spring Runoff Yosemite

Spring Runoff Yosemite

The large parking lot at the Visitor’s Center and Lower Yosemite Falls was completely full, and despite circling around the lots twice, I was unable to find a spot to park here. And, again, remember, this is in early April, not peak summer time. I know I would never want to experience this place that time of the year.

Spring Runoff Yosemite

Spring Runoff Yosemite

Without a doubt, this place is still a miracle of Mother Nature, but it is just too small an area to handle the millions of people that visit each year. Unlike other popular Parks like Yellowstone or Glacier, all the visitors are concentrated in a relatively compact area on the valley floor as oppose to being spread over several hundred square miles as in Yellowstone.

Blown Away

Blown Away

This waterfall appeared to be completely blown away by the winds howling along at the top of the canyon walls.

Blown Away

Blown Away

The road to Glacier Point and also Route 120 that comes over the mountains from the east side of the Sierras, are both still closed as usual until much later in the spring. I guess that means I will never get to see the view from the upper reaches of the park, since I can’t imagine coming back again. Still an awe inspiring valley, if only we could get rid of all the tourists!

So now it’s on to the coast, Bodega Bay, for a few days of yet more rain, then slowly continue my trek north, along the Oregon coast.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

April 1, 2017 Lake Kaweah, California

Potholes

Potholes

Still Waiting Out Weather Conditions for Yosemite

While waiting for the snow to stop falling and messing up opportunities to explore Yosemite National Park, I have been poking around the back roads around Three Rivers, California, and, once again, when weather permits, taking drives up into Sequoia National Park. The shot above shows a potholed stream at the end of Mineral King Road, just outside Three Rivers.

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

Last post I showed a Google Maps image of the serpentine road leading up into the sequoia groves …

Serpentine Road to the Sequoia Groves

Serpentine Road to the Sequoia Groves

… but I thought this image taken from the road itself would give a better idea of just how severe a mountain drive this is.

Mountain Stream

Mountain Stream

But one of the advantages gained by climbing this road up into the 7000′ elevation range is discovering snow melt filled streams like this one running through the tall pines.

Mountain Stream

Mountain Stream

Snowpack measured in the Sierras this spring show levels up to 190% of normal accumulations, a very good sign of California finally getting a little break from the severe drought conditions of the past several years.

Potholes

Potholes

Being up here this early does present many obstacles to getting to explore the upper elevations ( roads closed due to snow accumulation ) around Sequoia National Park, but it also does give one access to many steams that later in the year have most likely all but dried up and disappeared.

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff

Potholes

Potholes

Redbud and Mountain Stream

Redbud and Mountain Stream

Still finding redbud blooms while exploring the upper elevations!

Hope to proceed up to Yosemite in the next day or two as there appears to be a brief window of favorable weather approaching.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

July 19, 2015 Wasilla, Alaska

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

A Gorgeous Day at Hatcher Pass

Yesterday I left Anchorage and travelled a short way north to Wasilla and set up in the Walmart parking lot. I am truly experiencing a real wilderness adventure the past week or so, boondocking first in Cabella’s parking lot and now at Walmart, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find a decent private campground in my Alaska travels. All have you packed in like sardines and seem very much overpriced for what they offer.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Three Rocks

Three Rocks

With nice weather predicted for today I was out and about before 7 AM and drove out the Wasilla-Fishhook Road heading for the Hatcher Pass. The Little Susitna River parallels the road as you gain elevation on the way up to the pass, so I had to stop for a few river shots.

Little Susitna River

Little Susitna River

Little Susitna River

Little Susitna River

The easily climbed paved road up to the State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass provides several great vantage points for photos as well as a couple of primitive campgrounds that would handle mid-sized rigs.

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

There are a few restored buildings at the State Park and some old mining facilities that have definitely suffered from years of abandonment.

Old Mine Works

Old Mine Works

Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

There also was this Alaskan Marmot warming himself up in the early morning sun.

Alaska Marmot

Alaska Marmot

He appeared pretty used to human presence but kept a close eye on this photographer as I was capturing his image.

Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass

Just before you reach the State Park, there is a gravel road that takes off to the left and heads up to Hatcher Pass itself. This is a little narrow and steep in a couple spots, and although it probably could be done in the motorhome, i wouldn’t recommend doing so.

Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass

The road climbs for a half mile or so to a small parking area at the very top where you can walk out a footpath for some pretty dramatic views of the valley below where the road then takes you eventually to Willow.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Some of the high meadows up here have this weird mounded texture. These mounds are about a yard wide and rise up about a foot or so in the center and are covered in moss.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

I have no idea how or why these exist, and can’t say as I have ever encountered anything like them before.

Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass

At times today, I literally did have my head in the clouds.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top

Hatcher Pass View From the Top

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

As you can see, you are well above treeline up here and the air is crisp and clean, the distant view just simply spectacular.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

The narrow gravel road, in relatively good shape, leads you down from the pass and to the town of Willow, about thirty miles away.

Mine Tailings

Mine Tailings

Along the road there are a few active mining operations as well as some abandoned ventures.

Sounding the Alarm

Sounding the Alarm

All along this road, especially at the higher elevations, were these ground squirrels, some of whom were a little wary of me …

The Lookout

The Lookout

…and some that probably had discovered that some people will throw them some little treats if they look cute and approach your vehicle.

Ground Squirrel Portrait

Ground Squirrel Portrait

This guy was one of the latter.

All along this road, I was constantly scanning the meadows and mountain slopes looking for wildlife. I was sure I would have to see some sheep or bears somewhere along the way, but I never saw anything, even though I stopped every mile or so and glasssed all the slopes. Perhaps the weekend warriors scared evrything off? It just looks like there would have to be wildlife up here.

Descending to Treeline

Descending to Treeline

The road eventually descends back below treeline, where you start to encounter fireweed once again.

Road to Willow

Road to Willow

Roadside Fireweed

Roadside Fireweed

This was close to a ninety mile round trip and it took me about six hours to make it around with all the stops for photographs. The Willow side of the mountains appears to be a very popular spot for the local ATV crowd.  THere were several pulloffs for camping along that section of the road and on this Sunday afternoon, almost all of them were occupied by campers with ATV’s. The State Park land doesn’t allow ATV’s.

If you are ever in the Wasilla area and have some decent weather, this is a must do trip.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

June 9, 2015 Seward, Alaska

Sea Otters

Sea Otters

Eight Soggy Days

Well, it’s been a week since my last post, a longer than usual pause caused by a couple of factors, a lack of internet availability and a lack of any kind of activity worthy of posting. Eight straight days of rain and leaden gray skies have put my Alaska adventures on hold. Without an internet connection, I am not sure just how long this bad weather streak is going to continue, but the long range forecast, back when I was in Anchorage, was calling for two weeks of this wet stuff, so I suppose I’m only half way there.

I left Cabella’s parking lot/campsite last Wednesday at noon, but only made it about 25 miles south on the Seward Highway, deciding to pull off and camp at the turnoff at MM 92.5. The strong wind from the south and heavy rain was making driving a little uncomfortable and I knew I was in no rush to get anywhere, so better safe than sorry.

I awoke the next morning to rain … and the odd sight of two individuals on paddle boards working their way seaward at 5:30 AM in just horrible weather conditions. For the life of me, I just couldn’t figure what was going on there. And about five minutes later, it became clear just what these two were up to as the infamous Turnagain Arm tidal bore came rushing in. This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this, a wall of rushing water, pushing a wave of perhaps five of 6 feet in height, moving at an incredible speed down the waterway. And these two guys had been paddling out to meet it and ride it back in. Both had fallen behind the crest and were paddling furiously to catch back up with the front of the surge, but never were able to get there.

Five minutes later, once again through my rain streaked windows, I saw what I at first thought were some white caps racing in the direction of the surge, only 30 feet from the shoreline, at least I assumed that must be what I was seeing. It took a few seconds to realize that what I was looking at was a pod of Beluga Whales racing in with the tide. They were gone in just a few seconds and the sighting was not as spectacular as one might think since Turnagain Arms waters are a cloudy, silt laden gray and all you actually see of the whales is a quick glimpse of their backs as they roll along with the tide, no head, fins, or tails, just a three or four foot section of back. Still kind of neat to finally actually see at least a part of these creatures.

So Thursday morning, I continued on south to Seward on what probably is a beautiful drive along the water and through the mountains, but with the rain and low lying clouds, there wasn’t much to see today. I will have to hope my return on this road coincides with some clearer weather. I arrived in Seward and was able to snag a waterfront campsite with electric and water. I had decided to forego boondocking because of the inclement weather that was forecast for the next couple of weeks, weather conditions not terribly favorable for generating electricity with my solar setup.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Right

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Right

Seward Waterfront Campground

The Seward waterfront campsites are $30 for utilities and $15 for primitive. The sites are flat, stone surfaced and really tightly spaced.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Left

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Left

I had to actually ask my neighbor to move his truck so that I could access my basement storage doors the other day … now that is what I call very tight spacing. So I have constant rain, absolutely no privacy, no satellite TV ( too far north ), no over the air TV, no phone, and no internet signal. And there may well be another week of this to endure.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View out Front

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View out Front

The one redeeming, life saving, feature of this particular site is the view out the front windshield. So far, through the rain streaked windshield, I have seen a humpback whale semi breach only a hundred yards out, sea lions snagging fish close to shore, bald eagles flying overhead, and my favorite entertainers, a pair of sea otters that hunt near the shoreline every day, plucking mussels from the rocks just offshore then surfacing and devouring their catch while floating on their backs, no more than a hundred feet away. The red arrow in the image above is pointing to one of them out there when I happened to take this shot. Unlike me, I suppose  they don’t really mind the rain.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

 

The Rain Stops ! ( but only for five hours )

Two days ago, the rain actually stopped for a couple of hours and I was able to get my long lens and tripod out and get a few shots of these guys, actually, probably gals, as I think, from their interactions, that they may be a mom and last years offspring, though I don’t know that for sure.

As always, click any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

Sea Otters

Sea Otters

 

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

Mew Gull

Mew Gull

Mew Gull

Mew Gull

During this short break in the weather I also got a couple shots of the Mew Gulls when they came close to get a drink of fresh water in the puddles in front of the motorhome.

Seward Waterfall

Seward Waterfall

While the rain held off for a few hours I drove north a couple of miles and took the Nash Road around to the other side of the sound to explore a little and ran across a beautiful waterfall on the side of the road.

Seward Waterfall

Seward Waterfall

SewardDetail5

SewardDetail3

Seward Waterfall

Seward Waterfall

Seward Waterfall

Seward Waterfall

At the end of Nash Road there is a large gravel parking area where I found several folks camping, despite an older sign on a bulletin board there stating that the campground was closed. There had to be at least twenty Rvs and tenters set up there though, so obviously, no one is stopping people from camping there. A definite boondocking possibility for the Seward area.

Well, I am off to the Seward Library in hopes of being able to post this blog entry, if you are reading this, then I guess I must have had some success there. Once again, it may well be a while until the rain ends and I have reason to do another post, but stay tuned.