September 28, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Exploring the Cascades

Below Sahalie Falls
Below Sahalie Falls

With some wonderful autumn weather presenting itself, I drove about 80 miles north of Bend to check on foliage on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. While traveling south on Route 126 towards Belknap I happened to stop to check out a couple of waterfalls along the way, Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls.

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

Unfortunately, instead of my camera gear, I only took Sam along with me for a longer than expected, though still short, walk along the trail to Koosah Falls. I did take the camera gear down the trail to Sahalie Falls and will be going back to revisit both falls on a better day for water shots, less in the way of perfect blue skies.

Oregon Foliage
Oregon Foliage

Mostly coniferous forests here in Oregon, so fall foliage is certainly not the same as back in New Hampshire, but if you search long enough, there are some stretches of mixed forest here and there, and that is the case along Route 126.

Oregon Foliage
Oregon Foliage
Kayakers on Clear Lake
Kayakers on Clear Lake
Lava Fields Foliage
Lava Fields Foliage

The one thing here that is unavailable in New Hampshire is a shot of fall foliage in a lava field. Throughout the Cascades there are many large lava fields and the pioneer plants that take hold in these fields do tend to be deciduous shrubs and trees.

Yesterday I completed round 5 of 6 of my chemo treatments at the Bend Memorial Clinic. One more three treatment round and I will be swapped over to a Revlimid maintenance treatment and taken off the steroids and other chemo drugs. Might take a couple more weeks here in Bend to get the new maintenance dosage adjusted since my oncologist plans on starting off with some pretty low dosages. So it is looking like early November before making my escape from Bend for warmer climes.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click ( on the image below) 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 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 !