Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 23, 2013 - General Grant Area

Title: February 23, 2013 - General Grant Area
Trail head: General Grant Tree
Hike Info:
Trail: Dead Giant/North Grove Loops
Destination:Dead Giant
Distance: 3.3
Travel Time: 2:11  (1.51 mph)
Moving Time: 1:36 (2.06 mph)
Elevation Rise: 664'
Maximum Elevation: 6,419'


Trail head: Big Stump Parking Lot
Hike Info:
Trail: Big Stump Loop
Destination: Big Stump Area
Distance:  1.8

Travel Time: 1:26 (1.26 mph)
Moving Time: 1:01 (1.77 mph)
Elevation Rise: 212'
Maximum Elevation: 6,423'



Today's forecast is for a bright and beautiful day. And that is how things started. Sherri and I met with Karol, our fearless leader, and Beth for breakfast at the Blossom Tree Cafe in Sanger. I had the morning breakfast special of eggs, French toast, and hash browns. Filling. Then the other seven meetup members joined us at 8:30. Up we go to Grant Grove in Kings Canyon.

We stop briefly at the Visitor Center, then on to the General Grant parking lot. We decide we do not need snowshoes or snow tracks, the snow does not seem to be that deep; it does not go over my boots. We head down the Sunset Trail. We pass by the North Grove cutoff. Karol asks if I would like to lead since I know the way. So I go in front. Snow is not to bad, it snowed Tuesday and the snow is still pretty light, not packed yet. The trees are also full of snow, and it is not melting on us.

We get to the bottom of the road down, and the North Grove Loop takes off to the North, but we first want to pay a visit to the Dead Giant. So we head south. The road level's off. We go around a meadow, at least that is what it looks like in the Summer time. Now, there is standing water here and there. But we do not get wet as we are able to navigate around it.

This brings us to the Dead Giant Loop. This is a nice trail, a little elevation gain, but not too much. But instead of a road to follow, now it is a summer track. So I look for the indentation where the trail is, and the clearing which the trail follows. We quickly come to the Dead Giant and properly survey it, even getting a picture in.

Onward we go, continuing the loop. There is a nice lookout where you are able to see Sequoia Lake. But today, it is cloudy-sort of looks like we are in the middle of fog. So all we see is white. We complete the loop and start following back the trail to the North Grove Trail.

On the North Grove Trail, we are seeing more animal tracks. Looks like some rabbit, maybe squirrel. Then some deer tracks and some other animals. Wandering through these redwoods are always an amazing. But I find it particularly moving during the winter with the snow grace their branches and clothing their base. Today is no exception. These trees are just awesome. As we return back up the trail, we see more evidence of animals moving around in the snow. Some pretty recent. Then we look up and there are deer bounding above us. Great stuff. We get back to the cars a little after noontime.

Off to the cafe by the Visitor Center. I only had ice tea, and mooch a bit of Sherri's potato-bacon soup. Pretty good stuff. I was still pretty content with my breakfast still. It has gotten colder, and the clouds are still pretty thick. Down we go to Big Stump.

Lunch has made us a bit lethargic. But once we get going, we enjoy this walk. The snow is a bit deeper than the North Grove area. Some folks put on tracks, but I am doing ok without them. This area is beautiful, but a different kind of attraction. We descend down into the meadow, and wander around on the trail. We pass several stumps and wonder what kinds of stately trees stood where these stumps are.

Some of us climb up on the Mark Twain Stump. (What stumped Mark Twain?) The debate after the stump is where does the trail go? We decide it crosses the road, and we make for it. After that the trail climbs up. Now we find more tracks, this time, it is of a larger size animal. Koral identifies it as a bear. We see these tracks several times. There is a bit of concern, mostly because these are recent. But we do not see the bear. We complete the trail with a lot of good feelings. Not because it was strenuous, but because we enjoyed our time together and the beauty of the big trees.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2, 2013-Yosemite Valley

Title: February 2, 2013-Yosemite Valley
Trail head: Tram stop 17

Hike Info:
Trail: Mirror Lake Road
Destination: Mirror Lake
Actual Destination: Snow Creek Trail Jct
Distance: 6.2
Travel Time: 2:54   (2.14 mph)
Moving Time: 2:19 (2.68 mph)
Elevation Rise:  675'
Maximum Elevation: 4,203'

We met up with the hiking group at Kohl's around 7:30am, after getting gas. Karol is leading this expedition. Then the 17 of us got into four cars and started up the road to Yosemite Valley, stopping in Oakhurst along the way. We have Annie with us, making it four people in our car-Steven, Sherri, Gary and Annie. Got to the Valley and parked Curry Village at 10am. We will meet up with Jerry K at Tram stop 17.

We all have snow traks on, or some variant of them, and it is a good thing. The road up to Mirror Lake has ice on it, with a layer of water. With the traks, we do not slip. But the traks I am using are bit small for my boot and keep on flipping up. After awhile I trade out with Rosé who is using my YakTraks. They work a lot better, but they do come off once-Leslie finds it for me.

It is a short walk to Mirror Lake, maybe a mile plus. At the Lake, a family from Columbia takes the group's picture-it is the family's first to see Yosemite. The snow draped over the granite on Half Dome's shoulders looms above us. Snow and ice cover the remains of Mirror Lake, forming a white blanket for us to enjoy. We continue up Tenaya Creek, since the canyon is here for our taking. Some ice, some snow, some dirt and rock are our trail. We play leapfrog with another couple and then meet up with a bunch of people from Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto.

At the Snow Creek trail junction, we make a decision to turn around rather than to continue around the loop. I think the potential that the loop was closed because of a rockfall a couple of years ago, and the potential for a longer hike caused people to want to go back. But it is a pretty Winter hike. We return back to the tram and have it take us back to the car.

We drive over to Yosemite Lodge and have a late lunch. Beef chili seems to be a favorite. Then across the road we go to take a short walk up to the base of Yosemite Falls. Always refreshing to see these Falls, particularly since the last time we saw them in September, they were dry. It today, there is a base of frozen mist and the Falls are going pretty good.

We return back to the cars and go to the base of Eagle Pk. We spend about half an hour puttering around amongst the snow, rock and ice on our snowshoes. While this is Yosemite, this portion is to get a bit of experience on snowshoes on this trip. For some, it was their first experience with tennis rackets on their feet.

We end the day here having enjoyed our time in Yosemite-always a source of quiet joy for me, with good walking and pleasant company.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 - Giant Forest

Title: January 22, 2013 - Giant Forest
Trail head: Giant Forest Museum

 Hike Info:
Trail: Crescent Meadow Road
Destination: Crescent Meadow
Actual Destination: Moro Rock, Tunnel Log
Distance: 5.7
Travel Time: 4:18 (1.33 mph)
Moving Time: 2:55 (1.95 mph)
Elevation Rise: 819'
Maximum Elevation: 6,628'

Since the weather has been so good, the General's Highway between Grant Grove and Giant Forest is open. So we decided to go snowshoeing up the Crescent Meadow road. This is the same place which Steven and I took David and Rachel a couple of years ago. Steven got a new pair of snowshoes from Costco. So this is there first use.

We left Fresno at 8:40 and got to Giant Forest around 10:40 and left the car at 11:00. There was a short amount of icy pavement on the road, until we left behind the ranger's residence. Then there was snow and the walking was easier. But it had been well walked-some of packed, some of post-holed. But doable with our snowshoes.

The day is pleasant, not overly warm-Steven is in a T-shirt and I shed a layer of clothes. Our first stop is the Auto Log where we take pictures. Then we head back to the road and continue up towards the junction with the Moro Rock Loop. Instead of going around the loop, we head up a trail towards Moro Rock. We did the same thing a couple of years ago, except this time, instead of bearing right and hitting some cliffs, we go left and hit part of the Soldiers Trail. We take this eastward, going past the Roosevelt Tree and hit the road a short ways from the Moro Rock parking lot.

At the parking lot, we stop and have lunch-peanut butter and Nutella, of course. We take about half an hour. During this time, a family of five from Australia come down the stairs. After lunch, Steven decides to go up the stairs to Moro Rock for about 15 minutes. He made it up high enough to enjoy a view, but with the snow and ice, it was better not to go to the top. Looking at him come down, he was making sure that he did not slip-slow and steady. He does make it down safely.

On top of the Auto Log
Looking towards Mineral King

Moro Rock

We go eastward around the loop. We come across another segment of the Soldier Trail. I go over the side and follow it, while Steven and Sherri follows the road. The trail, even though it is close to the road, it seems like it is in a different world. The snow is mostly unbroken, except for another set of snowshoe tracks. The Sequioa's standing around me are just awesome. But after going a ways I decide to work my way back to the road. My way was shorter, but more strenuous, breaking fresh snow. They are about 10 minutes behind me.

Steven's Friend
Tunnel Log
We decide to continue on to the Tunnel Log, only about half a mile further. We find a snow bear there, smiling at us. It is turn around time and we head back at a pretty reasonable pace. The car finds us round 3:00. We then have dinner at Bear Mountain Pizza, well satisfied.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jan 18, 2013 Snowshoe Redwood Canyon Road

Title: Jan 18, 2013,Snowshoe Redwood Canyon Road
Trail head: Quail Flat Jct
Hike Info:
Trail: Redwood Canyon Rd from QuailFlat
Destination: Redwood Canyon Trailhead
Actual Destination: Someplace on theroad
Distance: 2.5 miles
Travel Time: 1:49 ( 1.38 mph)
Moving Time: 1:20 (1.88 mph)
Elevation Rise: 614'
Maximum Elevation: 6,975'
Minimum Elevation: 6,450'

The morning did not start out as too promising. The weather was not the issue—it was bright and beautiful. But we were getting a late start. Planned to leave by 9am, but we were just waking up by then. Sherri fixed us sourdough waffles—tasted pretty good. Then we puttered around and did not leave Fresno until 10:30am. So we got to Quail Flat close to Grant Grove just before noon.

During the summers, Quail Flat is the shortest way to Hume Lake.But during the winter, it is just a big parking lot. Across the General's Highway is the road down to the Redwood Canyon Trailhead.When we get there, we notice that the Redwood Canyon Rd had been traveled by some sort of four-wheel drive vehicle—leaving a couple of nice, not too deep, ruts. So down the road we went. Steven was onNordic skis. Sherri and I decided to use snowshoes. Well, down is the right term. We descended about 600'. Steven had the tougher time because of the ruts. It restricted is ability to maneuver. Sherri and I just lopped on.

About halfway through Big Baldy poked its snout out. It makes astatement that it is there, dominating the southern horizon. Besideit is Redwood Canyon. After traveling about 45 minutes, we came uponSteven, having stopped for a bite to eat. We decided to turn aroundthere and travel back up the road the same way we came. We probablywere about half of a mile away from our destination when we turnedaround. We got back to the car at 2:30, content with the day.

This was the first opportunity to use the GoPro camera which my brother got be for Christmas. I wore it with the forehead strap and set it to take pictures every 60 seconds. The pictures came out pretty clear with good resolution. The composition was a bit helter-skelter. Not many just facing the ground. The strap was tight at the start, but after loosening it up, was comfortable.

Friday, January 4, 2013

January 4, 2013 Skiing to Big Meadows

Title: January 4, 2013 Skiing to Big Meadows
Trail head: Big Meadows Winter Parking Lot
Hike Info:

Trail: Big Meadows Road
Destination: Big Meadows Warming Station
Actual Destination: Big Meadows Summer Tailhead
Distance: 7.4 miles
Travel Time: 3:17 (2.25mph)
Moving Time: 2:51 (2.60mph)
Elevation Rise: 639'
Maximum Elevation: 7,817'
Falls: 2 by Gary
Calories Burned: 2,883
Average Heart Rate: 143
High Heart Rate: 162

Sherri is sick, or at least getting over a sickness. So Steven and I took off cross-country skiing to one of our old stand-by places: Big Meadows, close to Grant Grove. It is a fine, beautiful day, unlike when we took my brother and Andrea up there a couple of years ago.

Being the first ski of the season, we, or should I say, I am, a bit wobbly. Anyway, we enjoy ourselves as we go along the ski tracks. A bit up, a bit down, with two real downs for me, but no face plants. We get to the Big Meadow warming hut. Today it is not needed, but it is a good place to sit down for a few minutes, and that is what we do. We have a Clif bar and then continue on.

We decide to continue on up the road for another mile to the Weaver Lake trailhead. Getting a bit hungry, we turn around and back we come. Nothing very spectacular. But just a plain old good day of skiing.