November 26, 2011
Before driving to Mono Lake directly from Lee Vining, we made a small Juno lake loop in order to enjoy the Sierras some more. The mountains there are amazing!
Or so it seemed to us coming from very hot weathers in Southern Utah, Nevada and major parts of California. The air was crisp and refreshing, it was wonderful!
And then we reached Mono Lake which is a State park now, but may loose its funding from the feds because of the budget cuts and then the access to its unique formations and shores will be forbidden:
Mono Lake is the saltiest lake in the US and also the largest of this type of a lake. It used to be as high as those formations we see. They formed around on the springs that come from the bottom with lots of Ca salts and combine with other minerals in the lake water to become nature’s sculptures of different shapes:
The lake doesn’t have inlets or outlets, therefore its water is saltier that sea water many times…it is so salty. that only one type of flies live there, that lay their eggs in the shallow waters and then only one type of tiny shrimp feed on the larvae. Therefore Mano lake is Eden for birds. Lots of California seagulls and other birds come here to nest and spend winters.
And that was it – a long way through Nevada deserts towards home…the whole day of driving…on Rt. 120, then Rt. 6 and then the Extraterrestrial Highway 375, and then on Rt. 93, Rt. 319 to Utah.. But on the way still in California we saw a cute B&B by the town Benton – they had their own hot springs and some bath tubs or other kind of tubs for the guests to soak – they were not seen from the main area. Then we stopped at Tonopah, which had similarities with other Nevada mining towns and finally stopped at a place which was even not a town – just a small restaurant Little AleInn in the desert and some wagons with people living in them:
Yes, the theme was poor extraterrestrials who as if have landed here in their flying soccer in secret circumtances years ago…
I don’t envy those several people who live there…But maybe they enjoy the greatest possibility of solitude…And they don’t look like monks or nuns…
That is all about this trip. Till next trips.
The next day we again drove towards the ocean and drove north on Shoreline Hwy Rt 1 till we reached Point Reyes National Seashore, which is on a peninsular. From the visitor’s center we drove only to Limantour beach:
It very much reminded me our seashore in Lithuania. Except for those lines of thick clouds encasing certain parts of the shore in a mist:
It was a wonderful walk – almost no people, waves, sky, sand and some flocks of pelicans…
This is a walk from the parking to the shore – with a little winding stream and lots of bird songs. There are very many hikes and trails in this park and one can spend a week there, easy, having different places to see each day…But we had no time, as usual. So we drove up notyj still on the same Rt 1 and at some points we dived into the mist:
Then again out of it:
And even saw a colony of seals or sea lions taking a nap:
That same day the fun was basically over, for we drove inland from Jenner through Calistoga (a very cute hot spring town) and the rest of Napa valley, seeing the wineries only from our car, there was no time to stop…Till we reached Lodi for sleep.
November 7, 2011
As I am writing this blog already in autumn – two giant 1000 year old sequoias fell down literally on a trail in Giant Forest – the popular hiking part of Sequoia N.P. Just fell down in all their 100 m (App 300 feet) length for no particular reason…A ranger was saying – maybe the soil got too wet?.. Well, it wasn’t wet enough for such a fall for 1000 years. Interesting. Must be trees like people have their fates.
So as I mentioned in my previous blog – we slept a night at the foothills and again drove all the way up to the Western Sierras to Kings Canyon which is connected to Sequoia NP. For a long time I was curious to see it for Europeans used to mention it as a very spectacular hidden secret off the beaten path. It was not disappointing at all:
But first of all we walked around some giant sequoias in General Grant Grove close to Kings canyon Visitor Center:
And I thought that I am tall…:-)
Yes, sequoias usually die by falling down because their root system is very shallow, and because their red wood is so resistant to elements – they lie their for everyone’s curiosity and enjoyment:
The trunk of this particular sequoia at different times was used as a shelter, as a bar and a souvenir shop. Right now it is just an empty hollow trunk to pass through:
This following view is taken from Convict’s flat – convicts used to do lots of the works in the canyon while the road was being built:
The water in Kings river enchanted me – so fast, so clean, green and transparant:
Andrei even cooled his feet:
THere were enough waterfalls. This particular one is called Grizzly Falls:
Then we drove to the very end where the road ends and the river is even more amazing -the waters are calmer and deep and green with some signs of its not so calm character:
This picture is my favorite of Kings canyon…From there on – lots of long trails start and lots of backpackers are off to meet their adventures and be more intimate with nature. Not us. We visited Boyden Cave on the way back, which is by that same Kings Canyon scenic byway:
For our guide there most of the formations looked like food – hamburgers, bacon, chicken leg. But this particular one as if looked like a Christmas tree or a wedding cake.
With our eyes full with beauty – we called it a day/ Still had to drive around 2 hours till we reached Fresno, the orchard capital of CA, for a night. Fresno has too many motels- hotels, not enough travelers to fill them. So to find a place to stay – no problem.
October 28, 2011
Mid July this summer we at last visited the Giant Trees. Sequoia Park and Kings Canyon are both connected, they are on the same entrance ticket, but you can’t see both of them in one day. So we had to land from the heights of the Sequoia Park at the end of the first day and go back up the next day to see Kings Canyon. The point is that it is hard to find a place to sleep in between them . As I noticed visitors mostly camp there. There are several lodges inside the parks, but to pay $350 for a night is not in our practice. And when you land from the Sierras there – there are maybe 2-3 motels on the way, not good at all, therefore they have vacancies. And then nothing, a long stretch of driving with orchards, with towns who serve the orchards – and no motels hotels, very strange…the closest city came out to be Fresno, though with the help of people from supermarket we managed to find a Best Western somewhere in between those orchard – little town jungles. So this is my introduction to the Giant Tree impressions…Some facts impress more than others…:-)
But here is everything from the beginning. We drove through Las Vegas, then towards Bakersfield. California’s attention to renewable energy sources impresses:
After a night in Bakersfield we headed towards Sierra Nevada foothills from the West side and started rising towards Sequoias on Rt.198 :
The mountains are in haze and they say that partially it is because of the smog that is brought by winds from San JoaquinValley and partially from the humidity in the air in summer. they sau to see clear views you have to come in early spring. The road up the mountains is narrow and winding which you can expect. The views are beautiful Part of the road was being fixed, so we had to wait and meanwhile we thought that we already reached the Giant Tree grove:
But we haven’t. Those trees were something else, not sequoias yet. Sequoias grow very high – between 5000-7000 feet elevation, which is 1500-2100m in human language. They don’t grow grow on sea level as their cousins Redwoods, as well as they have other differences with redwoods, which i didn’t know before going to the park. Redwoods are a little taller, their trunks are not so massive and they die by 1200 years younger. Whereas sequoias are much more massive, they reach 100 m in height (311 ft) and 14m in diameter (40 ft) and they live up to 3200 years old! That is something…
They outlive many forest fires because of the structure of their bark - it is thick and feels like tissue paper, soft and airy, and though fires sometimes burn holes in them – the heat still doesn’t get the deeper layers. Their wood and bark have some chemicals that make them resistant to fungi and bacteria. Luckily.
And when you think – there are some 75 groves left in all… and all of them are on the West slope of Sierras, where the moisture comes from far away ocean to humidify its branches and the streams of the mountains feed them with water of which they need a lot.
From the Giant Forest Museum we took a shuttle to Moro Rock. Again there was a confusion. The next stop was Crescent Meadow and we planned to see the views from there and return to Moro Rock and climb it/ No way. the shuttle takes you to the Rock, then to meadows and back to the museum…So we did two rounds until we managed to climb the Rock, but on the way we saw this creature:
I felt good we were in the bus not on our feet – because mama bear could be close by.
Moro Rock was impressive, reminded me of Angel’s Landing in Zion NP, only more comfortable steps for climbing it. So the same as on Angel’s Landing I was scared to death to reach the top :
Thanks God Andrei reached the top and could enjoy the views of Sierra Nevada mountains:
Next stop was at Big Trees trail – sequoias grow usually around a little pond formed in a hollow of a big stone by some streams. they need water. Those ponds usually are not ponds any more, but a swamp or wet meadow. And therefore sequoia groves look like a circle:
The main cause of sequoias deaths is toppling. They have shallow root system and strong winds can uproot them:
The insides of the fallen trees are attractive:
Some more images of the Giant Trees. the biggest of them is General Sherman tree, but we saw it only from far away – too many people were crowding around it.
So much for this park, it took us a while to find a place to sleep that night as I have mentioned. Next Blog will be about Kings canyon.
April 16, 2010
I have to make a break in Thailand blogs and describe the events here and now, in Utah. it was almost a historical event – at last we managed to find the right day, the right weather and only light winds and go to Brian Head – to ski. The first and last time in two years. The fact is that either we have to wait for guests when the weather forecast for the ski resort is good, so we can’t go, or the weather is really bad, which happened there most often. I can’t imagine how they make money, so many bad days they even have to close the lifts, the winds there are usually unbearably high. So here we managed at last to get there on April 14th! Almost no cars…they extended their operation for a week because of the amount of snow we all got in this spring. And the student holidays are now over – maybe that was the reason there were almost no people. Rather strange but I should say -comfortable. Like the mountain belongs only to you and all those guys on both ends of the chair lift are here to help only you:
Andrei couldn’t ski, his knee is still not very strong after he twisted it in Thailand, but he took me there and took also his PC so that he would not waste his time, in a cafeteria in this building:
And I also tried not to waste my time, up and down almost non stop. I land from the mountain and just “swish” into the chair again, getting the rest while going up.
To tell the truth it was funny after two years break to get on skis. I felt as if preparing to go into cosmos. Digging out my ski suit, putting on those heavy boots, gloves, cap glasses – here we are almost in summer clothes and over there it is still winter:
One can see how desolate the slopes are – but how nice! The trails are well prepared with that special car, some of them had still their virginity. So comfortable, I never remember such a good skiing there…
The temperature was around 12C and in the sun some parts of snow were a little wet, but didn’t cause problems because there are still frosts at nights over there. And here is the view from the top of the lift – and of that mountain:
You can’t put a price on it!..
And here is the view from Toquerville -the town that we have to pass on our way from Rockville to Rt. 15, toBrian Head:
And yesterday, which was April 15th, we went on a trail from the town Virgin. It took us 8 years of living here to figure out such a nice trail only 10 min drive from home…
We crossed the river on a bridge there and walked along the rather steep and high edge that Virgin river has created during many years:
And there are also inlets with scarce water, some slim waterfalls, but you can’t cross them, too steep, just follow the mountain bike road:
Then we drove to the La Verkin overlook – it has even a sign on highway but we never had a chance to drive those couple of miles and see for ourselves how amazing the view is:
You don’t need to hike up or down – you are here on top of a mountain -where can you find such a comfort?
To the right is Toquerville, to the left – Hurricane and St. George.
And here is our pear tree two weeks ago:
and the peach blossoms…