Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Warren Bench

Warren Bench track link

We wanted to explore Warren Bench as we have seen the edge of it for years as we drive to and from Bishop.  We could see the road leading up from the valley floor, and it was interesting and intriguing.  So, we created a route.  This is another of those hikes based on connecting roads and trails on our USGS maps.  The roads were where the map indicated, or mostly so, the trail, not so much.

The jeep road leading up onto the bench would certainly be a test of your jeep driving skills as it was a test of our ability to keep going up without sliding back into the valley.  Steep, steep, steep. 

Even the jeeps have trouble going up this

Warren Bench was lovely.  Unfortunately, the flat easy walking only lasted about ten minutes, and then it was up again.

Death Camas

Crater Peak
From the Warren Bench, it was more up, up, up, past Big Pine Spring to where the trail would connect us with Shannon Canyon.  Only, there was no trail.  Or to be more accurate it wasn’t where the map indicated it should be.  We ran into it several miles away and it seems to hug the south edge of the South Fork of Shannon Canyon, rather than going up and down through several steep canyons as the map shows.  Maybe one day we will follow it from the bottom and see if it does connect to anything, or if it is another death march to nowhere.

Bob walking along "the trail"

We did really enjoy the Alabama Hills look of the upper part of our hike and will be trying to create a route to explore more of this area, later, after the memory of the steepness of the hike wears off. 

Upper Shannon Canyon
The White Mountains

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

North Fork Kern River

Kern River track link

We were out again with the local hiking group, this time for a tour of the North Fork Kern River from the Johnsondale Bridge upriver. With the exceptional runoff in the rivers right now it was questionable if this hike would go as the trail is low in the canyon and subject to flooding in high water. But the water level dropped due to cooler weather a few days before our hike and we were good to go. 

The water in the river was ripping down canyon and scary enough as is. Imagining how much larger this flow will likely get during peak runoff in a few weeks in downright terrifying. 

There were a few other interesting sights along the way including a waterfall and small columnar basalt outcropping similar to Devil's Postpile far up on the canyon wall.

Brian points to the columnar basalt formation

The basalt column.  I needed a longer lens for this one...

The waterfall from Dry Meadow Creek entering the main river

This wasn't a particularly flower filled area but we did see a few nice ones along the way. 

Seep Monkeyflower


Manzanita flowers


Yellow Violets

The hiking on this stretch of the river isn't difficult - mostly level terrain with some rocky footing in spots. Our weather was perfect and the company was great. Another successful outing! 

Johnsondale Bridge
Bob by the river. Photo by Brian Veit

A natural cave along the route
Big Oak

Big river

Most of the group (a few ran off right after lunch). Photo by Brian Veit
And the entire group at the bridge. Photo by Paul Decker

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon Track Link

This Marble Canyon is in Inyo County in the Inyo Mountains.  Yes, it is an overused name, like Cottonwood Canyon.  But usually when something is called Marble Canyon it is pretty, and when there is an area labeled “the Narrows” it is interesting.  What more could we need to draw us there for a day of exploration.

It turns out that the area is rich in mining artifacts as well.


The little pinprick of light is the flashlight on Bob's cellphone
Lived again.

We had asked friends if it was possible to get through these narrows and we received conflicting responses.  It turns out it is possible to get through and connect with a jeep road.  Now that we know this, we can plan some car shuttle trips that will allow us to see more of the country.

And yes, it is pretty and interesting so we are willing to go back if any of our friends would like to do a car shuttle and explore the area further.