Saturday, December 30, 2017

Scattered Bones Peak

Hike track link
ebird list

Back in April we managed to reach the high point of the north end  Haiwee Ridge which is locally called Jurassic Peak.  See blog post here for the Jurassic Peak hike.  It was a flower filled day, but with all our false starts we didn't have time to get to Scattered Bones. 

We finally decided the time had come to try Scattered Bones Peak, the high point on the south end of Haiwee Ridge.  It is a cool name and there are actually bones scattered around on the peak.  Coincidence?  Who knows.

This time we decided to approach it from the west side to avoid the long drive around to Cactus Flat, the normal approach for hiking this ridge.  This took a bit of time trying to figure out what is public land vs. private LADWP land, but eventually we were headed up a ridge to the southwest that looked like it might lead to the peak.  And it did.  Via a series of gullies and ridges we finally reached the summit.  

The ridge leading to Scattered Bones Peak

Scattered Bones with Jurassic in the background

A 'scattered bone'

The view east

The view west including Haiwee Reservoir and Olancha Peak

The view south

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Lightner Peak

Hike track link

Paul organized another Any Day Hiker adventure with many options.  We choose the option where we were dropped off along old state road out of Lake Isabella, climbed 4000' up Lightner Peak trail, summited the peak, and then walked down a mile and a half and only 500' down to where the cars were parked.  Yes, Paul and BJ drove another hour and a half after they dropped us off to create a shorter option to summit Lightner Peak saving us the quad busting downhill.  Nice, very nice.

Photo courtesy of Paul Decker

Photo courtesy of Paul Decker

AD Hikers did this hike up and back from old state in May, during an unexpected heat wave.  They said it was brutal with highs in the 90s.  We had high temperatures in 60s.  It was a workout granted, with the 4000' climb, but a very pleasant one.

Mountain Manzanita trunks

Much to our disappointment, when you get to Lightner Peak, you are in trees and lose all your views.  Good thing we stopped to catch our breath on the way up and look down at Isabella.  It was a nice view, if somewhat marred by the smoke from the southern California fires.

The view on the summit of Lightner.  Photo courtesy of Paul Decker

Lake Isabella

We were in chaparral most of the day, and had the expected species, including wrentit, which somehow was a new year bird for me in Kern.  The trees near the top were interesting and included mature Piute Cypress, which is a range restricted plant occurring mainly in this area in Kern County.

Piute Cypress

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Leap of Faith

Hike track link

Faith, well it is approaching Christmas so this sounds like an appropriate theme.

Today's hike had us heading to Lamont Point.  I choose it as it is somewhere we had never been, not too long a drive in holiday traffic, and only a short scramble off trail.  I convinced Bob it was the hike for us.  Then I read that to reach the summit block you have to leap across a 3' gap and the consequences of missing the landing are bad, very bad.  I was now having second thoughts, not being a big fan of heights and of falling off.

The first four and a half miles or so are on the PCT heading south out of Chimney Peak campground, so a nice trail with a good grade.  Then we picked a logical place to leave the trail and headed up using bear and deer trails to avoid the worst of the rocks and scrub oaks.  Just a final scramble up to the summit block to have a look at this leap.  We looked and we decided not to attempt it.  Faith is all well and good, but without the good works involved in the leap, it is nothing.  Age does have its advantages and for us today that was wisdom.

We wish you happy holidays and a wonderful new year.

Sawtooth Peak

Colorful lichen

Almost there

The leap of faith point and a partial view of where you end up on the left if you miss
Even the USGS agreed that this was close enough

A juniper with berries

Lamont Point

Friday, December 22, 2017

High County Sierra

December brings to mind a winter wonderland -- snow, cold, Santa Claus, that sorta thing.  Not this year in the southern Sierra so far.  Our snow has been minimal below 10,000'.  This has allowed us to hike to places that we wouldn't have the legs to snowshoe to.

We have been to Grass Lake, Blue Lake, the Second Big Pine Lake, and the Bishop Bowl.  None of them required snowshoes.  Sad.  Even sadder we could have made it to Second Lake in trail runners.  At Second Lake we even had time to explore the tunnel put in by farmers back in 1895 to enhance autumn water flow into the valley and the dam DWP started to put in back in the 1920's.  The dam attracted too much negative press and DWP stopped work in the Sierra and created their hydropower operation in Owen's Gorge, which is one reason we have Crowley Lake today. 

In addition to a lack of snow, it has also been warm, we are talking 70 degree temperatures in the valley.  The heat is affecting us in the mountains.  Sabrina Lake had not iced over and had a Common Loon on it.

These are beautiful locations, made more so, with the addition of snow higher up.  Enjoy.

Grass Lake

Ice in Lamarck Creek below Grass Lake

Blue Lake

Lake Sabrina

The streams crossings are a bit icy

Looking back at Sabrina

Bob checks the ice thickness on Blue Lake

Second Lake

Partially frozen North Fork Big Pine Creek

Second Lake and Temple Crag

Something to do with the irrigation or dam work, or just get hikers to other camp sites?

Rock work and earth fill from abandoned dam
Historic irrigation tunnel

First Lake

My snack break view at Lon Chaney's cabin

Bishop Bowl
Mt Humphreys

Basin and Mt Tom