Saturday, October 23, 2021

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area ("Mount Charleston"), Nevada, October 1, 2021

Two posts back, I put up a shot from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. After a short afternoon of hiking (still to be blogged), I set up at the Pine Creek trailhead parking area, and took some shots of the Milky Way above the escarpment. I had to take a Thursday off from work to get here in time for that shot. But that meant I was in Las Vegas all day Friday. Well, that means hiking during a workday, which means going to places that are otherwise going to be a mess on the weekend.
I decided the place that probably best fit the bill in early October would be "Mount Charleston," the name the locals use collectively to refer to the high altitude portions of what is officially the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Two principle roads head up into these mountains: Kyle Canyon Road (NV-157), and Lee Canyon Road (NV-156). NV-158 links the two roads in the mountains.

You may recall that I hiked up this area, last year. That was my first time up here in about seven years, long enough that, the previous time up, the freeway ended before Lee Canyon. This time up, I observed several traffic circles that must have been there last year, but which I didn't recall. One of the traffic circles was at a huge visitor center, which also wasn't there 7 years previously.
I took advantage of the huge visitor center to use the restroom (of course!), and ask the rangers there about good leaf viewing locations. She suggested the Bristlecone Loop as the one best trail to take, but also noted the area around the Echo Trailhead. So, I decided I'd start with the Bristlecone Loop, which I had hiked previously.

By the way, my photos are posted in reverse chronological order, so the first photos are from the end of the day, while the first shots are down at the bottom.

This trail is over at the top of the Lee Canyon Road, so I made my way over, and parked just above the resort entrance. Lots of parking, both before and after the resort entrance, though I'm sure it all fills up on busy summer and fall weekends.

Aspen leaves were nice, from around the ski area and on up. Probably one of the better immersions into aspen leaves was in that first mile or so.

The trail then climbs out of the aspen, runs by a mix of bristlecone pine, both living and dead. Bit more climbing, then the trail turns on to a broad decommissioned road for the return leg. Nice views back across the canyon, with ribbons of color along ravine bottoms.
Some aspen, again, near the end of the trail. Then I had to walk from the lower trailhead parking lot, back up the highway, to where my car was parked. Kind of funny, that I walked right by it, because I thought I had parked further up than I had. Thought my car had been stolen for a few minutes.
Once back at the car, I drove back over to Kyle Canyon, then up canyon, a bit, to the Echo Trail trailhead. The large yellow trees (aspen or cottonwood, not sure which) were at that trailhead.
This trail heads southeast, parallel but above NV-157. It passed several additional access points. It also passed a trail labeled as "Little Falls." Apparently, several ways of getting there, too, as I passed one or two more opportunities to get there.
Eventually wound up on the Cathedral Rock trail. I didn't expect to see any more aspen this way, but figured I'd keep walking to see where it went. Looks like it passed several seasonal falls along the way.
Patchy aspen, mixed with conifers. Several narrow walks among the smaller aspen.
The rocky crags are really impressive in these mountains.
Nice view from the top. It kind of sneaks up on you. BTW, not far from the top, there's a trail split. There was a sign post at the junction, but no sign. I checked my Alltrails app. The left would have taken me to Little Falls, again. I stayed right.
Probably only about ten minutes from there to the top. There was a picnic table, there. Several chipmunks, too. I broke down and fed a few of them a few unsalted nuts from my trailmix.
You could look down Kyle Canyon (towards the valley floor), across Kyle Canyon (to another one of those impressive crags, with homes, below), or up-canyon.
Easy walk back down to my car. So one moderate hike, and one short hike. Nice hikes. Nice leaves. Good fall day.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Bishop Canyon, October 2021

These are from October 10 and 11, Indidgenous Peoples Day weekend, 2021.

I had hiked up here in July (still need to blog!), and saw a few places that seemed like they might have some nice aspen color, come the fall. So I spent a few October days in Bishop, exploring Bishop Canyon, again.

This was a childhood stomping grounds of mine, with many fishing trips/camping trips along Bishop Creek. But those were all in the summer. First fall trip up here, I think.

The first few shots in this post were from around North Lake. Over the summer, I hiked from North Lake to Upper Lamarck Lake. Noticed the aspen-covered road leading to North Lake, and some aspen at the start of the trail. In mid-October, those leaves along the road were wonderful. Also, they were apparently well-known, as there were LOTS of cars and people walking the area when I arrived, late on a Sunday afternoon.

One interesting thing I observed was how different the coloration looks when I was viewing them backlit, as I hiked west, versus after the sun had set and I was seeing them in the twilight shade, hiking back. The other thing was that most of the leaf peepers were gone by the time I got back. That's why my car looks like it's just sitting in the middle of the road, rather than in a parking pocket, with about a half-dozen cars between it and where I took that second picture.

I hiked just a little bit up towards Lamarck Lake, saw bare branches rather than colorful foliage, then came back down and hiked maybe a mile towards Piute Pass, before turning back through the campground and back to my car. About 3.75 miles, total. Best coloration was on that original road segment, although I could see a wall of greenish leaves behind the tree tunnel that might continue coloring for another week or two. By contrast, the trees on the east and north side of North Lake were already barren, as were the ones just a little higher (and more exposed).
The next morning, I headed up to Lake Sabrina. Saw some coloration on the far shoreline, and intended to try to get there. Didn't make it, though.

I followed the trail on the south side of the lake, then, when I noted it climbing away from the lake, I left the trail, and cross-countried down to towards the shore. Thought I might be able to make it around that way. Not sure if I could have, as I got distracted by some color at the first inflow. That's the cascades, and the ice at the base of a pool below the cascades. While I was shooting a ridiculous number of shots here, the clouds suddenly dropped on me and graupel started falling. I was worried about the road icing up and maybe getting stuck up here, so turned around and headed back to the car.

Hadn't gone far before the clouds either rose or dropped, and the graupel slowed. By the time I got back near the dam, the sun poked out, on occasion, and many hikers were starting their hike out. Still, wasn't feeling like trying to repeat my trip, since I figured there was a good chance the clouds and icy precipitation would return.
Did get a nice, moderate-zoom shot across the lake, though.

After I got back to the car, I used the vault toilet (part of why I started the hike at a known destination!), then drove down, just a few hundred yards. I had passed a nice pond, with some good color on the banks. Unfortunately, stupid millennials also found the spot, and got there just ahead of me.

I don't begrude folks wanting to get a good shot (obviously), but I do dislike people who feel the need to insert themselves into the scene. Because that means, instead of just standing nearby, where we can both get our shots, one of them needs to walk out into the middle of the shot and sit down on a rock or a log, and strike a faux-thoughtful pose. Then they need to take picture after picture, to get just the correct fake moment and pose. Then they'll switch places, and repeat the process. Many minutes where no one else can get their shot without a poser in the way. Grumble.

Now, mind you, it's not even that I necessarily want a people-less photo of my own, if that's also going to be a misrepresentation of what's actually there. In fact, I sometimes like having people in my photos, since they give a scale to what you're seeing. It's just that I don't like it when their attempt at a fake moment completely dominates the scene, and now they're the "star," instead of the trees or the mountains. It's also the fakeness of the moment, like, instead of actually getting away and enjoying the wilderness and the seasons, it's more important to get the picture of them pretending to be doing that.

So I wasted about 10-15 minutes of my life, before I was finally able to snap my photos, and move on.

"On" was back down Bishop Canyon. On my drive up that morning (and the previous night, on the way to North Lake)I saw there was some good aspen color just before where the road to North Lake splits off. So I drove back down, parked, looked over the canyon, and tried to figure out how to get to where the trees were.

It looked like a broad and easy dirt road came up from down canyon, and that would be an easy walk for me. So I drove down to Cardinal Road, turned left, then headed up the paved road to where it ended, at Cardinal Resort. Parked outside of their lot, then walked past the resort, among the many cabins they have, and into the woods.

Many trails headed up stream, some crossing the creek, and some staying on the south side. After a brief chat with a couple and their dog, which were coming down canyon, I elected to cross over a log crossing, to the north side of the creek. Following various use trails, and eventually came across a large mining remains, which was where I saw what looked like a broad road when I was back on the highway. Unfortunately, passage further up canyon did not look easy, so I turned around, there. But before heading back to my car, I headed north and east, towards a large cascade I had seen, which ran down from North Lake, and towards the main canyon.

Made my way as far as safe, snapped some photos there, then returned to Cardinal Resort, and my car.

Took many leaf pictures from my various vantage points, between Cardinal Resort, the mining area, and the trail-less route to the cascade. Those are the photos after my pond shots, from below Lake Sabrina.

Not sure how far I walked on that day, but I hit my step target (16,000 steps) before I got back. I would estimate over 3 miles to go halfway around Sabrina and back, and a similar distance (more climbing) from Cardinal Resort and vicinity.

Crossed paths with very few hikers, once I got away from Cardinal Resort. Lots of footprints, so I know people hike here, though.

Took some more shots from near my car, on the narrow paved road near Cardinal Resort, then started driving back down, to Bishop. As I descended, the thermometer on my car showed about 30 degrees, plus some clouds, and the occasional graupel. Coming down, the temperature stayed pretty consistent for a few thousand feet. When I passed into the cloud deck, visibility shrunk, and it got borderline spooky. But then further descent brought me below the clouds. The closer I got to town, the brighter it got. In town, while it was overcast, it wasn't dark, and no precipitation was falling. If I were down there, I would have thought it was fine hiking weather.

And, in fact, it was fine hiking weather, although it was always threatening to get worse. I wore my thick down jacket, however, and was more than comfortable. The graupel was definitely preferable to sleet or freezing rain.

All in all, a good couple of days in the eastern Sierra, with a couple of short hikes and lots of aspen leaves. Didn't hike as much as normal, since my wife joined me on this trip and we spent some time socializing with one of her college friends. But enough hiking and enough aspen to feel like it was a fall foliage trip. May try for one or two more foliage hikes before we completely move to winter, but a nice end to "summer," nonetheless.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Red Rock Canyon NCA, NV -- Sept 30

Quick post, since I am so far behind and want to at least get one update done. This was the evening of Sept 30. Until the end of September, the scenic loop is open until 8pm, allowing one to shoot under a quasi-dark sky. This was through a light pollution filter, and some amount of Lightroom processing, to darken the sky. Otherwise, even at 15 seconds and ISO 1600, f/1.8, everything is completely overexposed. I like the way it came out, and it's not too unreasonable a depiction of what you can see (minus the color, of course). Hopefully, more posts, to follow.