Friday, March 23, 2012

Mt. Baldy & West Baldy

March 21, 2012: To celebrate the first day of spring I took a trip up to Mt. Baldy. I climbed this peak back in January with no snow. As luck would have it, the local mountains received three to four feet of the white stuff the weekend prior. This would be the first snow hike of the season up Mt. Baldy.

I got a rather late start up the Manker Flat trailhead at 0800. I was being cautious about black ice on the road so starting a tad later was indeed helpful. I started off in one layer and that would be all I needed until the summit ridge. It was a rather balmy fifty degrees when I started. Luckily, the snow was firm and travel was easy. I wore microspikes all the way to 9200'. At this point the postholing began in earnest. I had lugged my snowshoes all the way up and that was about to pay off. I made it enjoyably to the summit of Baldy around noon. The warm day was halted by a brisk thirty plus mile per hour wind. It made the summit an uncomfortable place to eat lunch.

I retreated off the summit and headed towards West Baldy a half mile away. The winds diminished on the ridge between the two peaks and I was able to have some lunch behind a tree. The walk over to West Baldy was nice and easy. The photos of wind sculpted snow and ice were great, made the walk over worthwhile. From West Baldy, I made a direct line to the top of the Baldy Bowl and followed that ridge back to the Ski Hut and down to my truck. It was a great day in the mountains.

Baldy Bowl

Looking Down Towards Upland

Plane Crash Debris

Summit Of Baldy

Snowy Southern Sierra's

West Baldy From Mt. Baldy

Close Up View Of West Baldy

Mt. Baden Powell

Wind Sculptures

Staying Warm In The Fierce Wind

Mt. Baldy From West Baldy

Top Of Western Bowl Chutes

Baldy Bowl

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hines Peak & The Topa Topa Bluffs

March 16, 2012: Hines Peak & The Topa Topa Bluffs, 22.4 Miles, +6200' of elevation gain. The plan was to get up to the Sierra's to some snowshoeing, but there was a potent winter storm that ended up dropping three to five feet of snow in the upper elevations. That same storm would drop a couple of feet on the local mountains as well. So, my window was to get a local hike in on Friday in advance of the storm. I wanted to get some miles and elevation gain in, so off to the Sespe Wilderness I went.
The trailhead is only forty five minutes from my house opposed to the two hour drive to the Gorgonio wilderness, so this really felt local. Hines Peak is 6,716' and my trailhead today is at 1,750'. I started at 8:30 am in a cool overcast canyon. Nothing to see for the first five miles but fog. The fog lifted at 4,500' and the views were pleasant. I have done this hike before so nothing out of the ordinary was expected or encountered. I made it to the summit of Hines Peak in four hours and enjoyed some Pop Tarts for lunch. The valleys below were shrouded in fog still. The views of the Topa Topa ridge to the east were impressive as was the view north to the Sespe River drainage.
I backtracked from the summit of Hines Peak and made my way back to the Topa Topa Bluffs. It is an easy walk up with great views of the swirling fog. Normally you get a grand view of the Ventura County plains and the Channel Islands, but not today, the fog wasn't having it. I made my way back to my truck and arrived at 4:30 for a nice eight hour jaunt in the Sespe Wilderness.
GPX Track

Hines Peak Summit Ridge

Looking East From Hines Peak Summit

Hines Peak From Below Topa Topa Bluffs

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dewey Point, Yosemite Valley & The Mariposa Grove

Judy and I had been planning a Yosemite winter trip for a long time and finally we were able to take it..........

Friday March 2nd: We packed up our belongings and hit the road to Oakhurst in the late morning. The drive up was great, little to no traffic and lots of road snacks (candy, yogurt, sunflower seeds, soda's, fruit, Sushi :o ). We made a pit stop at the Fresno REI to pick up an insulated mug for our snowshoeing coffee :). We checked into the Days Inn Oakhurst, then had a nice dinner at the Crab Cakes restaurant in town. Lobster, Calimari Steak and Carrot Cake. Good travel day, time to get rested up for tomorrow........

Saturday March 3rd: After a good nights rest, we were up and at em at 0600. We didn't leave the room until 0730 though, it was cold outside which slowed our progress. An overnight low of 28 degrees iced up everything outside and warming the truck up took a few minutes. The plan was to grab some breakfast at Subway then head up to Badger Pass inside Yosemite National Park. Problem was, Subway forgot to open on time, so plan B was Carls Jr. chicken sandwiches. Yosemite had received a foot and a half of new snow the past few days and chain restrictions were in place from Highway 41 to Badger Pass. We had the chains with us and even practiced putting them on before leaving. Once on the road, we found chains were not needed. We carefully worked our way to the Ski resort and arrived safe and sound at 0845.

We took out our backpacks and packed up all the essential winter gear, but the weather was turning very late spring like, warm and pleasant. The weather would turn out to be great the next two days. We strapped on our snowshoes and headed down the recently groomed Glacier Point Rd. to the Dewey Point Meadows turn off. We took our time the first mile. Judy had never been on snowshoes before so getting the timing and wider stance took some practice, but she got it down quick. She actually enjoyed the softer off trail snow to the groomed packed snow. There was a nice path through the snow, no navigation required today. We made good time through the meadows in good snow conditions. About two to three feet of nicely packed down powder.

Start Of The Snowshoe

Having Fun

Beautiful Conditions

We made it to Dewey Point at high noon and what a view. A visual treat. The vista's in all directions were outstanding. Particularly to the north and east. El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Ribbon Falls, North Dome, Tenaya Canyon, Clouds Rest, The Top Of Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, Cathedral Peak, Unicorn Peak, Mt. Clark and the Clark Range. What a site. We ate our snacks and enjoyed our hot coffee. The REI mug really worked, five hours after pouring the coffee, we were sitting at the edge of a cliff enjoying a hot cup of joe. Good times indeed. After taking our Yosemite Portrait Photographs, we made our way back the way we came. We both had a great time. Judy was feeling so good she decided to fall/leap into the snow for fun :) We made it back to Badger Pass in time to have a chicken sandwich and some fries.

El Capitan From Dewey Point

Judy and I w/ Half Dome & Clouds Rest Behind

Half Dome & Clouds Rest

Cold Leap Of Faith

The next stage of our journey took us down to Yosemite Valley for some late afternoon and sunset photographs. We stopped off at Tunnel View, Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls, The General Store and the meadow next to Curry Village for Half Dome sunset photos. The weather was great and there were hardly any people in the valley. We were very pleasantly surprised, felt like we had the park to ourselves...well, mostly :)

Tunnel View

Zoomed In Tunnel View

Bridalveil Fall w/ Rainbow

Bridalveil Falls Straight On View

Bridalveil Falls Again :)

Half Dome

North Dome

Black & White Half Dome

Sunset Glow

After photographing and witnessing a beautiful sunset, we made the long drive back to Oakhurst. The drive actually went by fast, good company. We had ourselves a nice Turkey dinner, ate some Ice Cream and hit the sack. We would sleep well tonight. Today was a good day :)

Sunday March 4th: After a great night of rest we were ready to enjoy some more scenery and hiking in Yosemite. We packed up our belongings, checked out of our room and actually got breakfast at Subway. Apparently they open around seven, not at seven which is why we missed then yesterday. Today's plan was to head up to the Mariposa Grove just inside the park boundary. We have been to the Giant Sequoia groves of Sequoia National Park, but not to any of Yosemite's. We got to a mostly empty parking lot at 0930. Ah, got to love the winter, this same scene in the summer would be overwhelmingly crowded.

We set off to see "The Grizzly Giant", "Tunnel Tree" and the Upper Grove. The Sequoia's are a thing of might and beauty. Photos don't do justice to how majestic they truly are; The largest trees in the world. The Grizzly Giant is the fifth largest tree in the world. It was icy and a little snowy at the beginning of the trail, Judy wore micro spikes and I used poles for stability. It took us a few hours to hike a loop through the lower and upper groves, stopping to take photos and admire the scene all around us. In total we hiked 5.8 miles. When we arrived back at my truck, the parking lot looked alot like the summer, cars and people everywhere. The warm day brought the people up to the park in droves. We cleaned up and headed home at 1:00 pm. We made good time coming home, just missing a big rig turned over in Valencia and made it back at 6:00 pm. Overall a great weekend in the Sierra's. I really believe Judy will snowshoe with me again in the future, she liked it that much :) Gracias Mi Amor......

Giant Sequoia

View From Below