December 20, 2017

Highway 395 Eastern Sierra Wonderland

"Let me drink from the waters where the mountain streams flood. 
Let the smell of the wildflowers flow free through my blood. 
Let me sleep in your meadows with the green grassy leaves. 
Let me walk down the highway with my brother in peace. 
Let me die in my footsteps before I go down under the ground."
Bob Dylan
When you are a mountain man you understand the brilliance and beauty of contradiction. These granite peaks can be my greatest teachers. How can these magnificent pinnacles be so grounding, yet so elevating, intoxicating, yet so soothing, wild, yet serene, primal, yet patient during their shifts and rhythms? These mountains always keep me on edge, but also provides me a sensation of safety. How many times have I heard the wind call and know that somewhere within these mountains I have found my answers that I was looking for? The pull of the horizon overcomes the paralysis of reason...and you just have to go. I now have a partner who never wants to stop seeking new horizons.

A short rewind here, as we skipped a travel experience in lieu of the previous post. It was the evening we returned from this particular trip that Kiah decided to attempt her "Super Dog" stunt.
Bishop Creek
For a few months, we had tentatively planned to spend a couple weeks exploring one of our favorite routes, the Highway 395 corridor, immerse ourselves in the rugged scenery, be mesmerized by the brilliant fall colors and float a few flies down our favorite streams. I love landscapes that make me realize how small, yet significant, my life is in relation to the vastness of nature. Raw...with no filters.

On this particular trip we decided to try an expedition without the toad, our Honda CRV, and see how comfortable a trip would be with only WeBeGon. Our rig is so small and easy to drive, handle, and park, that we felt it would be no hassle at all leaving our campground to do some exploring. We were right!
Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail
our perfect campsite perch
Our first stop was Lone Pine Campground. During previous camping trips among the Alabama Hills, we had driven through this campground a few times and loved the location and spectacular views. And now that we have such a short rig, we were able to park in almost any site. The Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail begins at the west end of the campground. Every morning and evening Imkelina was up on the trailhead admiring the spectacular sunrises and sunsets...while I watched over our campsite from the "perch"...which offered some pretty fair mountain views. The hike up to Whitney Portal would be a fun goal for a future trip!
beautiful Lake Sabrina
trout stream flowing through Bishop Park Campground
We next headed to one of our favorite areas in the John Muir Wilderness, the Sabrina Basin. We had no plans this trip to hike the trail up to a wonderland of gorgeous lakes, but we have many times in the past, and they are as stunning as they are beautiful. How can they not? Lake Sabrina, Blue Lake, Dingleberry and Midnight Lake sit amid glacial scoured basins, reflecting off their clear surface, a sea of jagged granite peaks that surround them. We stopped here to fish Bishop Creek.
I have been fishing Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek and Intake 2 for the  last 50 years, but each homecoming to these mountains brings the same amount of joy and excitement as it was the first time. This visit would be the first time to experiment with my new Tenkara fly rod. And a successful tryout it was, as I caught and released some beautiful pan size rainbows with this special rod. Tenkara is a traditional type of fishing practiced in Japan using only a rod, line and a fly (similar to using the long bamboo pole my dad gave me when I was a kid). Tenkara has been used for hundreds of years to fish for trout and char in small, high mountain streams. Tenkara was largely unknown outside Japan until 2009, when this style of fishing was introduced in the United States. My appeal of Tenkara is it's elegant simplicity, the lightness of the line, the need for delicate presentations and the precise control you have to manipulate your fly. My rod (now Imkelina's) is a beautiful piece of art and the entire fishing outfit will fit easily into our day pack. I also choose to use only the traditional Japanese made fly lines and flies. And for Imkelina, fly fishing this way appeals to the meditative feeling of quietly dropping into the stream.
And over the course of the last twenty years, Imkelina has embraced the Sierras...or their power and magnificence have slowly bewitched her to be one with them. She often tells me that her love of the ocean is due to the expansive energy she feels when she's by the sea. But the mountains bring her a feeling of limitless power as they reach for the sky. I'd say that she'd be quite content living between the two. One of her favorite treats is eating a piece of Patty's homemade pie on the deck of the Lake Sabrina Boat Landing and Cafe. We love the glittering views of the lake and how the imposing peaks reflect upon it's clear blue water. 
pull-through site at Sabrina Campground
Bishop Park Campground
early morning freeze
We camped at two campgrounds located right on the banks of Bishop Creek, Sabrina Campground and Bishop Park Campground.   Normally both these small campgrounds can be pretty popular due to their location and very hard to secure any site. But not this time of year. We had pretty cold evenings during our stay, with a couple of nights getting down to a brisk 17ยบ. And the location of our campsites, were optimal. Being so close to the creek, we had our choice of access points to some pretty nice water...and over most of our stay, our campsite were pretty isolated, offering privacy and some quiet evenings.
Only the mountains beckon me to walk deeper and deeper into their magical kingdoms of beauty, as I want to know, feel and become more. These peaks have alway been my cathedrals, it is where I practice my religion of existence. Over the years, I have chased angels among their pinnacles and fled my demons through their valleys. Today, as I share the mountains with Imkelina, I find only comfort, peace and nourishment. I yearn for them now...

At Waypoint 37.2072689 -118.6186

November 10, 2017

Temporarily Grounded...

Normally at this time of year we are planning, packing and surveying daily our travel checklist for our fall desert trip. The warmer climate beckons the fact that I don't want to put on a pair of pants yet. But this year, that all changed.
First, let us introduce you to the newest member of our pack...Kiah (pronounced Keey-ah). The word Kiah is an Aboriginal word meaning "beautiful place". We rescued her from Woods Humane Society, an awesome no-kill shelter in our county. We found out later, that they had rescued Kiah from the Animal Shelter in the hot and barren town of Avenal. She was a runaway with no tags or an embedded chip and had been kenneled for over two months before she embraced our arms. 
Kiah at Woods Humane Society...eyes say it all...please adopt me
Kiah returns to Woods Humane Society as a student
We love Australian Cattle Dogs, so we when we decided to rescue another pup we were seeking either Blue Heelers or a Heeler/Mix. We saw of her availability the first evening it was advertised. Imkelina drove down to Woods the next morning, spent some time with her and immediately fell in love with the 2 year old. But our adoption was held up as another family had put a hold on her and was coming in later in the day to claim her. All Imkelina could do was commit to being the "backup" if they chose not to adopt. She came home crushed, but optimistic that this puppy was meant to be part of our pack. Well long story short, destiny prevailed...the other family baled on the adoption and we celebrated for Kiah was ours!!! 
The look of joy on her face the first time her toes touched the beach was priceless!
One of her favorite beaches...San Simeon Cove
She has to personally choose which ball to fetch
Over the last 5 months, Kiah slowly adapted to a new home offering a property full of trees, cooler weather, indoor living, multiple choices of comfy beds, wonderful food and daily outings on our local trails, dog parks and beaches. 
Volcanic Tablelands
She loves staring beyond the horizon
As mighty as a Henry Woods State Park
She really does know how to relax...sometimes
Plus all the new adventures and wonders she gets to experience via our motorhome getaways. Kiah is our pack's new baby...loved and spoiled rotten, all deservedly so. 
One of our favorite benches at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
Every sunny day is a beach day!
On the bluffs at San Simeon
She tries to embrace Sydney as her new step-sister during all the time they spend time together day after day. But this relationship still needs more time to ferment as there are many times Kiah wants to be the Alpha Female in her pack and Sydney has not forgotten that she was once the only "child". So with that, the bonding process of our two girls has progressed at a snail's pace, although the other day we did catch Sydney licking Kiah's ear.
Now back to the story...
The same day we returned from our late summer fishing safari up in the Eastern Sierras, Kiah decided to go after a plump gray squirrel in a nearby oak tree. Unfortunately, that "mix" terrier blood was stronger than the common sense of a heeler and "forced" her to jump over a 4 foot high patio railing, onto the overhang 14 feet above un-level ground. Naturally the squirrel easily got away, as gravity aided it's escape. Kiah, unable to stop her momentum plummeted straight down upon a rock lined landscape stream bed and bounced upon the hard walkway pavers. We believe that the bark wood chips surrounding the stream bed softened her fall, preventing more extensive damage, but her front legs, which took the brunt of the fall, could not withstand the massive compression upon her wrists. Bones snapped and ligaments were torn. Surgery, metal plates, screws and dual leg casting has been required...and then up to 3 months of recuperation time to get this little girl back to critter chasing form.
A "you can't lick it" bonnet
Post surgery healing nap
But our Kiah is pretty damn fierce...a "rez" dog for sure. We are confident it will be only a short while before she once again enjoys the spacious queen rv bed and snags her preferred space in the cab of WeBeGone.
This legendary girl will see many more of those spots that her namesake inspires. She certainly has made our world a more beautiful place!

October 27, 2017

Cape Lookout State Park...the trail home.

"There's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline,
no matter how many times it's sent away"
Sarah Kay
Along with Dick and Melinda, we departed Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground, and headed southwest toward Tillamook, Oregon and Cape Lookout State Park. The park is nestled in a very lush coastal forest on a sand spit between Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean, offering terrific views of the ocean while at the same time easy access to it's beautiful beach.
This park proved to be a wonderful destination for sightseers, campers, hikers, beachcombers and of course "Lifedancers" who appreciate the harmonious blend of nature and recreation. 
Imkelina and her "girls" never grew tired of walking the miles of open beach. It seems her day is different at the beach as her passage doesn't move hour to hour. Her adventures are guided by the currents, planned around the tides and follow the rise and setting of the sun. Her day seems timeless...and they are as she never wears a watch. As I watch her stand before this beautiful beach, I can hear the waves whispering to her...continue to choose the simple things and find the joy in nature's simple and living need not be so hard.
There is also a short walking trail, The Nature Trail, through the campground which is pretty tame. The Cape Lookout Trail, a five mile round trip hike, is also located nearby. During World War II, a B-17 bomber was flying north along the Oregon coast on a transit run. On that day in 1943 Cape Lookout was shrouded with fog. The pilots mistook the cape for a cloudbank and flew straight into its 800-foot cliffs. There were no survivors. Although the trail passes just above the crash site, the wreckage is no longer visible.
Santa Maria Ribs and grilled veggies
We enjoyed our last day here, savoring weather that stimulated Weber time and a vivid sunset that provided an opening act to our campfire talks. Soon it would be time to head south and home to our "Central Coast Hidey Hole." Driving south along the coastal headlands, soaring sand dunes, massive rock formations, mile long beaches and old growth forests always leaves a lasting remembrance of this beloved state.

At Waypoint 45.366820, -123.962148