Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mt. Lola Hike

While the Sacramento Valley was broiling in 100+ degree temps, the Sac. County Hikers led by Rich Blackmarr headed up into the high Sierras to cooler temps and to bag the tallest peak in the Yuba River watershed, Mt. Lola topping out at 9,143 feet. Ha, it was only 90 degrees in the mountains.

Nine intrepid souls hot-footed up this moderately difficult climb which ascended 2,500' over 5 miles. Due to the heat, even at elevation, the 10 mile RT hike felt like it was 5 miles up and 10 miles down. The descent seemed like it would never end.

Joining Rich, were two Mikes, two Franks, Dorothy, Mary Anne, Heide, and myself. It was a terrific hike following Cold Stream Creek. The trail gradually climbed a narrow valley for 2+ miles passing a beautiful meadow with the last 3+ miles steeply ascending a ridge with grand views of surrounding canyons and high peaks.

Note: Click on pic for enlarged view

Mary Anne, Dot, and Mike taking a break above Cold Stream Creek

Heide crossing Cold Stream Creek

A couple miles up, we come upon a beautiful green meadow with a meandering stream

Above the meadow, the trail passes a field of wildflowers

Looking back at the meadow

Indian paintbrush and mules ears were in bloom

The first view of Castle Peak across a canyon

Mary Anne and Castle Peak

Above 8,000', Mt. Lola ridge line comes into view

Ol' Man and an ol' tree

Frank leading the way to the top

View of Independence Lake

A snow bank poses a minor obstacle. The summit lies beyond.

Another view of Castle Peak from a higher elevation

At the top!

Mt. Lola, the tallest peak in Nevada County, is named after Lola Montez (1818-1861), the legendary actress and dancer who entertained the gold-rush miners. Sierra peaks are often named after popular female entertainers of this period.

Dot and the summit sign . . .

. . . and hat's off to the summit

White Rock Lake lies below the summit

Taking in the grand views

OK, time for lunch

The obligatory group summit shot

Front - Heide, Frank and Dot
Back - Frank, Mike, Rich, Mary Anne, and me
Other Mike taking pic

Remnant snow-bank source of Cold Stream Creek

Heide and White Rock Lake between legs

Across the saddle is Mt. Lola North, at 8,844', the tallest peak in Sierra County. Bagging two tall peaks in one hike . . . hey! . . . not a bad day's work.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Looking at a range of "14's" from Mt. Evans

The primary goal of our trip to Colorado was to participate in the Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC) taking place in late June. Joining me on this 3 week odyssey were Herb Lee, Frank Gerace, Peter Saucerman, Dennis Engblom, Bob Tribe and Bob Anderson. Wonderful traveling companions who shared both the joy and the pain.

This road trip included more highlights and high points than completing the BTC which was a major accomplishment in its own right. This year's BTC was the longest, hardest tour of its' 15 year tradition.

Other highlights included a heady road bike ride up Mt. Evans on the highest paved road in North America and hikes in the Colorado National Monument and Great Basin National Park.

This blog includes 9 entries organized as follows:

1. Long Drive to Colorado on Hwy 50
2. Fruita
3. Cycling Colorado National Monument
4. Hiking Colorado National Monument
5. The BTC
6. Idaho Springs
7. Mt. Evans - The Mt. Everest for Cyclists
8. Great Basin National Park
9. Long Way Home

Note: To view enlargement of each photo, click on pic

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Long Drive to Colorado

We decided to take the scenic route across Nevada, Hwy 50, the "Loneliest Road in America".

First stop, Sand Mountain located east of Fallon, a 2-mile long mountain of white sand rising several hundred feet which has accumulated over the eons against a mountain range by prevailing south winds.

Nearby is the stone remains of a Pony Express Station.

Group shot at Sand Mountain - Frank, me, Herb and Bob A.

Frank and Herb in the big sand box

Checking out the remnants of the Pony Express Station which was discovered under all the sand, walls restored and stabilized

Herb in one of the rooms

We encountered storms all across Nevada. A wall of streaming virga viewed from a hill-top rest stop

Winds and wispy virga behind Herb and Frank keep temps cool


Fruita, Colorado - fertile land of fruits and dinosaurs !! was our first destination. We spent 3 nights at a KOA campground and set up household in a small cabin.

The BTC tour included a route through the Colorado National Monument on the 3rd day. In our strategic planning, we decided to ride the Monument before the tour which reduced the distance from 103 miles to 63 on the actual day of the tour. Great thinking since the temps were in the 90's with headwinds all the way between Grand Junction and Montrose.

We also had time to do a nifty 6 mile hike through the Monument after the ride.

Dinosaurs once ruled the region with bones found in the Fruita/Grand Junction area. A major Dinosaur Museum is located in Fruita.

Our cozy cabin for 3 nights. Cheap base-camp from which to explore the area.

Peter slicing strawberries for a short-cake desert

Herb prepared a tasty one-pot dinner for the gang

Near our campground was a monument to Colorado veterans killed in the Vietnam War

Cycling Colorado National Monument

At Monument entry - L-R Herb, Dennis, Peter, Frank, me, and Bob A.

The Colorado National Monument, created in 1911, embraces 32 square miles of rugged high plateau and canyon country. Rim Rock Drive climbs 2,000' from the valley floor to the rim of the plateau. Numerous viewpoints and overlooks offer breathtaking and glorious views of the Grand Valley and canyons carved into the plateau.

We completed a 44 mile loop from our campground through the Monument taking our time to visit every viewpoint to absorb the beauty of the magnificent scenery.

One of the cycling race scenes from the movie American Flyer starring Kevin Costner was filmed here.

The day started out sunny but we got caught in the Rockies infamous thunderstorms on the last leg from Grand Junction to Fruita. Our first unglorious welcome to Colorado moment.

Crossing the high-flowing Colorado River

Dennis and I turned 62 and purchased our lifetime Golden Eagle (Geezer) National Park pass. A bargain at only $10 and deal of a lifetime.

Climbing Rim Rock Drive

Road carved through magnificent red rock sandstone

Passing through several tunnels (above and below) carved through the sandstone

Overlooking Grand Valley and Fruita

Road weaves it's way to the top

First view of Independence Monument, a major landmark

A nifty viewpoint overlooking Monument Canyon

The wide side view of Independence Monument

Frank, Peter and Herb on overlook

Little rocks on big rock

Eroded sandstone "fin"

After a 3 mile; 2,000' climb, the road levels off a bit

View of Coke Ovens

Group shot of riders

Group shot of bikes

Two riders across canyon

Looking down one of many canyons

Ghost of Marco Pantani zooms by

Peter and Herb waving to me from across the canyon

On the curvy descent into Grand Valley from the rim

Fantastic hair-pin turns weaves into valley floor
Click on pic for expanded view

The last turn of Rim Rock Drive sweeps into Grand Junction

My cycling girlfriend has a great tan!