Saturday, September 25, 2010

Castle Peak Hike

Castle Peak (elev. 9,103') is a remnant of an ancient volcano and its three turrets, easily visible from the I-80 freeway, are geologic icons of Donner Summit.

Today, 13 members of the Sac. Co. Hiking group drove up to Donner Pass/Boreal/PCT trail head to hike to the summit of Castle Peak. Six members turned around at Castle Pass and completed a moderately difficult 6 mile RT hike.

Seven members took the spur trail from Castle Pass to the summit of Castle Peak. After lunch at the top, we crossed the saddle to Basin Peak before descending to the trail head. The longer hike was extremely strenuous, although not technical, and involved a lot of bush-whacking across low growing shrubbery and loose rock. Slipping and falling was a common occurrence for some. The very tough 10 mile RT hike ascended approximately 2,000'.

Click on pic once/twice for enlarged view

The hiking group at the trail head. With temps in the mid-80s, it was a beautiful day for a hike.

Equestrians saddling up at the trail head

Beautifully groomed horses

Looking up to our destination from the trail head - a grueling 5 mile climb

Passing a serene pond

The trail crossed vast fields of drying mules ears. What a sight to see them earlier in full bloom.

The view of Castle Peak battlement from below Castle Pass

Zooming in with my 10x Power Shot at hikers at the top

Two hikers approaching Castle Pass Summit with Castle Peak beyond

Taking the spur trail from Castle Pass toward the Turrets. About 1 1/2 mile of strenuous hard-scrabble climbing lies ahead.

Basin Peak (left) sits across the saddle from Castle Peak. After summiting Castle Peak, we crossed the saddle to the peak then bush-whack our way down the slope to the PCT for the return trip.

On the way up, I pass two formations in the image of a minuteman and a hog ;-)

The north face of Castle Peak drops off a shear cliff

Zooming in on some hikers at the top

Looking north over the edge

Finally, at the top!

A couple guys at the top from Reno and Germany

View north toward Prosser Lake

View north along a ridge line

View west along saddle toward Basin Peak

The lads eating lunch at the top - Ward, Don, Mike B. and Frank

Man vs. Apple

A gutsy hiker climbs to the top of one of the turrets

Mike, Ward, and Don

Zooming in on Mt. Lola, the highest peak in Nevada County. I climbed it last year.

Looking down to Boreal Ridge Ski Resort where we started the hike

Hiking across the saddle toward Basin Peak

Passing a truncated pine shaped by the wind and weather

Looking back toward Castle Peak from Basin Peak

Sign on Basin Peak. Must be the elevation . . . appears about right.

Mike T. and Frank G. begin the tricky descent bush-whacking over shrubs and very loose terrain

Mike T. and Dorthy T. whacking down the mountain.

This was one tough hike. End of blog.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mammoth Lakes and Eastern Sierra

The Minarets
Click on pic once/twice for enlarged view

The region known as the Eastern Sierra has become one of my favorite places and I try to get there every year. For extreme biking or hiking there is no better place. The mountains are majestic and scenery unbeatable. The hiking around Mammoth in particular is outstanding with many short hikes offering quick access to gorgeous views and scenery.

The Fraschetti clan was gathering in Mammoth Lakes and invited me to join them. An offer I could not refuse. Being an extended member of their family, I joined Dick, Jan and daughter Brooke, and Dick's bro - Dave and his wife Lyn from Escondido - for a great time of hiking, fishing, hearty eating and drinking, and just hangin' out.

We completed a couple awesome hikes in between all the jovial festivities.

Thanks for the invite. I had a great time.

But it's time to go back on a diet and to detoxify!

On the drive down Hwy 395, I stopped at Mono Lake to check out the bird life. A flock of avocets were feeding along the shores along with the usual suspects - gulls.

Avocet in non-breeding plumage

The condo overlooked a pond stocked with huge trouts

The Fraschettis rented a beautiful condo at Snow Creek with fantastic views of the mountains (above and below)

Dick, Brooke, Jan, Dave (a Huell Howser look alike) and Lyn

A day hike to Crystal Lake and Mammoth Crest

A view of Lake George where we started the hike. Lake Mary behind.

Photo opp time above Lake George

Zooming in on a row boat with my 10x Power Shot

Dick and Brooke

Arriving at Crystal Lake with landmark Mammoth Crags

Mammoth Crest rises above Crystal Lake

Fires in the southland brought smoky haze into the Mammoth Lakes valley. Lakes L to R - Twin Lakes, Lake Mamie, Lake Mary, and Lake George. Town of Mammoth Lakes lie beyond.

Brooke and Lyn in front of Mammoth Mtn. and Horseshoe Lake

View of Crystal Lake and Mammoth Crags

Views of Ritter and Banner beyond shoulder of Mammoth Crest

Approaching the high point of 10,400'

View of Minarets beyond Crest

View of Mammoth Mtn. and Horseshoe Lake from the summit

Following the Crest Trail around the ridge

Another view of the Minarets, Ritter and Banner. Unfortunate it's a hazy day.

Gaa-aah-lee!! That's Amaa-zing!!!

"Huell" caught a few luggers for a superb fish fry

One evening, we drove up to Minaret Vista to catch the sunset

View of Mammoth Mtn. at sunset

Ski and gondola buildings on top of mountain

Orange sunset glow created by smoky haze

Silhouette of Minarets

Lyn, Dave, Brooke, and Jan

With the Fraschettis

The wide view of Minaret range. Click on pic once/twice for expanded view.

The entire clan

On another day, we drove to Saddlebag Lake near Tioga Pass in Yosemite. A fantastic 5 mile trail loops around the lake.

Shepard Peak and Crest dominates the north end of the lake

Lyn, Brooke and Dick

North Peak (12,242') peeks out around the corner

More of North Peak comes into view as we hike around the lake

The Bionic Man

Dick is making remarkable recovery from a major achilles tendon replacement surgery. He makes it around the entire lake.

A shuttle boat provides service between south and north shores for access into the back country or those opting for a shorter hike. As tempting it was to take the boat back, we hiked around the entire lake.

At Greenstone Lake with North Peak behind me

Mt. Conness (12,590') peeking over the horizon on left

Green vegetation created by springs seeping out of slope. Note trail along base of mountain.

Guess which way the winds are prevailing . . . ?

The Shogun and his entourage

Tioga Pass Rd., the highest paved through road in CA, cutting across the mountain side

Lyn and Brooke above Lee Vining Canyon

3/4 moon arising