Tuesday, April 28, 2015

McArthur-Burney Falls State Park and Mount Shasta

We leave the north entrance for Lassen National Park and head north on Route 89.

Another all beautiful woods drive.

A number of campers had told us about McArthur-Burney Falls State Park.  Are we glad we listened!

A large park with miles of trails and wonderful camping.

Snow from the mountains melts and travels down into underground springs.  About one mile above the falls the springs come above ground to create the force for these 129 foot high falls.  Not all the springs come above ground above the falls. You see many spots here where the water forces its way through the volcanic rock. 100 million gallons of water flows over these falls each day and there is a 20 foot deep pool at the foot. Water temperature stays a great 48 degrees making for a very cool change of air nearby.

This is a very popular fishing spot.  There are many spots along the creek with good access for fishing as well as on Lake Britton.

Where Burney Creek comes out and meets Pit River there is this great little camp called Camp Britton.

It is for Pacific Gas and Electric employees and retirees.  We met some on the trails. They were staying here a week and had rented 6 cabins for 7 days for about a total of $150.(Yep, that's the total for everything and everybody)  Of course, we know that many of you have the same perks where you work. Right?

Jan is looking at this ancient wall along the creek trail.
About 5 million years ago this wall was under water. Hard-shelled algae called diatoms lived here. When they died they sank and formed this layer of white rock.

We are always telling you about Civilian Conservation Corps constructions from the 1930's all across the U.S., especially in state parks.

This is a Diablo Stove.  Many were built here and many still remain.  A very efficient camp stove with easy access for removing old coals, good ventilation, and a good, large grate for cooking with an additional solid grate for frying or other.

On of the great hikes meets up with the Pacific Crest Trail.

Note the distances to Mexico and Canada.

Bruce was insisting we wait for Reese Witherspoon(the movie Wild).  But, Jan was sure she was not going to be here.

The views from above the falls are also quite enjoyable.

Often, you come across some fellow tourists who would like their picture taken together at some great viewing spot.  Then, you reverse and ask them if they might also take your picture.

Actually, you can have some great conversations this way.

We could have stayed longer at the state park. However, there was absolutely no cell phone coverage, wifi, or even a signal for our weather radio

But, off we go on Route 89 again.  Over to Route 5 and then south for about 12 miles to Castle Crags State Park.  A little questionable at first because it is so close to the interstate.  But indeed a very enjoyable park.

Our first hike takes us under the interstate and under the train tracks and then over this suspension walkway over the Sacramento River.

It then continues for a few miles along the river.

You understand that this park was here before the interstate.

Along the nature trail is another example of CCC construction from the 1930's.

Unfortunately, the building of the interstate destroyed a number of CCC buildings.

Almost everything here is on a hill.  Jan and I hike up a very steep road to a vista.  One view is of Castle Crags.   Can you find that great face on one of the walls?  These granite walls rise to more that 6500 feet.
At the same vista, Jan has a great view of Mount Shasta.

What a great example of how a 14,162 foot mountain can force moisture filled air up one side and create clouds.

There are many roads that will give you a mountain view.

Got to say, this sudden vision as we head back north to the city of Mt. Shasta is spectacular.

A quick stop at the visitor's information and we learn that we can drive Lady Blue up the mountain road. Not only that, but we can park overnight at Bunny Flat where the road is currently blocked for the winter.
Jan is enjoying the view from our new camping spot for one night at 6950 feet.

We were not alone. But all of the other 30 or so vehicles were here to hike or to ski.  We saw so many who put on large backpacks with skis attached and started out to the peak wearing ski boots!

One said he got up very early and hiked all the way to the peak.  He said the skiing was fantastic.

This is the view from Lady Blue's rear side window at sunset.  The sun still shines beautifully on the peaks.

It is very difficult to leave such a great area.

So, after some shopping in town, we go a little west of town to Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort.  Some 300 plus campsites, but only a handful were being used this early in the season.

This is heading down to the boat launch.  Two men are cleaning a cooler full of fish and, of course,there is a beautiful view of Mount Shasta.

From the marina.  There is a 7 plus mile hike around the lake that appears to be very well used.  The workers here indicated that this campground will be totally full on July 4th.  You can probably understand why.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Jan and I knew we had to disappear from Gansner Bar Campground in the Plumas National Forest on the Feather River Scenic Byway.


Because trout season was opening!!
We head back east on Route 70 and then north on Route 89 towards Lake Almanor. A quick stop at the lake and we have our first view of Mt. Lassen.

There are still some great peeks at the mountain along the highway.

Can you believe that this is an area of low population?

Very few places to access Lake Almanor too.

Lassen required a little planning on our part.
Route 36/89 west to the Southwestern Entrance.
Route 89 through Lassen, however, was not open all the way( waiting for snow clearance).

But the new visitor's center was open and we could camp in the parking lot!

All of the four kinds of volcanos are represented in this park.

The mountain peaks that we can see are remains of  the edges of one of the largest.

Lassen is the least visited of the national parks.
Maybe because it is in an out of the way location.

The road is open for one mile past the visitor's center, so Lady Blue says "Let's go!!!"

Jan and I thought our New England friends would appreciate that we are finally seeing some snow in late April.

From the end of the open section of the road, we hike up another mile or so.

Actually, as you can imagine, I was not terribly sad to miss driving Lady Blue on this road.  Love the steep drop offs.

Part of our walk goes past the site of an old sulpher works.  The hydrothermal areas are still steaming with bubbling mud pots, boiling water, and a distinct sulpher smell.

Like other parts of California, Lassen is only seeing about 25 per cent of the usual 12 feet of snow. If they had the usual amount, we would not be walking here.

Lady blue would be happy to know she missed another one of these.

They love hairpin turns around here.

Around a few more corners and up several hundred feet and there is Lassen Peak.

The next morning we saw a young man gear up from his van with a large backpack and skis tied on the back.  He was going to hike about five miles and then ski??????

From the Southwestern entrance, we backtrack and continue on Route 36  to Susanville for an overnight.
The next day, we head north on Route 44 to the Northern Entrance of Lassen. On the way, a vista gives us this view of Lassen.  Also visible is a large area of forest fire damage from about 2009.  There was also fire damage from a fire in 2014.
Lady Blue is happy that the fires are not visible here in Lassen.  The North Entrance is even less visited than the Southwest Entrance.
The roads are beautiful to drive and there are many more views of Lassen Peak.

Jan and I enjoy the informative signs that give pictures from the 1914 eruptions of Mt. Lassen.
Also easy to see the boulders that were sent down here about 3 miles from the peak of the volcano.

It seems everywhere we turn, we see examples of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930's.

Some of the work in stone and wood is impressive to see 80 years later.

Not sure that a national park would add some of these artistic flairs today.

Jan first saw the Momma bear as we were leaving Lassen.  By the time I had my camera ready, Momma had disappeared over the hill.  But---right in front of us was Baby bear.  We didn't believe this was a black bear, but the rangers told us this is a cinnamon colored black bear.  We were happy that we were not between the Momma and the Baby!!!  By the way, Lassen is still considered a potentially active volcano.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lake Tahoe to Feather River Canyon

From Carson City, Route 50 heads right up and over the mountains to Lake Tahoe.  An entirely different landscape.

Lots of pine trees and this beautiful, clear lake.

Our first stop is at Sand Harbor State Park on Lake Tahoe. This park is on the east side and is a Nevada State Park(no camping).
Well maintained with beautiful beaches  and wonderful mountain views.The group is a college group of friends taking some sun.  You would have to be college age to be in swimsuits at 60 degrees.

Lake Tahoe at 6200 feet elevation is the largest alpine lake in North America. It is also the second deepest US lake at 1645 feet deep, after Crater Lake.

What we notice most is the clarity of the water.

Parts of this cove are over 10 feet deep, yet you can see right to the bottom.

In the 1800's, the locals tested the clarity with a disk and it was clear down to 100 feet.  Now , with runoff pollution, it is down to 65 feet.  Still, pretty impressive.

Jan and I enjoy a great drive north around to the west side of the lake and Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park in Tahoma, California  They are still in winter mode, but they keep 16 sites open year round.

Lady Blue likes her site--dry camping.

This park is situated in a wonderful spot.  There is a bike trail that goes for miles on this side of the lake and then up northwest from Tahoe City for a few miles as well.

There are also miles of hiking trails,including one down to the shore and the Ehrman Mansion. Open for touring in the summer, this is a huge mansion.
27 staff members to run and  11,000 square feet of living space on three floors.

Built in 1903, the first visitors to see the new summer home had a great experience of a train ride  from San Francisco to Truckee. Another train ride to Tahoe City, and then a boat ride on the lake to the mansion. There was no road around Lake Tahoe until 1914.

Once there they were waited on like at a luxury hotel.  Mrs. Ehrman was a wonderful host. The daughter sold the property to the state of California in 1965. This link gives a lot of information about the park. It opens as a pdf file. Scrolling to the bottom of the file gives a great map and trail information. Jan and I hiked the Ronn Beaudry and the General Creek Trails.   Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point

This is a view from the Ehrman front yard across to the eastern shore.  You can see the ski slopes and Freel Peak at 10,900 feet.

Jan and I are enjoying the grounds with perhaps 10 other people. In the summer , this is a very popular spot.

In addition to the mansion and the lake shore, the campground roads connect directly to many hiking trails, including the biathlon ski trails from the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.

On the trail , Jan is looking up at the trail marker on the tree.  It is blue, about 15 feet above ground.

Okay, the average snowfall here is 12 feet per year.  Since this is a great cross country ski trail, the markers are kept where they can be seen all winter.

You can tell that they are quite proud of hosting the Olympics.

Many firsts were used here.  A snow expert from New Hampshire came to groom the trails with a newly invented machine.  Electronic tabulations and photo finish technology among others.

Jan and I were impressed with the clear marking of all the trails.

One of our friends in back of our camping site.

He is a Steller's Jay.

You would think a picture would be easy, but they stay in the shadows and seem to never stop moving.

From Lake Tahoe, we follow a very scenic drive along Route 89 to Quincy, Ca.

We enjoy stopping at private parks now and then and always have great conversations with owners.

We have to mention that we were happy to stop at Pioneer RV Park.  Their campground was spotless and you could tell that they were working hard to keep it at a 9 to 10 star campground. See the link and listen to his video. Pioneer Rv Park 
As happens when we find a nice town, Jan and I parked in Quincy and did some shopping.  Jan picked up some stamps at the post office and mailed some postcards(hope you get them soon).  We also discovered Quincy Natural Foods with great breads, vegetables, and coffee beans.  A stroll up the street brought us to Jenelli's Bakery and some tasty scones, lemon squares,and bagel.  There was also a branch of our bank in town and we had some questions which were answered very professionally and friendly.

Route 89 is a more western route than 395 going north.  We noticed a lot--a lot!!- of National Forest campgrounds along the way. But they were all listed as not opening for  2 to 6 weeks.  Luckily we stopped at the Ranger Headquarters in Quincy and asked. Turned out that some had opened early. Yea!!!
Off we go , turning west on Route 70 following the Feather River.  This is one of the most popular scenic driving routes in the state of California.  This is also the lowest passage east/west through the Sierra Nevada.  Too bad the Donner party didn't know about this one.  This link is for the Donner Party( if you are not familiar--not for the queasy) Donner Party
The Donner Pass on Route 80, north of Lake Tahoe, is named for that disaster.

A turn onto Caribou Road brings us up the North Fork of the Feather River to a great campground, Gansner Bar.

Our site is right on the river with lots of trees, butterflies, flowers, birds, and some otters.

One half mile below us is the Caribou Crossroads.  An all in one market, cafe, post office, rv park and cabins.  You name it.

Of course we had lunch here, a great Philly Cheese Steak and Fish and Chips.

It is also a well known stop on the Pacific Crest Trail. There are notebooks where hikers leave messages.  A grandmother there also mentioned that a Trail Angel lived close by.  Trail Angels will give hikers a comfortable bed and food for a break from the trail.

The PCT starts in Mexico and goes all the way to Canada for 2,650 miles.  Recently, some of you may have watched the movie Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon.  This is supposed to be the halfway point on the trail.

The North Branch is almost 102 miles long.  There are many other branches of the Feather , all combining to provide much of the water for Californians.

A big part of the rivers is fishing.  Lots of fishing with managed stocking of trout for the season.

This sign indicates that with the opener and a fishing contest, our quiet campground will be anything but next weekend.

Lots of possibilities here.  There is this view from our campsite.

But also, a number of wild flowers in bloom.

Since the road is so quiet, Jan and I hike for five miles up to Queen Lily Campground and back.

Along the way are many wildflowers and blooming trees.

Wild poppies are all along the roadway.  We remember a whole section last year on the road up to Yosemite.

Sometimes, simple ground cover.

Or a whole section of what looked to us like the Bluebonnets of Texas.

By the river were these single bloom plants.

They looked to us like a kind of Beebombs.

These red flowers were happy on the hillsides.

A more familiar one was this dogwood down by the river.

This massive pipe over Caribou Road is supposed to be a water pipe delivering water from Lake Almanor to more western Californians.

If you click on the picture, you might see these butterflies better.  They kept landing facing away from us.  So , you are looking at their colorful backsides.

Lots of geckos in Southwest US.  There are different kinds and sizes.  This one was in our campground. He always loved this rock and often would not move---it was his rock!!!