We flee the 110 degree, Tucson heat, headed for the higher elevation of the White Mountains in general and Pinetop, specifically. Great views along the way including.....
....the descent into the Salt River Canyon. Gotta keep your eyes on this serpentine road if you are the driver.
There's the Salt River to the right.
Beautiful red rock formations. We gain elevation and the scenery.....
.....changes. We're in a world of spruce, aspens and other tall trees.
We arrive at our rental, which surprisingly, we were able to pick up at the last minute. This will be our home for about a week as we explore the area. The elevation here is almost 7000'.
We returned, looked at the suddenly hot forecast and Amy made the executive decision that we were bugging out again. While we waited for that day to arrive, I got in a ride with the Cactus Cycling gang, our numbers sharply diminished of course.
A fast moving group of cells moved through one night and lightning ignited a fire that was quickly contained. In the above image, you can see the rows of pink fire retardant that was dropped by a plane.
I went for a 35 mile solo ride on the day before our new trip that included a stop at the Rocking K market. I like this place because it has a nice, shaded area to sit outside and look at Rincon Peak. I wonder if I'll ever hike to that monster again. And then.....
....we celebrated my and a friend's birthday at a nice Italian restaurant and then....more to come!
We had a great time despite not reaching any peaks on our hikes. A return visit is a must although the road cycling scene is not very vibrant. Mountain biking is but not road. There are many awesome climbs but the roads are quite narrow, few bike lanes so not an ideal multi-month destination during the summer. Our search continues. Maybe Montana when we visit there in a few weeks.
Our flight back included this view of the Catalinas. Table, Kimball, Bighorn peaks are all in there. I've had some twinges of interest in hiking and eventually I'll return to it but I'm still motivated to make very small, incremental gains with my cycling fitness.
We've returned home and I was anxious to build a planter so bought cedar boards, sawed them to length and began assembling them. And yes, that is a glass of wine on the platform.
We carried the finished planter to a wall and filled it with 4 large bags of soil. Then, of course....
...began planting. Given the time of the year, one of the few plants that should be started, surprisingly are watermelons. So here we go.
We heard about a good restaurant on the 18th floor of a casino on the border with CA so stopped to play blackjack where I quickly turned $50 into $65, some how. Then on to the restaurant where we sat at the bar to eat and enjoy spectacular views.
We took a rest day as an excuse to visit Truckee, CA and that was worthwhile before driving to Reno to meet a friend for dinner and then circled back to Lake Tahoe.
One of the hikes I researched prior to our arrival was starting close to the Desolation Wilderness at around 7500'. We thought maybe the snow wouldn't be so bad at that elevation and off we went. Beautiful view of Echo Lake and our start point.
Much different and welcome scenery. Rather than endless miles of trees, there was an abundance of granite with sporadic trees.
There were a few patches of snow to cross as we paralleled the lake.
There are many cabins on the shore of the lake. They are reachable by boat or hiking in with supplies. No electricity and use of generators in not allowed other than if one is needed to assist with repairs. Strictly summer use. We talked to a couple who were visiting their cabin for the first time this year. Exactly 100 years ago, a grandmother had a cabin built and it's been in the family ever since.
We saw examples of what we thought was vandalism but no. Ever since a large fire forced the bear population to seek new grounds, they've discovered these homes are like packages, waiting to be unwrapped. It's become a big problem for homeowners.
We passed Echo Lake and just above it, Upper Echo Lake. Even though our elevation had not changed much, the snow was much more widespread.
We wanted to reach the border of Desolation Wilderness but had to turn back just before reaching. We had lost the trail beneath the snow and with the snow becoming mushy, I broke through it twice. Not wanting to risk screwing up a knee was also a motivating factor.
Looking back from where we came.
We reached a signed junction and took the short walk for this view. Then we headed to the car but first....
....tried to visit the gift shop but alas, they still had not opened for the season. The snow that fell during the winter covered this two story structure. Incredible. Typically, they open on Memorial Day but not this year.
Our plans to bag a peak or two, like Tallac Peak, have been dashed by a combination of locals warning us of dangerous conditions, lack of ice axes and to date, daily late morning/afternoon showers. So, we're sticking to lower elevation hikes. We planned to start today's hike at D.L. Bliss SP but it was closed so we found a pull-out farther up the road, talked to hikers finishing their hikes and headed down this steep (10% avg. grade) for a mile.
Our descent afforded some nice views of Emerald Bay.
We got off the paved road and onto the Rubicon Trail.
A lot of good signage as we reached....
....Vigingsholm, a 38 room mansion built in 1928. It's one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in North America. Also there....
....Eagle Falls. An impressive series of falls with a healthy flow of water. Of course....
....the ponderosa and sequoia trees are huge.
We got a good look at Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe. It rises 150' above the water.
A paddle wheeler crosses the bay with the aforementioned Tallac Mountain in the background. Looking at it, it seems there is plenty of bare ground but those are near vertical slabs of granite and not part of the trail. Any other year and it'd be a doable hike but we happen to have picked the snowiest winter on record.
I hugged a monster as part of our hike. We reached the point where we had descended from our car, hiked another mile and then reversed course, reclaiming the steep, paved road.
We finished with 6+ miles and another enjoyable hike.
Given the season and our late arrival of around 11:00am, we expected to get turned around by long lines at the entrance or at best we could reach the tunnel on SR 120 and check out the Yosemite Valley view, above. Turns out....
...there was a small line and traffic wasn't bad at all! Now our revised plan was drive around and reconnoiter for a future, active visit with lots of hiking
I distinctly remember my first visit to the Grand Canyon, a literal jaw dropping first impression. This visit was close to that.
The top of Half Dome covered with clouds.
The meadow in front of El Capitan. My preference was to leave early enough so we would not be on the serpentine roads at dark so we headed back.
Our return route was different and as it turns out, much more enjoyable. Of course, all return routes include.....
....passing fire damaged acres and....
....winter scenes around the passes and peaks.
Our accommodation is on top of the middle mountain. It is 7000'+ of elevation and I am certain I have never had an extended stay at anywhere close to that elevation. The views are awesome but I am butt hurt because they have a putt-putt course and I found myself 2 down to Amy with two holes to go. I rallied to tie the match but still...,lol.
The drive to Yosemite is 4:30 and by choosing the most direct route to the park, kind of a mistake as the route was super serpentine and slow. We passed plenty of acres of burned forest.
We were on state route 120 which took us over a pass that opened only a few days ago. Must have been quite a chore to clear the snow and fallen trees for all the miles.
Look at that! After all the snow melt, the drifts are still impressive. After beginning the descent on the west facing slope of the Sierra Nevadas we...
....encounter more winter-like scenes but finally.....
....our descent reaches pine forests sprinkled with sequoias and other species.
Our drive continues with more mountainous views, we enter Yosemite Park and....
....we pass numerous water falls and approach Yosemite Valley. That comes next.
Prior to our arrival, we'd done a lot of research to find a good mix of peak visits and flat hikes. The evidence on the ground is, given the enormous snow fall, any hike above 8000' is problematic. Today's hike was from Big Meadow to Darnells Lake via the Lake Tahoe Trail.
It was our first hike via the TRT and we were looking forward to a 7 mile hike having 1400' of climbing.
It's rugged terrain with boulders and fallen trees. The trail is mostly easy to follow.
We reach Big Meadow but the trail is flooded and while we poke around looking for a way around, there is none short of fashioning a canoe out of a tree and paddling across. Fortunately, another trail is nearby, which eventually reaches another lake so we hop on.
Some standing dead trees offer fascinating shapes.
Soon, snow becomes more frequent and wide spread. There were enough patches of dirt that we could follow the trail.
There is a lot of trees fallen over the trail but someones been doing a good job keeping it clear, other than those trees that fell during the prior winter.
We find a wonderful mix of ponderosa, sequoia, aspen and other trees.
Because the trail is concave, it makes for a great stream bed to handle the flow of snow melt. My shoes take on water and the work around the deeper portions of water require struggling through brush. We decide to turn around.
The return allows us to visit a roaring stream.
We encounter a few hikers, who share their knowledge of area hiking. While we talk, a dog throughly enjoys romping on the snow. Soooo, the area peaks are described as a bridge too far unless we have crampons (we do) and an ice axe. There are some snow bowls that may have sketchy snow clinging to the sides. Hmmmmm, not very encouraging.
During our visit, we've seen plenty of evidence of fires. But, I'm pleasantly surprised by how active are the efforts to prevent future cataclysmic fires through good forest management. Our hike finished with 4 miles and 650' of climbing.
We descend from our mountain lair and enter South Lake Tahoe. Beautiful snow capped peaks abound as we head to....
....a trail head at Fallen Leaf Lake. It's a flat trail that borders the lake and that's fine for a warm-up hike.
The size of the pine cones, dropped from the ponderosas are enormous!
They are in abundant supply along with cones dropped from Sequoias and other trees.
We approach the shore where the water (I checked) is very cold and the views are very nice.
Our route takes us over a spill way. Water is gushing from the lake as it is from every water source in the region.
Hmmmm, we are stopped by a large bog with no obvious work around. A couple of locals tell us of an alternative around the bog so we keep going.
Wow, what a strange but brilliant colored mushroom. There are several on the forest floor.
The trail returns to the lake for more great views.
The mature trees in what I think is a virgin forest, are gigantic.
We get in 4 miles and than head to a nearby restaurant for an outdoor lunch.
Originally, we planned to drive to Breckenridge with our bikes. As we got within a couple of weeks of the trip, the weather forecast became very cool and not suitable for cycling. What to do, what to do. We decided upon Lake Tahoe via plane, leaving our bikes behind. Above, we approach Kitt Peak on the right as we head to....
.....Los Angeles where we sat on our plane for a short period before it took off.
In the distance, another snow capped peak as we head to Las Vegas where this time we change planes but have about a 2 hour window in which to do so. Once airborne again....
....we are warned of a bumpy experience but the pilot gains altitude and what a magnificent sight above the clouds. Eventually,.....
....the clouds break as we near Reno, NV.
The sun is dropping but we land in time to pick up our car and make the hour drive to....
....South Lake Tahoe. We are staying near the top of a 7500' mountain so the nights and mornings are kinda cold so while I miss Jack the Dog enormously, I'm happy not to be taking him on the morning walk. We begin our hiking tomorrow.
It's Thursday, another beautiful day with slightly below normal temps, only a high of 94. And yes, that dry heat phenomenon is real, feels more like mid 80's. Rincon peak in the background as I.......
....take a break in front of a market during my 37 mile ride. My route also took me....
....past this T-Rex. Odd how many of these I see in various sizes, in southern AZ. Then it was home to complete....
....packing for our exciting trip to Lake Tahoe. Jack is conflicted. He is ecstatic that he is not going, well were he to know this, trust me, he would be thrilled. But, he isn't quite sure what is happening and he will miss us as he can't accompany us on this trip. We'll miss him a bunch too.
We got out for a short ride of 15 miles on Saturday and than I joined a group for a Sunday ride and got in 100 miles for a shortened week with the return from Ohio being the interruption.
Our patio has several plants along a wall that bordered our road but even with that and the planting of tombstone roses recently, too many gaps. So, we ordered curtains and hung them for a nice effect. Seems like it's another room to the house.
With the start of a new week, 38 miles to the south with a stop at the Pentano grade school and their infamous scorpion.
We got rid of an ineffectual landscape company so I could enjoy the landscaping instead. Unsure of the bush but it was in need of a haircut so we bought hedge trimmers and got to work.
Not bad! The bush in the background was done professionally on our neighbors property and I think my outcome compares favorably....if I do say so myself. We're busy packing for the trip to Lake Tahoe. One of the hikes I'd like to do includes part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hoping the snow is not too deep.
There I was, exiting the house with Jack for an evening walk, Jack walks right by the above. Having received snake avoidance training, I was surprised there was no reaction but apparently, it's the sound of the rattle that kicks in the training and sure enough, once the snake initiated the rattle, Jack freaked out, so that's good. What provoked the snake to rattle???
I alerted Amy that we had an unwanted visitor, grabbed a bucket and broom and coaxed the snake (I was surprised this worked) into the bucket. The bucket handle was well within strike range so I placed the broom firmly on the snake and walked about 100 yards where we released it into the wild. It was one pissed off snake when I shoved the bucket over and it slithered out.
Hey well guess what? For those of you who miss the hiking views and reports, we're headed to Lake Tahoe in a few days. No cycling, just hiking. A bunch of snow on the peaks and surrounding areas so won't know for sure which of the hikes we've researched are doable. Taking an extra pair of hiking shoes as I have read the transition areas between the snow and ground are pretty wet and of course a pair of cramp-ons. More to come.
I probably cut 7-8 trees during my visit, removing the pieces and stacking them. And continued....
...clearing the annoying briars and some other undergrowth, mixing with branches and creating good fires.
Anthony and I did the putt-putt golf thing a couple of times. Somehow, he managed to make a "2" on every hole so won one match and lost, barely, the other.
He also attempted to distract me to enhance his advantage.
I challenged Anthony to a duel, ha, ha, using Nerf guns.
Lastly, challenging him to a soccer game, where if I stopped a kick, I got a $1 and if he got a kick by me, he got a $1. We called it even after the game, only because I was ahead. Had it been the other way, of course I'd have to pay. Well, back to beautiful southern AZ where we are experiencing a very mild late spring.