Monday, October 17, 2011

East Side Sierra Aspens - October 2011

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“I have a paper plate up at the turn off. It says ‘BS and Ski’” It was Ted on the phone. It was 2:45 Friday afternoon and I was at my workbench finishing up my day, anticipating the Lady getting home from school and her high energy circles around the house, last minute items stowed in the truck, her nest made in the front seat, and then her announcement – “I’m ready, let’s go, we’re burning daylight!” all with a mischievous grin. 

This trip had been planned and dates set weeks ago – to the east side of the Sierra Nevada in search of fall colors. It was a surprise the time was already here. It is getting more and more like that.

First stop was within a couple of miles. We turned into Barking Spider’s place. Their truck was running with Barking and his copilot standing at the truck’s open doors. “Let’s get going, we’re ready and we’re burning daylight!”

Looks like I was spending the weekend with Duke Wayne and Gus and Call from Lonesome Dove; another adventure.

The Ted unit had set out the day before and done an excellent job on recon. With recommendations from a friend, a great campsite was secured for our group of three.

Ted is known for his spectacular entries, but he was already there, we were the ones making an entry. How would he handle this? What would he come up with?

We found the paper plate, turned right and drove, and there he was, down the two track, out on the lonely distant ridgeline, a beacon with his flashlight, guiding us in.

We circled the wagons with Ted and we all got settled.

The Lady and I were up early the next morning and tried not to disturb our gracious neighbors.

This campsite was the best and the show was about to begin. Night was turning into day.

The skies took on their morning pinks as the lights of Bridgeport shone in the distance.

In a moment it had already changed.

We wandered out to the point and there was Mono Lake below.

We were mesmerized by the sunrise. This was an amazing place. We turned and watched first light hit our camp.

And light up the world around us. We had come in in the dark. This was our first view of what lay around us.

The Sierra crest was right to the west, just catching the morning sun.

The others had also joined us. It was a morning we will remember.

After breakfast and a few stories - this was a weekend of stories, more on that later – plans were made to stay at this camp but we would hike up the canyon above nearby Virginia Lakes after driving two of our rigs up to the trailhead.

The willows were joining in with their fall display.

As we climbed up into the alpine grandeur, we left the aspens below but the wild blueberries took over with their reds.

The snow deepened in the high talus and we decided this was far enough.

The geology in this area is interesting. Set among the classic Sierra granite are outcropping of old metamorphic rock, slates and conglomerates, also scared with the striations from now gone glaciers. As we were discussing what we were looking at, a young man approached.
“I hear you talking about geology, are you geologists?” he asked.
“No, but we love this stuff and like trying to figure out the story. This is so interesting. Are you a geologist?”
“Yes,” he answered. Life is good.
 We were looking at some of the oldest rocks in California. The conglomerates were possibly old stream channels overlying the slates and now all cooked and tilted up to nearly vertical.

Their colors were as bright as the fall leaves on this autumn morning.

There were more FWCs in the trailhead when we returned. Barking Spider took on the role of ambassador as folks stopped to ask about these campers.

We decided to drive a bit down 395 and poke around Lundy Lake. People in the parking lot were mentioning how spectacular it was there. We barely made in over Conway Summit and we had to stop. The colors were amazing.

Lundy Lake area was aglow with blinding yellow.

Ted is a great guy. The kind of guy who is happy to smile through bug splatters.

We made several stops in the canyon below Lundy Lake. There was something to see, something to photograph around every corner. We were burning up pixels. We were in heaven; in heaven indeed!

We returned to our camp. Some of our photographers just could not stop.

Evening chores commenced and so did the stories.

“Oh, but this gets better!” This is a key element to a Barking Spider story. He already has you captured in the tale. One piece of the story would be an epic for a mere mortal, but there is more, and, he is always right……….it does get better!

A very condensed example -

Barking is crawling through thick mountain brush and comes face to face with a mountain lion coming from the opposite direction. Postures, growls, continuing stalking approach convince Barking he has made the top of today’s menu selections. Barking breaks his hard hat hitting the lion. Barking runs from lion because there is no way to make himself bigger. The lion pursues. Barking runs into logging operation. Loggers do not believe his story. Logger gets his pistol out of his truck……………………………..

“Oh, but this gets better!”

…………………………………and offers to go back with Barking and check it out. The lion is still there. Logger, visibly shaking, hands Barking the pistol, “You shoot it!” Gun is not big enough, would only make lion mad. Logger and Barking back away from lion. Colleagues do not believe story. Colleague takes his two large dogs with him to check it out. Colleague is passed by his speeding dogs with lion right on their butts.  Dogs leap in back of truck. Colleague dives into the front. Lion circles truck. Lion runs out onto highway and is hit and killed by vehicle. DF&G donates lion to local high school. The lion was stuffed and is on permanent display as their “Cougar” mascot.

Yes, stories were told. We enjoyed our evening. This was camping.

Words are useless to describe the next morning’s fireworks of dawn.

Our photographers were out, doing their best to capture each fleeting moment of changing light.

It was a stunning sunrise.

Soft light invaded the meadows below us.

After breaking camp, we just followed the colors north along Dunderberg Meadows Road.

The sunlight would break between the clouds and shafts of light would travel across the landscape lighting up aspen groves among oohs and ahs from our group – orgasmatic sounds – one of our group coined it. I’m not saying who.

It was a wonderful getaway with excellent company. A great weekend and I’ll close this story with a photo of happy photographers.

…………..cue wind in the leaves, the quaking of aspen, and orgasmatic sounds...............

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