Monday, May 21, 2012

The Sweetwater Mountains - May 2012

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We like to look for good omens and good signs. This trip had its share.

The Lady and I visited my Aunt and Uncle in Deadwood, South Dakota in the mid 1980’s. It was the Lady’s first time in this historic mining town. My relatives lived in the log cabin on lower Main Street, across and down from the colored doors – for those of you familiar with Deadwood in the 70’s and 80’s. Theirs was the only residence on this section of Main Street – and they sold later when gambling was legalized. The cabin was procured and moved by the historical society to a new location. Showing the Lady around Deadwood, we visited the Mt. Moriah Cemetery and paid our respects to Wild Bill. Looking at the old headstones and the stories they told, we came upon the grave of two young sisters, twins, Addie and Emma. We loved the names and remarked that if we had children, we wanted girls and we would name them Addie and Emma.

Friday, the Lady was accompanying the eighth graders on their graduation trip to Six Flags and getting back late in the evening. My chores after work were to ready the truck for a quick weekend trip. Backing out to go fill it with gas, I found the driveway blocked by our UPS delivery man. I climbed out expecting a package.
“Hey, I don’t have a package for you,” the driver said.
I was confused, “Oh?”
“I just saw you have one of those campers! Can you answer a couple of quick questions? I want to get one.”

We got a before dawn start on Saturday. The Sweetwater Mountains lie to the north of Bridgeport and straddle the California – Nevada border and are an interesting place to visit. With high barren peaks above tree line and drainages cloaked in aspen groves, we were happy to return.

Large mule deer moved behind a screen of aspen as we drove by Lava Springs. A bald eagle took flight as we climbed a narrow two track past Lobdell Reservoir.

The views to the west and of the Sierra Nevada crest are worth the drive alone.

If you take your time and stop and walk, you may find treasures right at your feet.

 The Sweetwaters have a long history of grazing and Basque shepherds. Their graffiti and carving adorn the trunks of aspen. We have found quite pornographic artwork on display in these mountains. I’ll keep this story strictly clean and decent.

We got acquainted with a couple of new areas and checked out access points for future trips. As we were descending the grade on Bircham Flat Road, the Lady looked across at the Sierra Nevada, up the Little Walker River Valley, and remembered a hike we had done with friends up to Emma Lake.
“Let’s go see if we can get up to Emma,” she said.
That’s what quick little trips like this are about.

The road climbs up to the Wilderness trailhead and then it is a short hike up the trail to Emma Lake.

We got a nice view back at the Sweetwaters.

We had spotted a camping spot near the trailhead that we would use so we could relax and just enjoy being up here. After a snack, we decided to go higher, off trail.

We continued up.

We kicked ourselves for having not brought along our ice axes as we could have knocked off a couple of summits.

But there was more than enough to marvel at.

We returned back down to Emma as some clouds built in the afternoon.

We found a cozy high point to pop the top and settle in.

We were amazed at the number of mule ears coming up and look forward to the bloom of their yellow flowers and the rattle of their dry leaves in the fall.

We could not have wanted a nicer vista than this to enjoy our dinner.

We walked after dinner and waited for the sunset.

Although it dropped into the low 40’s overnight we left a couple of windows open for the air, the smell of sage, the sound of the night breeze, and the chorus of coyotes that woke us before daybreak.

Far from other people, we live for the fleeting moments of first light as the day comes alive and light streams across the mountains.

We sat quietly and let the sun warm us.

The cool of the early morning drew our thoughts to a possible hot spring soak. We traveled to Bridgeport. Two fellows were in the classic pool at Travertine Hot Springs. As we came by, their well behaved border collie greeted us. The Lady has a fondness for this breed and a conversation was quickly progressing.
“She has a great disposition, not too hyper. What’s her name?” the Lady inquired.
“I love the name Addie.” the Lady replied.

The guys were getting dressed. I moved a couple of empty Coors cans to take photos. I heard the fellows telling the Lady they were heading back over 120 to Yosemite as they were climbers and were living in “The Valley.”

This was an incredible Sunday with perfect weather. It was mid morning. We wandered up Green Creek to find that the beaver have been busy in the meadows.

We have a friend who skis peaks out of the Twin Lakes area. We headed up that way to check out what he had explained for winter access and routes and add them to our knowledge base. As I said, this was an incredible day.

Two wonderful days. We are so lucky to have so many opportunities in varied landscapes so close by. And, so lucky that a high mountain lake and a two year old border collie can bring back cherished memories and good omens.

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