Monday, August 19, 2013

Eastern Sierra & Bodie Hills – August 2013

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Yeah, we know. It seems we just cannot stay home. The Lady is back to school and the kids are back. It is proper to ease back into the teaching schedule with a necessary outdoor break over the weekend.

The truck was packed and ready to go when the Lady got home late Friday afternoon. You guessed it; we dined in the garden setting at Walker Burger for supper. It was still light when we reached Ted’s Dunderburg campsite.

The area was fairly busy, busier than we’ve seen it in the fall, with a polished small airstream a short ways in. It was perched on a high point for the commanding view. A cabover truck camper was tucked into the trees further in. And somebody was in Ted’s spot!
“What’s with this?” I said, “And they’re not even in a pop up camper!”
This, in my mind, approached sacrilege. I wanted to call Ted, get him up here, and roust these people out. The Lady wouldn’t let me.
“I’ve always wanted to camp lower down on the point in the open,” the Lady explained. “Let’s go!”

The spot was wonderful and out of sight of other camps. We sat out and enjoyed the evening and the expansive views. Morning was even better, except for the layers of smoke from this summer’s onslaught of wildland fires.

Mono Lake before dawn.

Northwest toward Bridgeport and the Bodie Hills to the right.

The sun rose out of the smoke to signal the day’s beginnings.

It also illuminated the layers of smoke that had laid in overnight.

On Saturday we wanted to check out Jordan Basin to the south. We had seen the signed turnoff onto a primitive road many times. MarkBC’s trip report on Wander the West from his visit last fall also called our attention to it. We had our topo maps and navigated our way around the area. We found Jordan Springs.

We discovered the eastern highpoint that offered views down into Lundy Canyon and also the expanse of Mono Lake to the east.

Copper Mountain’s summit was a short hike.

It offered a wonderful panorama of Jordan Basin with Dunderburg Peak to the north and upper Lundy Canyon to the south.

We further explored the basin and learned as many of its secrets as we could. Because of clouds coming up the Sierra Crest from the south, we decided to head over to the Bodie Hills to spend the night.

On our last trip to the Bodie Hills we discovered a rough four wheel drive road that gave access to a saddle just to the west of Potato Peak’s summit. At 10,000 feet it also offered an amazing view of the surrounding area. We set up camp.

A line of thunderstorms was approaching this area from the southeast and east. It looked like it would skirt us to the east but it then moved into the East Walker Canyon and moved over Bridgeport and continued south. It had circled our highpoint. We sat in our chairs and watched spectacular lightning strikes. We counted after each bolt of light. The main storm activity remained 3 to four miles away. It did back a bit in our direction and a smattering of rain drove us inside. Another large storm developed just east of Bodie. Flashes and booms of thunder came repeatedly from that direction. We expected we may take part in a science experiment to test out the idea that vehicle tires offer enough isolation from a lightning strike ground.

The rain passed and we ventured outside. From our highpoint two new lightning strike fires were visible.

We grabbed a compass, binoculars, camera, and cell phone. I took a bearing with my handheld compass. Surprised there was cell service, I called 911, was routed to fire, and reported that the fires were on a line 243° from Potato Peak, that would put the fires just east of 395 and Willow Springs, in the lower Bodie Hills, in juniper and pinyon,  A half hour later a helitac crew responded and started in on the small fires. The helicopter can be seen just to the right of the smoke furthest right.

The storms were breaking up as evening came on.

Mono Lake was to our south.

These storms also ignited a fire to the east of Bodie that was not spotted until Sunday morning. The Spring Peak Fire threatened Bodie and the state park and roads were closed most of the week.

We enjoyed a long walk in the evening.

The air was still hazy with smoke the next morning but this still was a great spot to wake up.

A line of thunderstorms was already active just west of the Sawtooth Ridge and the Sierra crest.

From our vantage point the Green Creek drainage was an incredible illustration of glacial moraines and a glacially carved canyon.

We buttoned everything up, dropped the top, and went to the top of Potato Peak for the morning view to the east………………..

…………………..and to the west and our high lonely spot.

It had been another adventure.

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