Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sonora Pass - September 2015 - Part Two

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Labor Day Weekend

This time of year, with the beginning of the school session and the end of summer, is busy and time hardly exists for planning a trip. The only thing we knew is, if at all possible, we are going. Our recent trip to Sonora Pass had whetted our appetite and it is close. It qualifies as a one tank of gas getaway, so we knew that was our destination. The truck and camper were packed in a few minutes Wednesday evening - the only time available - and ready to go when we could get away late Friday afternoon. How far would we make it before dark? Where would we camp? How busy would it be for the holiday weekend? These questions did not matter. The act of "just getting away" over powered these thoughts. The Lady's deep relaxed sigh as we climbed the grade from home told the story. "We'll do fine," she said as she looked over at me from the passenger seat. "Let's just see where we end up tonight."

Where we ended up provided these early Saturday morning views from our dispersed campsite.

Off of highway 108 near the top of Sonora Pass are a few camp spots we have used. We were shocked but pleased that the area was fairly empty.

Saturday was for hiking. We wanted to explore the Pacific Crest Trail to the north.

It was cold with a strong wind that bit into you. A front was passing to the north. This felt at odds with the parched dryness of the landscape after four years of extreme drought.

The PCT climbs at a comfortable pace that ends with a long switchback before crossing the first ridge crest.

We found ice.

A small stream crossing the trail was frozen over and a seep running down a section of trail, now frozen, required careful boot placement.

We crossed from the Stanislaus River drainage (The Pacific) back over to the Walker River watershed (The Great Basin) and looked back to the west.

This is a landscape of steep sidehills and rocky, volcanic outcroppings.

On the east side of the Sierra Crest we wound our way north to the head of the East Fork of the Carson River.

Interesting layers of volcanics made up the eastern slopes of Sonora Peak above us.

Little Wolf Creek Lake was below us before reaching the pass into the Carson River drainage.

We crossed the pass and dropped a short ways down into the Carson River canyon stretching out to the north.

We turned around and marveled at the white Sierra granite that is covered with layer upon layer of volcanics.

We headed cross country down to Wolf Creek Lake. This area, in normal non drought years, would be wet springtime meadows, marshes, and pools.

We worked our way down to the lake.

In sheltered places ice lined the edge of the water. Granites were on one side, volcanics on the other.

As best we could, we found a spot out of the wind.

We relaxed, snacked, circled the lake, explored the area, and then started back.

Traffic on the trail was very light. Thus far we had only met one backpacker heading south to be picked up by his wife at Sonora Pass - "I'll find out how much she wants me if she's there!"

We met a couple heading north as we were returning. We chatted for a bit.

"We're training for the Cowboy Olympics," I answered when they asked what we were up to.

The woman took the bait, "What?"

I explained, "We want to compete in the Ten Mile Mosey!"

We crossed ridges a couple of times and then returned to the Pacific side.

It is a good drop in elevation back to Sonora Pass.

Completing our mosey back to the truck, we headed down the east side to find a spot to camp. We had thrown caution to the wind and not claimed the spot we used Friday night (a further explanation will follow). Did the holiday crowds invade while we were away? Surprised, we found it still relatively empty and we made ourselves at home at another high spot with a view. The Lady called it "Nine Thousand Foot Camp."

I made pop corn for a mid afternoon snack and the Lady carried our chairs out to the top of a granite outcrop; a place with a view, but we were surrounded by views.

We shared the outcrop with a wind sculpted juniper.

We left the chairs and our small table in place. We carried dinner out and delighted in just watching sunlight change to night.

It had been a wonderful day.

Our adventure concludes in Part Three. Please Click Here

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