Monday, June 13, 2016

Green Creek & Hoover Wilderness - June 2016

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Taking the fly rod for a walk.

Our love affair with the outdoors defines us. The deserts, the snowy high peaks, the ocean of sage, all call to us but nothing feels more like "going home" then when the mountains open up in the late spring. Skis are replaced with boots. Wildflowers' delicate colors replace the wonder of a snowflake. The boisterous song of cascading streams replace the silence of winter. It is new all over again. It is home.

Thursday evening was filled with chores, errands, loose ends. It felt like we were getting caught up, breathing a bit easier.

"Let's go away for the weekend," I said to the Lady. That's all it took. She took inventory of food in the cupboards and refrigerator. She even ferried a load out to the camper before she asked, "Where are we going?"

"Let's camp up Green Creek and hike into the Hoover Wilderness on Saturday," I answered. "Let's take the fly rod for a walk. I want to catch a stout rainbow up in West Lake again."

"Wonderful!" the Lady hollered over her shoulder as she hauled our sleeping bag and pillows to the camper. "I love that trail!" Her voice faded away as she went out the door to the garage. "Get your fishing license!" she instructed as the door closed.

That was all it took. In minutes the camper and gear was ready. Poor girl, now out on summer break from school, she had to wait until late Friday afternoon for our departure.

After dropping down the east side of Monitor Pass, we topped off with gas at the Walker gas station, just north of Ted's Auto Repair. Gas is only ten cents more a gallon than here at home. Avery from Walker Burger was going in as we were coming out after paying. "How are you two doing tonight?" he asked. "We're great and will be doing better after a burger for dinner," we answered.

Green Creek Road was quiet, only a few camps were tucked back into the many dispersed sites on the California Fish & Wildlife land. We crossed the boundary onto National Forest land and found our favorite spot occupied and so moved back down the road to another favorite.

We walked in the quiet as the daylight faded.

We could not have wished for a more beautiful morning or a more beautiful place.

Mule Ears in the dry areas were radiant as they caught the morning sun.

We passed the trailhead and campground and enjoyed the view up the classic glacially carved valley of Green Creek. We were going home.

It was around three and a half miles up to the trail intersection at Green Lake and time for a quick break.

We turned north and began the climb to West Lake on the trail the Lady loves.

The cascading creek flowing down from West Lake indicated the climb ahead for us.

The view up Glines Canyon and to Green Lake below was marvelous.

Up another couple hundred vertical feet of elevation and we were now in snow.

You can see why the Lady says, "I love this trail!" You should also see that the weather is rapidly changing. We climbed to the top of the ridge where there is an expansive view down Green Creek. The Lady put her see mores to work.

West Lake was below us. 

We turned into the biting wind, covered a hundred yards, and took shelter behind a stand of Mountain Hemlocks. We pulled clothes from our packs. The Lady added two layers, her fleece hat, and mittens and headed down. 

With the wind chill from the down slope wind, it was frigid. But what a beautiful place to have all to ourselves!

We returned to the outlet lobe of the lake to find refuge from the wind.

We love how the Mountain Heather flowers as soon as it is free of snow in the alpine zone.

Weather was coming in.

Huddled close together, I said to the Lady, "Let's head back down to Green Lake and I'll try for rainbows there."

The cold wind was funneled right down Glines Canyon. Green Lake was directly in its path.

The rain started as I shot this video.

The storm line followed us as we hiked back to camp. The young man who was in our favorite spot overnight had left early in the morning. We were surprised to see no one else had set up camp there during the day. Checking for clearance from overhead branches, with the camper popped up we drove the truck up the road and moved to the spot by the rock.

The sun broke through as we showered, snacked on chips and guacamole, brewed some Peets coffee, enjoyed the meadow iris, and climbed up on the rock.

The views are to live for.

We wanted to walk after washing dinner dishes. Ready to exit the camper in warm clothes, a spatter of rain hit the roof and thunder rumbled down the valley.  A game of Scrabble suddenly sounded like a better choice.

It rained all night. It was so comforting, the drumming of rain on the roof. The windows were open in our bunk area just enough to let the cool air spill in with its clean scent of rain. We slept like babies.

The rain stopped just long enough for us to enjoy morning coffee. The slick granite did not stop us from climbing up for the morning view.

A steady downpour moved us back into the camper. We wouldn't be heading back up to Green Lake to fly fish in sunny weather. We came up with an alternate plan to get a store bought Sunday breakfast at the Virginia Creek Settlement and then drive up into Yosemite to see, if by chance, the storm was breaking over on the west side of the Sierra and allow for some dramatic photography.

Breakfast was excellent. We enjoyed chatting with the young woman working as hostess. She had grown up there and graduated from Coleville High School in a class of nine. The high school has only five teachers on staff. She played on the varsity basketball team in a league that encompassed most of rural Nevada. She said playing basketball games in Carlin, Nevada was quite a school bus ride.

We mistakenly thought the storm would put down the travel through Yosemite. It was bumper to bumper 30 mile per hour tops up Tioga Pass. We took a break and drove into Saddlebag Reservoir. It was snowing at 10,000 feet.

Although the Tioga Pass area received an 84% of normal snowpack, the water level of this Southern California Edison impoundment is a stark reminder of the lingering effects of California's drought. 

We entered the park and drove down to Tuolumne Meadows. We saw rain drops on the Tuolumne River as we walked in the continuing storm.

We returned to 395 and headed home. We stopped at Heenan Reservoir for a late lunch during a lull in the rain.

We did not see any little bald eagles above the rim of the large nest, but the adults are close and tending to the nest.

Well, I didn't do any fly fishing but we did take the fly rod for a very nice walk.


  1. It's good to walk your fly rod!. I like the inclusion of video you've been adding to your posts.

  2. Thank you Andy! The fly rod is already asking for more outings!

  3. Thanks Ski.So there were eaglets in the nest at Heenan?Great to know they have returned.After the fire I had thought they might find another spot.
    Over the years we have enjoyed watching them.
    This weather seems to be a bit crazy. We came back from Lassen last week and had some of the same weather.

  4. Well, at least the cold wind blew away the mosquitoes! Dramatic photos and video.