Evening at Mono Lake (Eastern Sierra, CA) 06-Aug-2022

Mono Lake is probably one of the most iconic and easily recognized features on the eastern side of California’s Sierra Nevada. It’s a 65 square mile (168 sq km) lake with no natural outlet. So even though it collects water from Lee Vining, Rush, and Mill Creeks (among others), evaporation makes its waters very salty – about 2 times saltier than the Pacific Ocean.

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Hardin Butte (Lava Beds National Monument) 02-Feb-2022

Today is Ground Rodent Day – when we give a glorified squirrel a shot at predicting the weather. Seems that some lucky 🤔 people (but possibly not us) are in for many more weeks of winter. Or not – it is, after all, just some squirrel’s cousin that they yanked out of a hole in the ground. 🐿

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Flume Trail (Castle Crags State Park, CA) 21-Jul-2021

After going high for our first hike in the Mount Shasta area, we decided to go some 4,000 feet (1,220 m) lower for our second. Specifically, a loop formed from the Flume and Bob’s Hat Trails and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Castle Crags State Park. We got another early start but noticed that the heat built sooner and higher down here than it had up at Boulder Peak. That said, there was plenty of shade and even a few, still flowing, water courses to keep the heat at bay – at least in the morning. But we were back in town – “rehydrating” – before it got too hot. 😅

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Boulder Peak (Trinity Divide, CA) 20-Jul-2021

There were a few hikes we wanted to do west of Mount Shasta, California. Rather than spend hours driving back and forth to individual hikes, we basecamped in a hotel (as even tough and stupid has its limits) in Mount Shasta and did three different hikes from there. Not only did this avoid a lot of driving, it also meant that we could arrive at the respective trailheads way early – in the cool of the morning – without having to roll out at o-dark-thirty. These early starts also got us back to town before the day really heated-up. We were also fortunate that this trip coincided with a brief cooling spell (90°F (32°C) versus 105°F (40°C)) and a wind shift that blew the wildfire smoke eastward (sorry North Dakota 😯), giving us almost clear skies. So something of bright spot in an otherwise trying summer. Not to mention us not having to eat my cooking for a few days. 😉

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Lily Pad Lake (Red Buttes Wilderness) 16-Jul-2021

The Bootleg Fire, which has now exceeded 273,000 acres (110,450 ha), continues to march east, chewing-up the forest and spewing out great volumes of smoke as it does so. Sadly, it is now eating its way into the Gearhart Wilderness, which has a plentiful supply of dead trees to act as fuel. This was another place that we’ve now apparently missed our chance to re-visit. 😥 The smoke from the Bootleg and other fires in Oregon and California is pushed mostly east by the prevailing westerlies. But winds shift, bringing this smoke to us when they do so. That, combined with that heat dome thing, has made cool, smokeless hiking a rare commodity thus far this summer.

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