Thursday, October 25, 2012

Giant mountains and wild lava tubes


In mid October, we spent three nights and four days exploring several wild areas in Northern California.  The first night, we camped at Hat Creek (along the PCT) just north of Lassen Peak.  This is the same place we camped in late June.  It's a beautiful, free campsite right along Hat Creek, a rushing mountain stream.  The temps plummeted overnight, but the three of us stayed warm and happy!  A morning cup of hot chocolate was a perfect way to start the frosty day! 

From there, we drove to Lava Beds National Monument, right near the Oregon border. 
We had an amazing time in Lava Beds.  The park exceeded our expectations.  We especially enjoyed exploring the multitude of small caves in the area.  The caves are all lava tubes from past volcanic activity.  The hiking was also quite interesting.  This is high desert with sagebrush and juniper trees.  The stars are night were fantastic!  We took a long walk between in the evening (partially to pass the time after it got dark, partially to stay warm, and partially to view the ancient night sky above). 
Dropping in to the dark unknown!

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Sunrise at our campsite in Lava Beds
A happy camper!
Exiting a cave into the glorious sunshine
Alpenglow on Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jasper at 6 months!

Jasper is 6 months old now!  He is 16 lbs, 13 oz and 27.25 inches long.  He is happy and healthy!  Here are some of my favorite photos from the other day...

Backpacking among the ancient trees

In early October, I headed out into the wilds of Redwood National Park for a solo overnight backpacking trip.  I hiked down in to Tall Trees Grove, a remote stand of giants, then along Redwood Creek to my campsite at Elam Creek.  On the way, I saw fresh elk tracks and scat.  This time of year often has perfect weather...It's after the summer fog but before the winter rain.  I saw mostly sunny skies and a stunningly clear night.  My campsite was just a few feet above the water at the confluence of Redwood and Elam Creek.  On the second day, I backpacked up to almost 1400 feet (my campsite was at about 60 feet), then looped back to Tall Trees Grove and eventually my car.  It seemed to be a little used area of the park.  There were very few other hikers.  A fresh pile of bear scar added to the wildness!   
Redwood Creek

Some of the ancient giants along Redwood Creek
Redwood Creek reflection from my campsite

What a campsite!

My tent looks like a boulder on the right side of the picture

The mountain lakes of Oregon

To celebrate the last 3 days of summer, the three of us ventured north to several mountain lakes in the Cascades of Southern Oregon.  The weather was sunny with temps in the 70's in the day and around 50 at night...perfect for camping!  We spent both nights camping at Lake of the Woods, which is a large lake just south of the impressive looking Mt. McLoughlin (9,495').  I hiked a 12 mile segment of the PCT, which wrapped around Brown Mountain, getting ever-closer to McLoughlin.  We enjoyed two evenings along the shores of the lake as we gazed at the sunset, a spectacular crescent moon setting over the distant mountains and finally a stunning night sky.      
On the shore of Lake of the Woods

Our campsite at Lake of the Woods

Along the PCT through an old lava flow
Along the PCT looking north at Mt. McLoughlin

Somebody is excited to be camping!
Mt. McLoughlin and Lake of the Woods