Northern California

The first stop in California is at Redwood National/State Park, the first of two redwood parks.


A short detour along the ocean before getting into the big redwoods. It’s foggy, windy, and cold today.


Both parks seem to claim the biggest redwood, this one is over 21 feet in diameter and over 300 feet tall.


Further south in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which has the Avenue of the Giants that everyone remembers. Some nice hikes through the redwood groves, then I turn off onto the road to the campground. It’s narrow and twists around and through the redwoods.


I always feel special when they put my name on the campsite. This spot is really nice, surrounded by redwoods.


Back along with coast to Ft Bragg before heading inland. Still cold and foggy.

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I’m heading east toward Yosemite, I managed to get campground reservations for a Sunday and Monday. Weekends are impossible, I think they all book up on Jan 1 every year. So I have a few days to make my way across California. First stop is the Kelsey Creek campground just outside of Kelseyville CA. as I move inland the temp starts to rise. It was 54 degrees this morning on the beach but as I pull into Kelsey Creek it hits 100. But, as they always say, it’s a dry heat. Not too bad if you can find some shade and once the sun nears the horizon it’s very nice.


There is a lake next to the campground, perfect for beating the 100 degree heat.


Next off to Acorn Lake campground for the weekend. It’s a BLM campground on a man made lake, actually a water reservoir. Since there has been such sever drought in California what should be a lakeside campsite is a couple hundred feet above the lake. The lake is perfect temperature for swimming, which is good as it’s still close to 100 degrees in the afternoons. In the evening herds of deer come out of the trees and rocks to graze along the lake, at one point I counted 32. In the morning there are wild turkeys and geese grazing in the same spot. This is definitely a local place, I am the only one without CA license plates. Two ladies stop by to see the tent and ask how someone for Florida ended up here.


Finally I arrive at Yosemite and set out on the valley rim hike. It’s late in the summer and they have not had much rain so all of the famous water features have dried up. Here is beautiful Mirror Lake, just under Half Dome. It’s just a puddle now not even knee deep.


Continuing the hike along the valley rim, Lower Yosemite Falls. There is actually some water coming down at the very top, but it’s about like a garden hose turned halfway on.


On the way out of the valley back to the campground I stop and look at El Capitan. It’s amazing in size and sheerness, despite the picture you have to crane your neck to look at the top. I get out my binoculars and watch a couple of climbers on the wall, about 300′ from the top. You can’t even seem them without binoculars.


Next morning I drive back into the valley from my campground near the west park entrance. It’s a little hazy, but nice view of El Capitan and Half Dome together on the way in.


I’m hiking the Four Mile Trail today, which is actually 4.8 miles of switchbacks going 3200′ up the valley wall to Glacier Point. There are so many trees in the valley it’s hard to get a good view but once I get up the trail near the top it is great.

Looking up the valley with El Capitan on the right.


It is really steep, right here you can look straight down to the valley floor 3200′ below.


At the end of the hike, Glacier Point. Half Dome on the right, North Dome on the left. A great place to sit, rest, and look around although it is mobbed by tourists who drove up here rather than hiked. If you drive I think it’s a 40 or 50 mile detour from the valley.


On the way down I realize there is also a great view of the full length of Yosemite Falls, both Upper and Lower. Too bad it’s turned off.


For reference this is what it’s supposed to look like from here


The 9.6 miles/6400′ round trip ended up taking 3 hours up and 1:45 down.

Second night I could only get a hike in tent site so out comes the $12 Walmart tent


Third day leaving Yosemite out the east entrance into the Owens Valley.


I spend 3 days going down the Owens Valley, it’s very scenic and uncrowded. Although hot on the valley floor there are tons of National Forest campgrounds up against the Eastern Sierra mountains.  First night at North Lake campground outside Bishop, it was actually a little cold up at 9500′ but a very nice spot right on Bishop Creek.


Gray’s Meadows outside Independence, a little lower elevation with great views and another campsite right on a creek. I was the only one in the campground.




Stars were really out that night


A deer came by to visit in the morning.


Manzanar Historic site on the way to Lone Pine. This is one of 10 camps where thousands of Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. It has some very good displays and mock ups showing what life was like back then.


Third night in the Owens Valley in Lone Pine campground at the foot of Mt Whitney (14505′ highest in the lower 48 states). It was almost 7 years to the day that I did the day hike to the summit, that is still one of the hardest I have done. 22 miles round trip, 6000′ up and then back down in 16 hours.  Nice spot to sit and watch the mountains in different conditions.

In the morning I set off across Death Valley on the way to fabulous Las Vegas NV.








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