Dick's Adventures of 2020 - Part 4

  
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Adventures of 2016         Adventures of 2017          Adventures of 2018          Adventures of 2019

2020 Part 1          2020 Part 2          2020 Part 3          2020 Part 5

Sycamore Wildlife Area          Blossom Patrol & Eagle Watch          Chinese Ditch & Buffin Meadow          Gray's Mountain Camp          Ahwahnee Hills
 
Sycamore Wildlife Area

On April 28 my daughter Teri and I returned to a familiar spot, the Sycamore Wildlife Area adjacent to Pine Flat Lake. With a predicted high of 87 in the valley, we thought this  would be our last foothill hike of the season. However, the low foothills are still bright green, and I'm not quite ready to stop going while it's like that.

Our destination consists of two former campgrounds and a picnic area that have been closed for decades. However, you can legally go around the gates and walk on the deteriorating asphalt reads. At 1,200 feet, this location offers a sequence of wildflowers as spring progresses. We also see deciduous trees budding and then leafing out, and bull pines putting up long new shoots

   
Thistle blossom New growth on bull pine
     

We had both hiked at one or more of the three sections two or three times this year, so we had a good study of which flowers appear first, next and last. On an early trip Teri and her mother saw massive patches of baby blue eyes. On this latest visit, the dominant species were common madea and several varieties of brodiaea, but nearly every plant was still hanging on with anywhere from two to a dozen "sample" blooms.

This included the long-lasting fiddlenecks and filaree, and three or four baby blue eyes and popcorn flowers.

   
A patch of common madea Climbing brodiaea winds around itself and surrounding plants
      
Harvest brodiaea Purple brodiaea

One of the most numerous flowers on this hike and when we went to Goofy Smith Flat April 16 were the globe lilies, which in the past have seemed to be fairly rare. We also saw a dozen examples of an unknown blossom with an intense magenta color. A later careful study of the foliage convinced me that this is a rare variation of farewell-to-spring.

      
Globe lily Apparently a variation of farewell-to-spring
       

At he final stop, the old picnic area, we checked out the eagle's nest we had spotted when we were there on March 26. I took a picture of the nest, but did not realize until I enlarged the photo at home that the eagle was sitting on it. You'll need to look closely at the upper left of the picture, and maybe download and enlarge it with your photo viewer program.

Not surprisingly, there were a few fallen trees across the roads, some that we could get over, and some where we had to go around.

    
Hard to see but there's an eagle sitting in this nest Fallen trees blocked our way in several places
    

Along the road by the lake, the farewell-to-spring created big pink patches on some of the hills, and we got a closer look at them next to the road. We also saw some of the spotted variation of this flower at the picnic ground.

     
Pink patches of farewell-to-spring Farewell-to-spring close-up
    

The weather was warm as expected, the first day I hiked in shorts and t-shirt. However, we got an early start, and were back home well before the high temperature set in.

This year was proof of something I have observed several times in the past: The amount of rain needed for a good wildlife year is much less than what is needed to grow crops in the valley. Flowers got started late, and our total rainfall was well under 50% of average, but wildflowers were spectacular during the final month and a half of spring. The reservoirs are relatively full from last year's good rainfall, so we can weather this dry year.

--Dick Estel, May 2020

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Blossom Patrol & Eagle Watch

Each time I have visited the Pine Flat Lake area this spring, the beauty of the place has drawn me back again. If my count is correct, I have made eight trips there in 2020. My solo outing on May 4 may well be the last, since temperatures are getting up into the 90s at home, and the places we hike are mostly at 1,000 feet or so, only two or three degrees cooler than the valley.

I set out with two goals this time, neither of them involving much in the way of hiking. My first stop was to see and photograph a spectacular flower known as blazing star. I had first encountered this 4-inch blossom along the Edison Point Trail a few years ago. At the same time, I noticed that they also grew on the rocky bank along Trimmer Spring Road near where the lake first comes into view. Teri and I stopped at this spot on our way home last time, but the flowers were not open.

This time there were plenty of plants covered in blossoms, and I found a place where I could get up close and be well off the pavement. I had planned to hike in on the Edison Point Trail to where the plants grow if necessary, but did not have to. The plants grow two to three feet tall and look like some kind of thistle, but there are no thorns. I took a number of photos, then drove on up the road.

   
Each plant puts out a dozen or more blossoms A close-up look
    

The grass in the lowest part of the foothills had dried out noticeably in the six days since we were last there, but up by the lake it was still pretty green, and the flowers are still doing great. All along the road the two species that are most common are farewell-to-spring and madea.

   
Pine Flat Lake is close to full Farewell-to-spring dominate the Sierra foothills
   

My second goal was to try and spot the eagles that have a nest near the old Sycamore Creek Picnic Area, where I've hiked several times this year. We had first seen the eagles on March 26, and got a photo of one in flight, as well as a shot of the nest. However, my Nikon Coolpix doesn't zoom in very far, and the photos weren't that great. A later photo with the bird on its nest was even less satisfactory.

This time I brought my older Canon 35mm digital with a 300 mm zoom lens, as well as my tripod. (This camera is too heavy to carry on a regular basis.) When I walked in to where I could see the nest there was no sign of the big birds, but one immediately flew in and perched in the top of the nesting tree. He (or she) stayed there for at least 15 minutes, allowing me to get a number of photos.

Studying the photos after I got home I realized he was sounding off, probably cussing me out for entering his territory. Next I drove up to Big Creek, which I'll discuss later. On my return trip I decided to walk in and see if I could catch the eagle on the nest. He was indeed there, but immediately flew up. He flew back and forth, giving me a royal cussing out, so I didn't stay long. But before I left I managed to capture shots of him in flight and a good photo of the nest with at least two very large babies.

When I left, he flew to the top of a dead pine right beside the trail and watched to make sure I was really leaving.

    
This magnificent bird posed on the pine for a full 15 minutes He called out frequently, no doubt saying bad things about me
  
On my second stop, he flew back and forth complaining about my presence Young birds in the nest
    

In between my two photo sessions with the eagles, I drove up Trimmer Springs Road to where Big Creek runs into the lake, then up the dirt road along this creek. This is an area where we used to camp in the springtime, although it has become badly littered in recent years. I went about two miles to where a fairly good size tributary comes in from the west, and set up my chair and TV tray in the shade to enjoy my lunch. I walked around this area a little, but even with my two trips into eagle territory, this wasn't really a hike day - my total was just over a mile and a quarter.

Along the road many wildflowers were still abundant, including yerba santa, a small bush. I spotted one flower, penstemon, for the first time this season. The weather was nice - not quite 80 degrees, with a nice breeze.

    
Big Creek Yerba santa

On our various hikes this spring my daughters and I have seen just about every wildflower that we're familiar with. An unofficial list includes the following:

Baby blue eyes, birds eye gilia, blazing star, blue dicks, buckeye, bush lupine, buttercups, chaparral, Chinese houses, climbing brodiaea, clover, common madea, cream cups, dogwood, dove lupine, elderberry, farewell-to-spring (3 variations), fiddlenecks, fiesta flower, filaree, foothill gillia, fringed redmaids, globe lilies, harvest brodiaea, Indian pink, manzanita, Mariposa lily, medium ground lupine, milkweed, miner's lettuce, mule ears, mustang clover, owl clover (white & red), penstemon, phecelia, popcorn flowers, poppies, purple brodiaea, purple vetch, redbud, shooting star (white and pink), Sierra star, succulent (unknown variety), tall ground lupine, western wall flower, white lupine, yellow-throated gilia, yerba santa and several we could not identify.

If you'd like to see photos of most of these flowers as well as many from other regions, visit my wildflower photo albums, Page 1 and Page 2.

Instead of returning home via Belmont Avenue as usual, I turned north at Trimmer Springs on Maxon Road. This road joins Watt Valley Road and eventually becomes Ashlan Avenue when it drops down to the flat country of the valley. Along the way there were a lot of places still green, with tons of wildflowers, and enough typical foothill scenery to last me till next time. Although it was a long and fairly slow trip, I drove a total round trip of only 91 miles.

--Dick Estel, May 2020

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Eagle Postscript

On May 13 I picked up great grandsons Colton and Jack, and we drove to Pine Flat so they could hopefully get a look at the eagle. We took the more scenic Watt Valley Road, which brought us to the lake at Trimmer Springs. From here it was only a short drive to the Sycamore Picnic Area.

Since their natural tendency is to run down the trail ahead of everyone, I cautioned them to stay behind me and be very quiet. Of course, I'm pretty sure the eagle was aware of our presence as soon as we got out of the car.

We had not gone far when I spotted him sitting in the dead bull pine next to the trail, where he had watched my departure nine days earlier. We got a good look at him through binoculars and the mandatory photo. As we approached his tree, he flew off and was not seen again.

    
Having visited the Upper Kings with their parents several times this spring,
this was not the first time the boys were photographed on this gate
This conveniently located dead pine gives the eagle
a perfect spot to keep an eye on intruders
    

As we walked in a little farther Colton asked to use my camera and took a couple of nice shots of the lake and surrounding hills.

Next we drove on to Big Creek where we found a shady spot to have lunch, then made the two hour trip back home. It was very special to learn later that Colton had written a report about the day's activities for school.

  
Chinese Ditch & Buffin Meadow

Kevin, the weatherman on ABC 30, said the high temperature would get close to 100 degrees on May 7. It seemed that our foothill hiking days had ended, so I suggested a couple of short, easy hikes I had done several times before near Fish Camp, at the 5,000 foot elevation on Highway 41, about two miles from the Yosemite National Park border. We took separate vehicles to Big Sandy-Jackson Road, then Teri and Jackie joined me in my truck for a a two mile drive over the dirt road to Chinese Ditch. This artifact was built during the days of the Madera Sugar Pine logging operation, and diverts water from Big Creek to Lewis Creek. The ditch bank serves as a trail, and offers relatively flat and mostly easy walking about 3/4 mile to the diversion dam.

Although we have enjoyed the flowers, oaks and shrubs of the foothills, we were all glad to once again be among dogwood, ponderosa and sugar pines, firs, and cedars.

   
Dogwood blossoms near Sugarpine Ripe cones on a sugar pine tree by the ditch
    

It was also a good day for birds, or at least one bird. We had a fairly long delay along the highway due to tree removal, and got out to look around. I spotted what appeared to be a bird of some kind in the top of a dead tree. I took several photos, but when I zoomed in on my computer, it was just the dead top of the tree; apparently air currents had given the appearance of movement. 

However, Jackie spotted a colorful bird in a tree on the opposite bank of the ditch, and an Internet search identified him as a western tanager. I think I've seen them before, but usually in flight so it was hard to get a good look.

     
Do you see the birdie? Neither did we The western tanager provides a bright spot among the evergreens
     

Where the ditch flows out of the creek, there is a series of cascades, topped by a nice waterfall. Above the falls the creek makes a series of 4-inch drops down over a wide, flat granite base.

    
Falls on Big Creek, just below the diversion dam Big Creek above the diversion dam
     

There are few wildflowers at this location, but we did see dogwood, Indian rhubarb, and the usual unidentified species. There are also some man-made features by the road, including an old cattle chute, a corral, and rail fencing. Where the trail starts is an old cabin which I photographed on my first visit in June of 2018.

   
Indian rhubarb often grows right in the water These might be currants - any suggestions?
       
Dick by the old cattle chute Rusted hinge on the corral gate
         

When we completed this mile and a half walk, we returned to the highway, drove north through Fish Camp about two miles, and turned east on the Mt. Raymond Road. Where the paving on this read ends there is a snow play area, now being used for camping. We left Jackie's car here and drove in a little farther, then took a rough side road I had walked on while camping here last November. We set up our chairs and enjoyed a much-needed snack, then drove in a little farther to the junction of Mt. Raymond and White Chief Roads.

Jackie did not feel like any more hiking, and set up her chair in a nice shady spot, while Teri and I walked in a little ways to an old side road that leads into Buffin Meadow.

    
Jackie takes a break Buffin Meadow looking southwest
       

On three previous trips to this area I had explored parts of the Buffin Meadow Loop Trail, which starts at the horse-rental business on Big Sandy Road, and winds through the forest as well as into the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. We crossed the meadow west to east, stepping over and around wet spots. On my first visit in June of 2018 there were a lot of flowers, but it was too early for them this time. Corn lilies, a common plant in meadow wet spots, were just getting started, two or three inches tall.

After leaving the meadow, it was about 100 feet through the forest to the trail, which then goes up to the main road. The trail was buried in pine needles and did not show much sign of recent use. We went only as far as the road, then back out to the truck, walking a little over a mile and a tenth total. After Teri and Jackie got back to her car, we drove back down Highway 41 and stopped to visit my other daughter Jennifer and husband Rod, about five miles above Oakhurst.

Driving out from their place to Road 620, I enjoyed the day's final bird watching, as a small flock of wild turkeys made their way into the trees from the road. All in all it was an enjoyable outing, made special by the chance to spend time with both daughters.

--Dick Estel, May 2020

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Gray's Mountain Camp

In many ways, this outing felt like a return to normalcy. However, getting to our destination was anything but normal. Teri and I planned to head for the mountains on Thursday, May 14, while Johnny, Brittany, Colton and Jack would join us the next day. I drove my truck and Teri had her Toyota Avalon.

Big Sandy Road, which leaves Highway 41 at Fish Camp, eventually joins the route that starts out as Sky Ranch on Highway 41 about three miles above Oakhurst. Big Sandy mostly parallels Big Creek, and we planned to find a campsite along the creek and then send GPS information to Johnny with a device he loaned us.

We drove in on Sky Ranch Road to the junction. We had gone only 100 yards after turning west on to Big Sandy when we encountered a mud hole, mixed with snow, that did not look passable with a passenger car. We got out for a look, and beyond this place was more mud and snow. We returned to Road 6S10 and decided to check out Fresno Dome Campground, just a short distance away.

Like all Sierra National Forest campgrounds it was closed, with a locked gate. However, there was a tent set up, and a way in from the road just past the entrance. We drove through the campground, and decided to take a chance on camping there. We had not unloaded much more than our chairs when a man arrived, unlocked the date, drove in, and informed us that the campground was closed (we knew that). He was the camp host, there to prepare the place for eventual opening, whenever that might happen. Although we explained that we had everything we needed (including a toilet) and would not leave anything behind, he simply continued to say "the campground is closed."

Teri and her sister and mother had been in the area a week earlier, and knew that people were camping at other campgrounds that were closed but not gated. I discussed this with the host, and he said "all campgrounds are closed." I then asked him point blank if he would be checking any other locations. He said he would not, but made it clear that he was not giving us permission to camp. I replied that I was not asking him for permission, nor would we hold him responsible if someone else kicked us out of another campground.

Of course, it is always our preference to choose locations that are not official campgrounds, but it seemed that dozens or maybe hundreds of people were anxious to get out, and any promising spot was already occupied. We finally drove to Gray's Mountain Campground, where Teri had been for Mother's Day, found only one other party camped there, and set up in a nice spot beside Willow Creek. We drove 77 mile to get there, taking a total of five hours. I used my reverse gear more that day than in a normal week, backing up from side roads that proved impassible after a short distance, or had no place to camp and no turnaround point.

To summarize a long story, we stayed at Gray's Mountain for three nights, with no one telling us to leave, and with nearly every site being occupied for at least one night. Along with dozens of off-highway vehicles cruising past the place, and various groups stopping for a few hours to have lunch, it was as if no pandemic had ever happened. It was a great feeling to live normally, even for just a few days.

   
Willow Creek near our camp Days were warm, but at night we were glad for this modern fire ring
      

Teri and I set up our individual sleeping areas (her tent, my cot under the stars), had a late lunch, and walked to both ends of the campground. In the upstream end we talked with the other camper present at that time. He had left Palm Springs, where it was 110 degrees, earlier in the month, and was exploring the western slope of the Sierra on his way to Washington.

The downstream end of the campground is across the main road, and going that way leads to a nice meadow. Teri and I had hiked here in 2016, but had missed one of the more interesting aspects of the meadow - several sequoia trees, planted a hundred years ago or more. While not in an existing grove, this terrain is normal giant redwood habitat.

We also encountered a few wildflowers, including one delightful white specimen which we could not identify.

   
Young sequoia trees in the meadow A delightful, low-growing, unidentified flower
      

As evening came on, we debated whether to have a fire. We usually go to bed fairly early, but well before dark it was getting quite cool, so we piled small branches and commercial kindling in the fireplace, got a fire going, and kept nice and warm until we went off to bed.

I've gone back to my old ways of 30 years ago, sleeping on a cot outside, although it is a high end bed, far more comfortable than the lightweight, narrow thing I used back then. With a good sleeping bag, I was warm and comfortable despite a low of 33 degrees.

The next morning we eased into the day, having hot tea followed by breakfast. At some point we walked down toward the meadow, and as we were heading back toward the road, we saw the Upshaw's red Toyota pickup turn into the camp. We hurried back and welcomed them to our first family gathering in a couple of months.

   
Colton and Jack Colton gets a wood-chopping lesson
     

Johnny has been a serious fisherman for many years, and has now got not only his sons but also Brittany hooked on the hobby (Ha - hooked!). In this location, fly fishing is the best approach, and the family fished off and on, getting into the water but not removing any fish.

So that the parents could do some fishing without the enthusiastic accompaniment of Colton and Jack, Teri and I walked with the boys to the downstream end of the campground, while Johnny and Brittany went upstream.

At the unoccupied camp host site, a tiny creek ran down to Willow Creek, and Colton rode his bike across a makeshift bridge, and through the creek itself, while Jack jumped across a dozen times or more. He stuck the landing every time until number 15, when he ended up wet but unhurt in the water.

    
Johnny and Colton Jack, the happy fisherman
    
Due to the slope on the left side, it was easier to ride across right to left  "Grandpa! Take a picture of me in the air," said Jack

At camp, Colton developed a special bike track, riding down a steep access road to the camp, up a small hill, around several trees, and back to the campsite. Jack did not bring his bike, but chased Colton and also got turns riding the "big" bike.

The Upshaw's tried fishing again late in the day and and began having good luck. Both boys caught fish during the trip, all of them small, and all released back to the creek to grow some more.

We had a nice campfire, with everyone helping to stir it and add wood. Johnny and Brittany took the boys to the tent and stayed with them till they fell asleep, then returned to the fire. They usually sit up fairly late, and I stayed up later than any time since New Year's Eve.

    
Johnny Upshaw, fierce fisherman This young brook trout was returned to the creek
      

The next morning we started up the fire, having had a "warmer" night of 35 degrees. Teri had to leave that day, but after we ate breakfast we all walked through the campground and past the meadow to a rough trail that runs along the creek. At this location there is a series of cascades known as Soquel Falls. The creek falls about four feet, then over a full six-foot drop into a nice swimming hole. The adults had no desire to get into the water, which so recently had been snow, but several teenagers from another camp were wading cautiously in, and finally sat down in a shallow spot. Above the cascades, Colton and Jack rolled up their shorts and waded in, but I didn't see anyone get in as far as waist deep.

   
Soquel Falls on Willow Creek Colton in the creek
       
 
Despite his enthusiastic wading, Jack kept his pants dry Dick and Teri on the trail from the falls
    

When we got back to camp we said our goodbyes to Teri, and the Upshaw's set out to drive to Fresno Dome, a 8,000 foot formation jutting up out of the surrounding forest land, for a hike. The trailhead is about two miles beyond Fresno Dome Campground, with some snow and mud in between. There's not room for three adults in their truck, and I didn't want to drive through the snow, so I stayed in camp. I had hiked to the top in 2018, as well as several times back in the 1970s and '80s.

They had a good time, despite having to walk though some snow on the lower part of the trail, and making their way across a wet, swampy place on a narrow log. Everyone made it up and down without incident. They explored some of the nearby roads, and returned to camp with the truck covered in mud.

   
Crossing a swampy spot on the Fresno Dome Trail Out of the trees and into the rocks
      
Brittany, Jack, Colton and Johnny on top The Flying Upshaw Brothers and the muddy pickup
       

The remainder of the day went pretty much the same way as the previous one - fishing, biking, walking around, reading and eating. Again I stayed up past 11 p.m., and enjoyed a comfortable night with the low temperature dropping only to 40 degrees.

I always enlist the boys to help me load my truck, since they can climb into it and all the way to the front of the camper much easier than I can. This time the "help" devolved into the building of a fort, with the boys hiding behind boxes and camping equipment. Of course, when the time came, they put everything in the right place.

   
Before the loading Colton is back in there somewhere
       

With everything loaded up, we said our goodbyes and departed, having enjoyed a very special family outing in the Sierra.

--Dick Estel, May 2020

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Ahwahnee Hills

This was my second trip to this location in 2020, and my fourth overall. However, it was made special by getting to hike with my youngest grandson Mikie, down from Susanville, as well as Teri, Jackie, Colton and Jack.

After a few very warm days, the weather cooled off again, making this low foothill location the perfect spot.

   
Dick, Jackie, Jack, Teri and Mikie (photo by Colton) Colton and Teri in a field of lupines
      

Ahwahnee Hills is a Madera County park, and offers a mostly level loop trail that goes through huge valley oaks, across a creek, and beside a nice pond. It had been a while since the boys had seen their Uncle Mikie, so they walked with him much of the way, and joined him in an exploration of the creek.

   
Valley Oaks line the trail Mikie, Jack and Colton at the creek
     

As we approached the pond, Teri, Mikie and the boys went down to the edge of water. Jackie and I were a bit farther back, and we saw there was great excitement next to the water as we approached. Colton had spotted a gopher snake partly in the water. We all went down to check it out, and he posed for a while, then turned and came in my direction. I expected him to veer to one side, but he kept coming slowly, whereas normal snake behavior is to get away from humans as fast as possible. Someone said "you might be standing on his house," so I stepped aside. He quickly entered a hole in the bank and disappeared completely, the first time any of us had ever witnessed such a thing. 

   
Exploring the edge of the pond It's always a great day when we get to see a snake
    

Colton took over my camera and took a number of "artsy-fartsy" shots as we crossed the dam and started back to the parking area. As we reached the far edge of the pond, we spotted turtles sitting on a stump. Our wildlife spotting also included bullfrogs in the water and red-wing blackbirds in flight and sitting on reeds.

    
 
Colton's eye view of Mikie and Teri Two turtles on a stump
       
Panoramic view of pond
    

We sat at a picnic table and enjoyed a snack before concluding what will (almost) surely be our last low elevation outing of the season.

--Dick Estel, May 2020

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Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)

    

Sycamore Wildlife Area          Blossom Patrol & Eagle Watch          Chinese Ditch & Buffin Meadow          Gray's Mountain Camp          Ahwahnee Hills

 

Sycamore Wildlife Area

 
Teri gets her stuff ready for hiking Where Sycamore Creek joins the Kings River This wasn't the worst fallen log barrier
   
Remains of a campfire in an old parking spur A nice spring scene Brodiaea and log
 
Last of the baby blue eyes Common madea close-up Dandelion
 
Spotted variation of farewell-to-spring Climbing brodiaea close-up New leaves on a live oak
   
Blossom Patrol & Eagle Watch
    
There are two dozen blossoms or buds
on this blazing star plant
Climbing brodiaea in a live oak Small tributary that runs into Big Creek
   
Farewell-to-spring line the roads
all through the foothills
Penstemon appeared along
the road near Big Creek
Guarding his territory from the intruder
    
   
  Pine Flat Lake by Colton Upshaw  
  
Chinese Ditch & Buffin Meadow
Photos by Teri & Dick
  
An old stump has turned into a natural planter Chinese Ditch Dogwood along the ditch
 
Snow plants function without
the benefit of chlorophyll
A "caterpillar" plant? Teri and Jackie on the ditch trail
 
Ancient, rugged root on the ditch bank Dick in Buffin Meadow Yerba santa on the road to Jennifer's
  
Gray's Mountain Camp
Photos by Dick, Johnny & Brittany
    
Snow plants were emerging at the edge of the camp Dandelions in the meadow An unusual mushroom
   
You can also just ride THROUGH the creek "Let's see, how am I going to get out of this?" Fishing with dad
   
Hammock time with mom and dad Time to relax
   
Johnny goes where the fish are Colton's catch Jack having hot cocoa with Grandpa Dick
   
On the rocky top of Fresno Dome In this section, you just make your own trail Johnny brought back several
pounds of Big Sandy Road
  
Ahwahnee Hills
Photos by Dick, Teri and Colton
    
No words needed Jack with great grandma Jackie Old barn in the park
   
Resting on the bridge Jack and Colton Did Colton direct this pose?
  
Yellow flowers and the pond Poppies by the old shed These lupines are at their peak in the foothills
 
Related Links
   
Pine Flat Reservoir Dick's Pine Flat Travel Reports Sycamore Creek
Trimmer Springs Road Brodiaea Globe Lily
Farewell-to-Spring More Abuot Farewell-to-Spring Blazing Star
Pine Flat Reservoir Bald Eagles Big Creek
Big Creek Road Chinese Ditch Western Tanager
Goat Meadow Snow Play Area Fish Camp Fresno Dome Campground
Gray's Mountain Campground Willow Creek Fresno Dome Trail
A LONG Fresno Dome Hike Fresno Dome from the Official Vista Point Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park
Ahwahnee Hills May 2017 Ahwahnee Hills April 2019 Ahwahnee Hills March 2020
       

 
Travel Reports
   
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008         2009

2010    2011    2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     2018    2019     2020     Other

   
Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
1961 Monterey Jazz Festival Bluegrass Odyssey
   
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
   
2002
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
   
2003
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
   
2004
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
   
2005
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
   
2006
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
   
2007
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
   
2008
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
   
2009
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove   
Hensley Lake Camp
   
2010
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
   Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
    
2012 
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
  
2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment) Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
  
2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 1
Adventures of 2018 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 2
Adventures of 2018 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 3
Adventures of 2018 Part 4 Parkfield Bluegrass 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 5 Northern California Journey 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 6
  
2019
Adventures of 2019 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 1
Adventures of 2019 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 2
Utah National Parks Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 3
Adventures of 2019 Part 3 Parkfield Bluegrass 2019
Adventures of 2019 Part 4 Adventures of 2019 Part 5
   
2020
Adventures of 2020 Part 1 Adventures of 2020 Part 6
Adventures of 2020 Part 2
Adventures of 2020 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 1
Adventures of 2020 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 2
Adventures of 2020 Part 5 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 3
  
Other
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email
   
 

Updated May 29, 2020