Monday, March 30, 2015

The N..Fk of the American River just above the Ponderosa way bridge in Placer Co. is one of the great sights you will see from this more or less primitive river crossing. This spring we crossed from the Foresthill Divide road to Wiemar  and enjoyed the steep decent with sheer drop-offs on the way down to the bridge.
Approaching the river from the south you will see the first Indian Pinks as you approach the bridge followed by Lupine,Redbuds,and whites and pinks of your choice After crossing the river the world turns yellow as Poppies by the millions cover every square inch of the hillsides.
 The tributary creeks are dry, with fewer butterflies, but the wildflowers are better than ever.
You could even take the 2 mile hike downstream to Codfish Falls, if you think there might just be some falling water when you get there. Well worth spending a couple of hours early or late in the day.


Monday, March 9, 2015

The Sierra Without Snow

by Jim and Shirley White

For more than 20 years during the latter part of March, some of my friends and I would ride the summit ski lift at Alpine Meadows.Ski Resort and ski west into the wilds of the Granite Chief Wilderness area.We would ski down the backside of Alpine,cross Five Lakes Creek, ski up and pass Elephant's Head on our left, cross over Mt. Mildred, and then ski down Chipmunk Ridge to the French Meadow Reservoir  where we would be picked up by a friend. It was a three day trip most of the time. One time because of a big storm it took us five days.  The snow would be from five to thirty feet deep. Never was the lack of snow a problem. The last time I looked at the calendar it was March, so where is the snow this year?

We drove into Hell Hole Reservoir yesterday to see for our selves. As we approached Hell Hole we met Jason, the Placer Water Agency winter tech who spends the winter, usually snowed in at Hell Hole. When I asked how the winter had gone, he remarked " what winter?". There was maybe 3-4 inches of snow on the road where we met and Jason said the snow lasted about 200 yards down the road and that was it! No winter, no snow. The road between Hell Hole and Chipmunk Ridge did have maybe 4 in. of snow, but of all things, there were deer tracks heading up hill, climbing to their summer range. You can see Mt. Mildred which is 8398 feet elevation in this picture with only a patch of snow to be seen.
Here is Lt. Ken Nilsson Calif. Fish and Game  checking the refuge boundry on our trip back in the 1970's, with six feet of snow beneath his skis.How the world is changing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015





For a mountain pass like Donner Pass, I don't think we could call this event a snow storm.
Maybe a few snow flurries. Back in the 1950's and "60's few would remember this event as a snow storm. The above picture where we were skiing along the crest from the Benson hut to Mt. Lincoln a storm would produce cornices like you can see in this picture, with the potential of avalanches to follow. That is what we liked about the 1950's. Three to five feet of new snow during the first few days of the storm, with more to come later in the week. There was a feeling of excitement and adventure back country skiing in those "real" snow storms. We had to learn how to find safe routes, camp using natural shelters, learn that storms were the reason the mountains were so great. Once you got into shape each year it was easy and fun. Somehow the Sierra is not so great this year, I guess because of the lack of good snow storms. I took the Donner Lake pictures just after this last event.
I remembered how cold and hard the ice was on Donner Lake when we skied across the lake in late February one year during the '50s.Of course if you look real close there is still some beauty to be seen. But us "old timers" can't feel that excitement or feelings of adventure we felt during the storms of old.