Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California

If you appreciate truly ancient, bizarrely beautiful trees, make a point of visiting the Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountain range of the Eastern Sierras. These dense, tough trees can live thousands of years. The oldest recorded tree nearby is over 5,000 years old. That's one tree; 5,000+ years old. Some are only 4,000+ years old and there's plenty of middle-aged centuries-old trees as well. Our trip covered more in full, here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Devil's Postpile and Rainbow Falls - Mammoth Lakes, California

Be sure to visit these two natural wonders. Rainbow Falls contains an actual rainbow within its waters. Devil's Postpile National Monument is one of the largest columnar basalt formation in the world. More about this trip, including bristlecone pines—the oldest living organisms on the planet—on the blog, here. (Bristlecone pine post coming soon.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lassen Volcanic National Park - Lakes and Sky

A couple shots of some of the lakes you can drive and hike to in Lassen Park.

Shadow Lake (a couple hundred steps away from Terrace Lake)

Summit Lake in the rain - you can drive right up to it

The Cafe at Mineral Lodge in tiny Mineral, California

Nice people, good eats, vintage pinball

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Burney & McCloud Falls, California

Burney Falls is the 129-foot-high result of multiple outlets of year-round 42-degree spring water, bursting forth from under the Earth's crust for our edification. A spectacular experience!

First glimpse before descending into the cool valley.

The road to Burney Falls is paved with many stones.

Well worth a visit.

Nearby McCloud Falls has three levels of falls and good swimming. Easy access, either by walking or driving to the three conveniently located parking lots for all three falls. The trail is an easy uphill slope along the river. But watch out for bees. One stung me on the lip, which was weird. Perhaps it was a wasp. Anyway, it was aggressive, and helped me build some character.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bumpass Hell - Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

When visiting Lassen Park, take time to hike down the narrow rocky incline to the geothermal wonder that is Bumpass Hell. Bubbling mud and aquamarine pools of water await, along with steaming fumaroles that hiss and roar, like a giant underground tea kettle that someone left boiling on the stove. Avoid serious injury and stay on the boardwalks (thank you to the crews who constructed and maintain those, by the way). Enjoy the sulfurous scents as you descend into an alternative geological reality.

More on our trip to Lassen on my other blog, here.

Bonus: a boiling mud pit from the Sulphur Works site right off the main road near the south entrance of the park. Just pull up your car and watch some mud boil.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hummingbirds Feed and Fight

Nature's fighter pilots.

Hummingbirds! These fellas, and some ladies are feeding at the Mill Creek Inn near Lassen Volcanic National Park. They're territorial little hellions.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Death Valley National Park, California

Some photos from our April, 2014 trip. It had rained the night before and there were actual puddles (two that I saw, about the size of a manhole cover) at Badwater Basin, lowest point in the United States. There's a snail in these sporadic puddles, that exists nowhere else on earth. I studied the nearest puddle earnestly, but spied no snails. It has been an exceptionally dry year here in California and I think the snails are hiding in the rare mud.

More on our Southern California desert tour here.

Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level) and the Devil's Golf Course—both former lake beds from several thousand years ago, now coated in salt and mineral deposits.

Mesquite Flat sand dunes, about 120 feet tall.

Natural Bridge and Marble Canyon.

Furnace Creek Resort features the lowest point for golf in the U.S. (214 feet below sea level). Date palms in the background. When traveling through this desert region, be sure to try some fresh dates—delicious.