Friday, August 14, 2009

July 31st, 2009

How lucky I am! One of my clients called and invited me to climb Mt. Whitney.
Tom had reserved for a group of 9, but he only and three other mountaineers who had committed. So I was given the rare opportunity to climb in Summer. Many times I've sent in my date requests on March 1st as required, but was never granted a Summer date. (Mt. Whitney is so popular, trail/hiking permits are issued by lottery.)

We met at the campground at Whitney Portal. Bear warnings were posted and one visited the camping table of Tom, Janet, Melissa and Rita. No harm was done.

Tom had been the trainer and guide for my fellow hikers. It was their first summit attempt. Tom said they were dedicated and trained hard. It showed, all three of course made summit and back in one piece. All four of us felt our legs for days afterwards, but it was a "happy pain".

It was incredible that Janet, Rita, and Melissa after only 8 weeks of training mastered this arduous journey. Here were three accomplished women, true Champions. And Tom, who tirelessly offered support and encouragement to them, a kinder trainer I cannot imagine. It was wonderful to be on the trail with all of them. There were times when I thought, "this is only the way up, I also have to go all the way back down!" But most of the time it was grand, the beauty of the different terrain breathtaking and not because of the altitude. The lakes, water falls, rocks, flowers, and even the masterful created trails were enough to feed the soul for a long time. Along side some rock walls were seeps that created oasis of fern- and- flower gardens. I saw a Pika skittering beside me, feeding on vegetation.

From my camera I noted the time we arrived at the different "mile posts" :

We started with headlamps strapped to our heads at 3:45 am. It was very dark, the moon had set a long time ago. Forded two streams in the dark, heard mysterious rustling beside me and in the light of my head lamp found myself 10 feet away from a friendly deer.

Dawn 5:44

Sunrise at 6:07

Sun on trail 6:08

Mt. Whitney bathed in sunlight 6:18

Wayside Meadow 7:24

Consultation Lake 8:26 and break for filtering water and rest before the switch backs.

Trail Crest 11:06

Leaving Trail Crest 11:56

"The Windows" 12:39 PM

Keeler Needle 13:25

Summit 13:56

Leaving Summit 14:40

Lone Pine Lake 20:03

Car 21:30

Tehachapi and home 12:45 AM

Already I have half forgotten the rocky, tough trail behind the needles after we crossed Trail Quest. (The most difficult to me.) The views of the Sierra Nevada mountains were so grand, they left us all speechless at first. And I cannot wait until October when I will be up there once more.

July 7th, Mt. Langley

Whenever possible, I like to climb a mountain for my birthday. This year it was one of my favorite hikes, Mt. Langley. You cannot see it from highway 395, it is just about 500 feet less in height than Mt. Whitney.

The trails are good, but at the summit of New Army Pass one has to contend with a long and high snow cornice. I was able to climb up it, but had to find another way down, not having a rope or crampons and pick. From here the trail is practically non-exsistant, but if you know where your heading, it is no problem.

Wildflowers grew in the sparcest rocky ground, way above tree line! It felt so good on the summit, I could have stayed there! The beauty of nature all around me and being able to be there was the best present I could ask for. Mt. Whitney rose in the west.If you are not wanting to climb a mountain, try to just hike to the lakes. It is not crowded there, the terrain is magnificent and from the trailhead to the lakes it is a comfortable 3-hour hike. Just don't carry too much. Minimize! Take your nordic walking sticks, your knees will thank you. Permits are needed for overnight trips.

Elk in Bear Valley Springs and July 4th Celebrations of 2008 and 2009

It is truly like living in a park here in BVS! July 5th, early in the morning we drove to the far end of Deertrail. Friends had told me about the new-born elk twins they saw and I wanted to see them too. Lucky us, we found not only the entire family, but also the bull-elk who protected his family.

As he saw more cars he came down the hill from foraging and moved the herd away. There were sounds exchanged among the animals. As more cars came driving by, the male became concerned and so was the mother of the twins. She was showing concern and so he went back to walk accross the street with her and the kids. Then, as the rest of the herd and one elk baby showed the same concern, one of the elder cows returned to the remaining herd and "talked " to them.

After some exchange, I could clearly descern communication of some sort, they all followed her. Meanwhile, the teenager elk were watching from up the hill.
They were grand! I posted both year's parades, as I missed some participants this year. Thank you all who participated.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Celebrating Mutti's (Mom) 86th Birthday in Germany and the arrival of baby Stella Hofmann

Late May I flew to Germany to celebrate Mutti's birthday. It was a good visit, too short as usual for both of us. Mutti is still in her own home, tends her own flowers on the balcony, makes jam for the entire family and while she no longer hikes 6 kilometers three times a week, she still is mobile enough to go to the village baker, butcher and magazine shop. For Mutti's birthday she asked to visit a small town where Vati recovered from being shot in the war. The castle you see has formidable walls and the spikes were part of a 3-gate system to ward off enemies. The church is a place for pilgrimages. In the photos you'll see cover the entire vacation which also include time with family, our newest addition Stella, born April 17th 2009 to David and Nadine Hofmann. Now Mutti is a great-grandmother and very happy. It took 26 years for our little family to grow! My sister Eva and I were able visit the Black Forest for one day. It was glorious. The farmers in Germany are paid by the government not to spray chemicals on their hay meadows and since the wildflowers have returned and I think even the cows are smiling at the variety of native grasses and herbs available to them. We hiked, collected herbs for teas in the winter and had a wonderful time talking and exploring new hiking paths. Mutti also wanted to visit her favorite pilgrimge place, Zwiefalten, decicated to Mother Mary. This was another long day trip. We lit candles, admired the interior as well the exterior, were treated to an incredible Glockenspiel. The small, crystal clear river that meandered through the monestry grounds had trout in it. Afterwards we had a cappucino at the local bakery before the long drive home to mom's house. Some of the photos depict my sister's 300 year-old farm home where we gathered to celebrate being together again.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring in the Tehachapi Mountains

Hiking on the Black Oak Ranch with permission I was able to see what Bear Valley may have looked like before it was developed. Please enjoy the views.

This time of year is perfect to hike cross-country and on our trails in the open space and wilderness areas. The recent rain will bring more wildflowers and prolong our green grasslands. I like the canyons especially where you find wilderness at its best. Towering rock outcroppings, meadows, ferns, creeks that are not dried up yet, live canyon oaks with their spreading canopy, reaching-to-the-sky pines... A perfectly natural scene around every corner. Be prepared to climb over fallen trees, take water and make sure you tell someone where you are planning to go and when you expect to return.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hiking and exploring Red Rock Canyon, Lake Isabella area below the dam and west of the river and driving the Bodfish road.

A long day trip, but where else can you see geologic wonders, wildflowers, rivers, meadows, trees, and natural wonders all along the road? My sister is here visiting from Germany and she as I appreciate the wide-open spaces and natural beauty of the area. We packed a picnic lunch, the dog, plenty of water and food for Tashidog as well. Our first stop was Red Rock Canyon where we hiked for 2 hours, until it got too hot for Tashi. The road to Isabella is best this time of year with all the pastures green as emeralds, cows happily grazing and the large cottonwood trees framing the boundary between green and rugged high desert-mountain terrain.
Flowers are everyplace. The lake was low and a few campers lined the shore. Once below the dam we crossed over the river to the west and rested on a secluded spot on the river. We found evidence of Native American occupation in many places along the river. The polished rocks are like sculptures. The river was slow, so Tashi was able to take a swim. (On a long leash.) In the back-country the oaks are just beginning to leaf out and vast areas of bright yellow Golden Fields spread beneath them, mixed with the first Evening Snow opening after the sun dropped lower on the westerly horizon. On the way home we chose the Bodfish road that winds up the mountain, passes historic Havila and will give you white knuckles if you mind steep drops. All along the way we were rewarded with views of meadow after meadow of flowers. As we dropped into beautiful, green Walker Basin. The road again rose and here we saw what we first took as fields of snow. The “snow fields” actually turned out to be areas covered with the delicate star-shaped flowers: Evening Snow! We watched the sun set, back lighting the vast oak woodlands in their Spring Green. This is open range country, so smile back at the happy cows, slow down and enjoy. A wonderland right here in Kern County!

Hiking among the Poppies at the Lancaster/Palmdale Poppy Preserve

Most of the people go to the Visitor’s Center, but I prefer to go out where no people and pavement distract me from the breathtaking beauty of the flowers. I take Willow Springs Road to 135; turn to the west (towards Highway 5) to the preserve sign. Turn left. Once you park take care to look where you walk. Birds are nesting on the ground and snakes are present occasionally. They move away if you give them a chance. Arrive after 10 am and before 4 pm, as the poppies “close shop” without full sun (on a windy day as well). Once-in-a while you will see yellow rather than orange blooms.