|Nice hiking boots Nico|
Day1My last trip into the Wilderness was a three day backpacking trip which was pretty crazy but amazing. This time I was going to live the life of luxury in the field. I packed the truck with all of my fancy camping gear; two chairs, a table, a Jepson manual, a stove, pots and pans, an ice chest full of delicious bounty and much more.
On the last trip with Travis, a Jeep drove by us on the PCT/4x4 road. Since that trip he has tried to convince me that I could get the field truck down that rugged road. Therefore, I was going to attempt another go at it. Thankfully Caitlin has had a lot of off-roading experience, from 10 years of field work on her belt.
When we reached the Wilderness we drove up Horse Canyon Road and parked the truck near the microwave tower. We ate lunch, then walked down a portion of the 4x4 road to get a feel for its terrain.
As we were preparing our lunch, Caitlin opened the ice chest and quickly noticed the delicacies in it. She then said, "you brought protein shakes too. We're like astronauts of field work."
After lunch we both agreed that the road could be conquered. Caitlin was a great help navigating us down the steep rocky road. When we reached the top of the plateau, the 4x4 road flattened out and it was smooth sailing from there. We were greeted by a thicket of healthy beaming Fremontadendron californica. It was breathtaking!
|Blue skies and yellow flowers!|
|Caitlin, Nico and Big Mama Jeffrey Pine with its little ones|
|We made it to the cabin!|
|Our sweet campsite|
Day 2The next day Caitlin, Nico and I rolled out of camp and headed into the Wilderness to collect plants. We ascended a peak and had one of the most amazing views of the high Sierra, Domeland Wilderness and Owen's Peak. We decided we would visit pockets of exposed soil, rock outcrops, forested drainages and climb a large rocky outcrop. As we were hiking though the wilderness it was very apparent that the peak bloom was over. A lot of the plants were completely finished and the grasshoppers and deer clearly were eating away the vegetation. I was a little saddened to find this out because the last time I was out in the wilderness, it was doing so well. However, I must face the fact, that the peak bloom is over. On a positive note, there was not a single sign of grazing in the heart of the Wilderness.
|Caitlin leading the way to Boulder Canyon|
|Evidence of Native peoples|
|Selaginella covered ground. Dry Seep|
|Lotus crassifolius, the brightest foliage of them all|
|Old shovel artifact|
|Pine trough, for mining or cattle?|
|Row, row, row, your boat|
We had an amazing pasta dinner, which Chul designed for us. It was delicious! Also, it was exactly what we needed to replenish our burned calories. Unfortunately, this time of year, there are fire restrictions in the entire Sequoia National Forest boundaries, due to the danger of extreme fire conditions. This meant that we had a campfire-less night and oh boy, it got so cold at night! Thankfully our sleeping bags served us well.
I originally wanted to explore the southern section of the Wilderness near McIver's cabin. My plans were thwarted when Caitlin and I had a serious discussion about our dismal finds. We decided we should check the highest point in the Wilderness, Skinner Peak, to see what the conditions were like there. We packed up camp and drove over to the turnout where the PCT almost meets Horse Canyon Road. Once at the turnout, we geared up and headed south along the PCT towards Skinner Peak.
|Along the PCT looking northwest|
|Along the PCT looking east towards Horse Canyon (road)|
There was not much happening along this section of the PCT. All of the plants were crispy and past due. We did make a couple of collections, but I feel like I was 2-3 weeks too late. We hiked and hiked and hiked. And finally when we reached a point where we decided to eat (way past lunch time) we found a magnificent Hesperoyucca in bloom.
|Caitlin and the Candle|
|Seriously jealous of the nicely clean bathed truck|