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Posts tagged ‘West Coast’

a walk in the woods

Different than we had imagined it, our visit to the giant sequoias proved to be even better than we had expected. Had we gone rafting as originally planned, we would have only had time for a brief side trip to see some of the star trees in Sequoia National Park. Instead, we wound up spending the better part of a whole day walking among the giants in a secluded corner of the park that had more than 15,000 mature sequoias. By comparison, Mariposa Grove in Yosemite only counts with a couple hundred sequoia trees.

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fortuitous encounter in the night

After two days in the desert we returned to the Sierra Nevada, spending a weekend camping with our friend Cam in Kings Canyon.

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a home for desert rats

Long before Death Valley was declared a national park, visitors flocked there in droves to see the home of one of the most singular celebrities of the Roaring Twenties.

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quick brush with death

We rose before most of the other tourists, but not before the sun, which had climbed over the Amargosa Mountains on the eastern side of Death Valley and was busy baking the air.

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too hot to handle

The air, hot and thick like a woolen blanket, enveloped us as soon as we opened the car doors. It may have been close to 8pm, but the temperature at the aptly named Stovepipe Wells hovered close to 100°F. If we had jumped the gun in the Sierra Nevada, visiting Yosemite and Lake Tahoe a few weeks before the official start of the tourist season, then we were definitely late to the party in Death Valley.

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the scenic route to Death Valley

We traded in the cold of the high sierras for the searing heat of Death Valley. D had planned out a day-long, multi-stop itinerary for our drive from June Lake, which included a short hike, a few scenic stopovers, and a visit to a museum that memorializes one of the most shameful and painful chapters in U.S. history.

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hidden gem

Our last hike on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada was to Agnew and Gem Lakes. We took the Rush Creek Trail, ascending for just over two miles up a rocky, moderately steep path that took us high up the mountainside while offering great views of Silver Lake below. Had we stayed on this trail long enough, it would have eventually connected with the Pacific Crest Trail, passing through the Ansel Adams Wilderness and taking us all the way into Yosemite. This of course would have required quite a lot longer than a day hike.

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in search of solitude

Although we had to backtrack a bit from June Lake to reach Lundy Canyon, the drive was well worth it. D had stumbled on a few pictures while researching our trip, and though we knew we would not get the canyon’s famous fall colors, it still promised plenty of majestic scenery. Various hiking sites described it as one of the best of many magnificent canyons along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, combining spectacular mountain views with a rich mining history.

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June Lake

Few places offer a better home base for exploring the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada than June Lake, where we camped for three nights. Less touristy than nearby Mammoth with tons of great hikes and located just a short drive away from hot springs in Bridgeport, it’s a wonder the place does not receive more hype. We would have completely missed it if not for a recommendation from the father of one of our friends.

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touching the wild

Although we did not see much, our full-day hike through the mist high above Yosemite Valley remains the most memorable one we did during the three weeks we spent in California. Hiking the Tallac trailhead above Lake Tahoe is a close second.

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