Final Mineral King Weekend

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | 7 Comments

This will be a long post with lots of photos, and then I might run out of things to post about Mineral King for awhile.It didn’t have to be the final Mineral King weekend, because the Park gates stay unlocked until October 25. But, life down the hill beckons, fall is very full of events for us, and we need to close things up when the weather is still good during a season of unpredictable weather.

We have taken on the responsibility of closing the Honeymoon Cabin for the past several years. This is a little cabin left after Disney destroyed the resort in advance of building their ski resort, which never happened. The cabin is now a mini museum of Mineral King history, open all summer to anyone who wanders in. It is at the beginning of the Eagle/Mosquito/White Chief trail.

This is the interior. It is about 10×10′.

After our chores, we had time for a final walk.

Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a juniper tree, not a redwood. Mineral King is too high for redwoods.

The yellow tunnel isn’t very bright this fall.

This deer reminds me of Samson

Cowboy Bert listens to an animated Trail Guy explain something important.

It was a smoky smoky smoky day. There was a wildfire south of us.

My favorite ranger of all time!

These are cottonwoods.

These are juniper berries

And then we made time for one final pass down the Nature Trail. It goes through so many changes in such a short season. . . in July it was packed with all variety of wildflowers. Now, just look at this:


The Captain

Three weeks ago these were goldenrods.

This was an unusual summer in Mineral King for several reasons. Perhaps I’ll make a list for you next Friday.

The Real Columbus Day

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Personal, Photography | 8 Comments

Today, October 12, is the real Columbus Day. In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Ferdinand and Isabella paid for the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. It’s a fine holiday, but it has fallen out of favor.

Fake Columbus Day has also fallen into obscurity. It changes every year, just chasing the 3 day weekend. Only federal and bank employees are aware of it. Postal employees, too.

Who cares?

Careen, Nicole, Kim and I. Happy birthday to us. 

Fall in Mineral King

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal | 5 Comments

Warm sunny fall days in Mineral King . . . a transitional time, torn between 2 places. I could be gardening at home, but I can still be hiking in Mineral King. I’ve been gone much of the summer, I miss home, but the cabin is still open and it is nice up there. 

Choices and consequences, decisions, saying yes to one thing means saying no to a whole bunch of others.

We were up the hill last weekend and these are some fall sights.

Lots of wood, but not enough is split. We have more fires in the stove in the fall and sugar pine burns up quickly.Fortunately, it splits easily.Alrighty, then, let’s go for a walk. (Not a hike – used too much energy swinging an ax? Nah, just lazy.)

I helped Trail Guy close up a neighbor’s cabin – such solid shutters.

The water in the east fork of the Kaweah seems just as low as it did in the falls of drought years.

Very heavy currant crop this year

A neighboring cabin isn’t quite closed for the season, but has that “almost over” look.

Tall grasses and a more yellowish coloring on things say “Fall”.

The cottonwoods are turning.

I love this tunnel of yellow.

Very low flow of water at Soda Springs, tall grasses, that golden look over all. . .

Pink?? What is this? Dried out something-or-others. Definitely not golden.

Just three months ago it was too scary to cross this stream (Crystal Creek).

A stock party lost a bag of grain along the trail.

A hiker lost his group, and Sierra the Trailhead Ranger is on her way to escort him back while Trail Guy demonstrates the path that we saw the search helicopter take. You can tell it is fall because he is wearing long sleeves.

8 Things I Learned in September

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Lessons, Personal, Thoughts | 2 Comments

Still biting us after a year, although he is much larger now, Samson the Bengal wanna-be.

These are life things I learned mostly in September, although a few may have spilled over from late August.

  1. An Americano is espresso with hot water added. I can’t tell the difference between that and a cup of black coffee. My nephew is employed by Starbucks and informs me that Americanos suck. Not sure why this is his assessment.
  2. A dog will eventually eat food it doesn’t like rather than starve; a cat will become anorectic. Samson actually ate some dry food for the first time in the past couple of months, so maybe his tastes are changing; he is a year old now.
  3. Some people never do figure out where they fit in personality profile tests; I may be one of them. Just finished reading Anne Bogel’s Reading People, which is an overview of different personality typing tests; it was helpful, even if my main conclusion is that I don’t know who I am. I’ll keep learning. . .
  4. No matter how much I use InDesign and Photoshop Elements, they just keep confounding me. Adobe and Apple have been compared to a couple after a bad divorce; I come down on the side of Apple every time.
  5. If bread doesn’t rise very well, it will take longer to bake; conversely, if it rises very well, it will get done much sooner than expected.
  6. A battery powered drill can also be called an “impact wrench”–say what? Must be man talk.
  7. Crystal Pepsi is a thing. It tastes good. I almost never drink soda of any kind, and a friend gave me one of these to try. I have no idea if it tastes like real Pepsi or not. Because I don’t drink soda, the sugar and caffeine really packed a wallop!
  8. Drawing lesson for me: when shading by layering with pencils, with a heavy hand, you’ll get your darkest blacks by beginning with the blackest pencils; with a lighter hand, you’ll get your darkest blacks by ending with the blackest pencils. Maybe. Haven’t cemented this yet, even after years and years of drawing and teaching drawing.

You Know You are Middle-aged When. . .

Posted by on Sep 27, 2017 in General, Personal | No Comments

Rapid Change*, pencil drawing, title indicative of life as a middle-aged being

An older and wiser friend reminds me from time to time that life is like a roll of toilet paper–the closer to the end, the faster it goes.

I’ve been thinking lately that you know you are middle-aged when. . .

. . . you prefer hiking uphill to downhill because your knees kill you going downhill.

. . . you choose not to watch a movie because you don’t want to shuffle 3 remote controls and don’t understand why it is even necessary.

. . . your pastor, doctor and the president are all younger than you. (Not so with the current president, in case you were wondering.)

. . . you go to your class reunion and can’t find your friends among all the old people.

. . . you know the words to the orchestrated songs in the grocery store.

. . . you notice young people driving too fast instead of old people driving too slow.

. . . you recognize the word “update” as a euphemism for “complications and trouble ahead”.

Do you have anything to add to this list?

*Rapid Change is available for sale here.


Reflect, Remember

Posted by on Sep 11, 2017 in Personal | 2 Comments

Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Personal, Photography | One Comment

Extra birthday wishes to Sylvia, Pam, (oh no – is yours the first or the second of Sept.?) and Ron T.! Happy birthday, friends!

Today’s post is for Marilyn, AKA The Captain. Just some photos of new flowers, and a get-well wish along with a birthday greeting.


(Remember when we found Western Eupatorium??)

What is this?



What is this?

What is this?

What is this?

What is this?

What is this?

What is this?


Western Eupatorium

Hiking Mineral King – Eagle Lake, part 2

The rock section of the Eagle Lake Trail is very challenging if you were just expecting a little walk in the woods. Sometimes you have to wiggle your feet between some boulders, sometimes you have to just guess where the trail might be, sometimes you walk on a slab of granite, and none of it is very easy.

There are rewards: this is “Heather”.

After the rocks, there is another section that I forgot about. It isn’t too hard, but you have to watch your step because of all the roots. Trail Guy said there needs to be more “trail checks”, which are things that catch rocks and dirt when water is flowing down the trail; otherwise, all the fill dirt washes down the trail, exposing the roots of the trees (none of which show in this photo- you’ll have to trust me on this.)

Eagle Lake is one of 4 lakes dammed by the Mt. Whitney Power Company so they could control the water flow for producing electricity. Trail Guy is heading out over the dam; doesn’t it look like a lovely inviting path?

Welcome to Eagle Lake. Wish I’d brought some M&Ms. We earned them.

Trouble is, now we have to retrace our steps.

I think of the Eagle Lake Trail as “roots and shoots”, because there are zillions of roots to trip over, and all those rocks required lots of shooting with explosives to make the trail. The evidence is in those star-ish shaped dealies on the rocks.

“Ridiculous!”, said Trail Guy, about the condition of the trail.

The vertical meadow below the sinkhole and above the trail junction to White Chief was still full of a variety of wildflowers.So interesting that Eagle Lake is the most popular Mineral King hike destination, and it is probably the very worst trail. Our conclusion is that people like the name, have no idea what they are getting into (it’s only 2.4 miles one way – how bad could that be?? Try 2+ hours to walk it and then decide for yourself!), and most people want to go to lakes.

Mineral King Wildflowers for Carol

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | No Comments

Happy Birthday, Carol! These flowers are for you today.

Hiking Mineral King – Farewell Gap

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | No Comments

Two days after Trail Guy went to Farewell Gap via a loop, we returned together with our new best hiking buddy Jessica. The point of the hike was to see Sky Pilot, an elusive high-elevation flower that we’ve never seen anywhere except Farewell Gap (not that we go anywhere outside of Mineral King. . .)

Here are my photos of that trip.

The flowers are still great at the “Junction Cafe”. This time we didn’t stop here for lunch but just kept heading up and up and up.

A previously-ignored or never-before-noticed, not-in-the-books yellow wildflower

This reminded us of marigolds, and if I can’t find it in any book, I will simply title it myself: Mountain Marigold.

I think this is the same thing, looking down from the top. Most of them had 3 sections of petals.

Stonecrop? Nope, that’s yellow. This is an unknown high-altitude succulent.

More unknown high-altitude succulents.

Blue Lips are still in bloom up high. This is late for them!

Identify yourself, Unknown Shrub!

The lupine up on Farewell Gap have white accents, and the penstemon is a color I’ve never seen it in before.

Sky Pilot – THIS is why we hiked 6.7 miles one way, uphill.

I was thinking of this hat as a Lupine-head, but Jessica wore it in honor of the Sky Pilot.

I felt sort of tired, and thought, “How disappointing, I’m out of shape”. It later occurred to me that middle-aged people who are truly out of shape don’t hike 13+ miles in one day at high altitudes (or low ones either).

Sorry, Trail Guy – no one will come by to give you a lift back down to the cabin.

Jess and me with the Golden Trout Wilderness/Forest Service land behind us.

Jessica and me with Timber Gap in the background.

Franklin Creek continues to flow strongly, but it is easy to ford now.