Some friends were visiting and had never been to Empire. We planned to go, woke up to horrible smoky conditions, waffled a bit, and then went anyway.
White Chief might be the most beautiful place accessible by foot from Mineral King. Short hike, steep, lots of variety. Any time Trail Guy encounters someone along the trail below the Eagle Lake/White Chief junction, he tells them they will be happier if they choose White Chief.
Here are more photos from our Eclipse Day White Chief walk/hike.
There are more photos, but they were on Trail Guy’s camera because I overworked my battery. Aiming at the sun may not have been such a good idea. . .
More tomorrow? Stay tuned. . .
The eclipse. Big deal. Lots of chatter. Lots of ideas. Lots of rah-rah. What to do about it in Mineral King?
Easy! Poke a hole in a piece of cardboard with an ice pick, get a piece of white paper, and walk to White Chief.
I say “walk” because I elected to not carry a pack or food. My camera was in my pocket, and a water bottle was in my hand. Let’s go!
Since the steepest part of the hike was behind us, we decided to just keep on trucking up the trail into White Chief. The day became very crystal clear.
To be continued. . . tune in tomorrow.
When I got to Hume Lake, I asked my friend if she had heard of the Little Brown Church. This was something I learned about and visited one time in 1978, and since so much had changed, I thought it might be gone.
Nope. It is still there. It is a steep steep steep climb; the signs say 1/2 mile, but it felt farther.
I don’t know when, why or who.
Have one more look at the little brown church with my friend so you can get a sense of the smallness.
See what I mean by “a funny walk”??
Ever heard of or been to Hume Lake, California? I lived and worked there the summer of 1978, and again for a few weeks in maybe 1981 or 1982.
Back then I was unaware of the extensive cabin community, not yet having met Trail Guy or married into a cabin or begun an art business called “Cabin Art”. I knew there were cabins, but they didn’t concern me.
Recently, I had the great privilege and pleasure of spending time with an old friend and a new friend at a Hume Lake cabin. I had drawn the cabin for my friend’s mom, working from photos, but had not seen it in person. I asked my friend if I could have the drawing back to fix, because I draw better than I did in 1995. That will be a subject for another post or two.
Hume Lake is an entirely different type of community than Mineral King or Wilsonia, with some shared cabin community characteristics. It feels like a miniature city, with a National Forest Service campground, the Christian conference grounds with multiple camps, lots of commerce, THE LAKE! OH MY!, and a group of many fancy cabins that go up and up and up the side of the hill.
Have a look at some of the things we enjoyed while there. I have more thoughts and photos than will fit into one day’s post, so instead of Mineral King on Friday, there will be a funny walk at Hume Lake.
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.
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.
Sometimes I have to be down the hill, feeding Samson, watering the yard, blogging, drawing, taking care of business, fulfilling promises. Meanwhile, Trail Guy the Retiree is in Mineral King, hiking and taking photos for me to put on my blog.
His favorite place to go is White Chief. Mine too, unless it is the junction of the Franklin/Farewell Gap trails, or Farewell Gap itself. The lakes might could be, but we don’t go there much so I can’t remember. (I might could go there, but I’ll prolly be down the hill at the liberry instead.)
And sometimes Trail Guy comes home, especially if the Giants are on teevee.
Not the Giants; Samson wants to know why the Giants’ games are blocked out in our zip code.
The Central California Artist, ahem, that would be me, finally had a bit of time in Mineral King and hiked to White Chief with Trail Guy and a new friend named Jessica.
The artist is sore, and she isn’t happy about it.
The artist is happy to have gone to White Chief, and happy to have spent time with Trail Guy and their new friend.
The artist will now shut up and show you the photos. There will be many.
Happy Birthday, Rachelle! May this be the year of new lungs. . .
What do you do when the trails in Mineral King aren’t accessible?
You walk the trails as far as you can. This was heading to Spring Creek, where the water is still too high for maintenance guys to put the bridge in yet. These folks were exclaiming over the snow and the water; I was mucking about in the water, mud and rocks, diverting water off the trail. (I’m 57, going on 12).
This is Spring Creek, taken from as close as I dared get. This is the same creek in my drawing titled “Hard Water”, but that was from the bridge. I’m sure you must be able to tell it is the same creek. . .
We also went looking for things, like Five Spot wildflowers. Trail Guy had noticed large swaths of them from the road by the Tar Gap parking lot, so away we went, off trail, in search of these special little guys.
First, we found Blue Lips.
Looks like a nothing burger of white dandruff on the ground from here. Or, if you are a Heidi fan, it looks like the Alps.
Once again, this is getting to be too long. To be continued tomorrow. . .
Remember, there is a one day drawing workshop at Arts Visalia on Saturday. You may contact them at (559)739-0905 to register.
A few days ago I was in Mineral King and took photos along the road of the abundant wildflowers.
But first, let’s start with my favorite subject to draw and paint, the Oak Grove Bridge.
Look at that water!!!
Wildflowers along the road continue to be prolific. The first photo isn’t technically of wildflowers: these are sweet peas planted by Mary Trauger in the late 1800s.
This post is too long. Hope you made it to the end. Tomorrow, Mineral King will be the subject matter again.
Meanwhile, remember there is a one day drawing workshop coming this Saturday in Visalia.