Hiking Mineral King – Empire Again

Posted by on Sep 8, 2017 in Mineral King, Sources of inspiration | 4 Comments

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.

Smoke from the Pier fire (near Camp Nelson) blew over Farewell Gap during the night.

Even more smoke visible down canyon toward Three Rivers. Are we supposed to be breathing this stuff??

Trail Guy is quite happy that there is still flowing water, even in early September. That green makes me happy.

Like father, like daughter. A pleasure to hike with these 2 friends!

This is semi-sorta the view in the mural I painted for the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers History museum. It’s also an excuse to show more of the green.

That isn’t Sawtooth – I don’t know its real name but it is often referred to as “Sawtooth’s Shadow”. Mostly I was pleased to see some blue sky.

It was a little hard to tell if we were seeing smoke or a coming storm, but the thunder told us the truth.

Trail Guy to Techie Friend – “Wow, that’s cool.” Techie Friend to Trail Guy – “Does your Jitterbug take photos?”

This old wagon road up on the side of Empire never fails to amaze me. Those old miner guys worked so hard and found no gold.

Father-daughter hiking team

The others headed over to inspect some old mining debris; I headed toward the trees because the rain was coming and I wanted a head start.

City Girl was THRILLED by the rain and hail!

Trail Guy prefers a garbage bag to the heavier alternative of a poncho.

Is that Gandolph down in the bunkhouse ruins??

Rain stopped, so we followed the tram line back down to the trail, past the ruins of an old ore bucket.

The rain cleared up the air, somewhat.

Hiking Mineral King – White Chief Part 2

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.

What is this flowering shrub??

What is this teensy darker version of a Baby-Blue-Eyes??

What is this unknown yellow flower??

Slow but handy way to fill a water bottle.

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. . .

Hiking Mineral King – White Chief

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!

Neither Trail Guy nor I had ever used a device like this. We both decided that if a “pinhole” (ice pick sized) is good, then why not a larger hole?

The answer is that the small hole works; the larger ones do not. We have a theory on why this is, but it will take too long to type.

I couldn’t tell the difference between light from an eclipsed sun and light when high clouds are obscuring the sunshine.

See the light in the ice-pick-sized hole? The moon kept eclipsing the sun for awhile, although I was hard-pressed to tell without the device.

Trail Guy insisted that the light was different from just a cloudy day. He’s observant and artistic like that; me? I just bumble along.

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.

When this thick cloud passed over the sun, I aimed my camera at it. Does this look like an eclipse?

To be continued. . . tune in tomorrow.

Funny Walk at Hume Lake

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”??

A New-To-Me Cabin Community

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in Going Places, Sources of inspiration | 4 Comments

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.

This dining hall is much fancier on the outside since I worked in the kitchen here.

Look at these happy women, about to spend 3 happy days walking, talking, eating, and just enjoying time together in the mountains.

This is Ten Mile Creek. It is one of 2 streams that feeds Hume Lake.

This dam was built in about 1909. When I was working here, to walk around the lake meant some scrambling and bush-whacking.

Now there is a nice trail all the way around with this fancy bridge at the dam end where we used to have to go rogue.

This is one of the new camps (since 2000) – a yearlong school of learning and serving. I’d like a do-over so I can go here.

A really nice looking “cabin”

I love me some blue. . .teal too.

This is a friend’s cabin – we went exploring to find it, and it fits my mental idea of a real cabin.

We spent a fair amount of time just talking – these are some wise women with great humor and authenticity.

There were downed trees EVERYWHERE, including in the lake. I don’t know why they were in the lake. It began its life as a timber pond, but that was over 100 years ago.

This is the view from Inspiration Point. My friend said she only drives to this point, but we walked there together, sort of by accident since we were out exploring the cabins.

I think the sunshine is on the Middle Fork of the Kings River in the distance, beyond the dam at the end of the lake.

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.

Trail Guy’s Favorite Mineral King Hike

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.

California Artist’s 1st Mineral King Hike This Season

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Mineral King, Sources of inspiration | 2 Comments

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.

No bridge across Spring Creek, too scary to cross where the bridge belongs.

We cross below the normal place, where the creek spreads out into 3 manageable sections.

Great flowers along the trail, including these larkspur.

First view of White Chief canyon of the season – no flowers, since it hasn’t been snow-free very long.

Surround Sound in water!

Trail Guy is inspecting one of the sink holes.

Here it is from higher up. Two other people are curious. 

We were snow free until the end of the middle section of the trail. This is where we turned back.

There were fingers of running water where green has begun.

I was reluctant to leave the surround sound of the water.

There were several obstacles in addition to the missing bridge.

These brave and strong Park employees went for it at the bridge crossing.

When Mineral King Trails Aren’t Accessible

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. . .

Hard Water, pencil drawing of Spring 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.

Blue Lips wildflowers must have been named by Captain Obvious.

See? 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.

Captain Obvious, on his wild naming spree, must have been delighted to discover these Five Spots.

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.

Wildflowers on Mineral King Road

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.

Blazing Star

I don’t know

I don’t know, even closer

HUGE dandelions

Yellow-throated gilia (pronounced “Jill-ee-uh”)

Ceanothus, wild mountain lilac, or if you were on a road crew with Trail Guy, “ant bush”.

Flannel bush, AKA “Fremontia”

bush poppy

More I don’t knows

Farewell to Spring; some years, you can see them almost all summer as you gain altitude through the season along the road.

Bush monkey flower

Penstemmon, hugely more vibrant in person than in photos

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.