12 April 2014

Signs of Spring on Mount Laguna

March 2014

Dry winter in Southern California has kept nature in alert. Few rains, and snowing on mountains, has brought some help.

Wanted to explore mountains and observe were there any signs of new life in nature.

Packed daily stuff into a backpack and headed to Mount Laguna recreation area in San Diego East County. Meadows lied on about 1600 meters above sea level. There's been few snowfalls in region. Storm in February brought more rainwater to mountains than near the coast.

Took a familiar route by hiking, from S1 highway on to the trailhead, and followed Sunset Trail to a Water-on-the-Woods pond.  Immediate sight was positive, there's more new, fresh green everywhere; new grass, tiny leaves on trees.

Birds were really active, singing loudly. Many plants had small flowers in them; yellow, white, red, you named it.

Ducks did their washing habits on pond, splashing water all over.  Ground squirrels watched carefully movements of humans.  Ravens cried loudly.

From the pond continued towards north, ascending little higher. Here opened a panorama view towards west.

After reaching the northern end of the Laguna Meadow, headed back south via Big Laguna Trail, staying on meadow.  Mountain bikers, lots of them. Been here with an MTB and it's pure fun, nice single track trails.

Big lake had some water and hundreds of ducks and other water birds.  Looped the lake south side and headed back north, now on the east side of the meadow.

Saw a strange sight, a single Raven tried to dismiss two Red-Tail Hawks would have thought to be opposite. It did succeed indeed.

Took a short cut to a Little Laguna Lake. Lack of water. A nearby camping area guaranteed some children which were playing on the meadow.

Dozens of Ravens were packed on old pine trees, making hell of a noise.

People hiking on groups were common view.  Had nice chats, really friendly people. Learnt new hiking places and especially waterfalls, rear views on Southern California.  Had a lunch break under old pine tree.

Took a trail back by crossing the meadow from south-east side.  Fresh green grass pushed through old one, Bright flowers made it looking even better.  Any stone on the meadow had a ground squirrel or two, seemed to be their neighborhood.

Nice 20km hike proved there were clearly signs of spring, on ground, on rocks, on trees, in the air. Hope there'll be more rain coming before summer.

Epilogue:  After two days of the hiking trip, the same area was covered by few inches of snow, though melting away soon. How versatile mountains can be.

A Few Snapshots

On Laguna Meadow

I wouldn't say it was cloudy

Green green grass

Trail Running

Mountain Biking


A Queue

Plants, Trees

New leaves

A young Cedar Tree gets vital beam of daily sunlight


Majestic colors

Almost hidden

Beautifully blooming in white

Fresh new cones


Glad that we humans have refrigerators and freezers

In bloom


Mountain Chickadee


These tiny little ones knocked trees louder than woodpeckers

Acorn Woodpecker

Like a form of another branch

Brewer's Blackbird

Dark-Eyed Junco

Steller's Jay

Western Bluebird

On border

A single Raven cried out Red-Tail Hawks

Other Living Creatures

Fresh grass near trail, dogs knew it

Believe me or not but this Lizard did push-ups!

Kiss Me Kate

22 March 2014

Hiking on Sequoia National Park

March 2014

Big Redwood trees, coniferous forest, snowy top mountains, snow, deers. These were on must-see list when entered to Sequoia National Park from its south entrance (another bless for the annual pass). Although this was one of the most frequent places for getting black bears in sight, wasn't really hoping to have any interference with them.

There's been really dry winter in Southern California. Tried to buy tire chains from one of local shops on Three Rivers. Local chap didn't sell them to me, claiming I wouldn't need them (but it was the law in California I insisted!). Nope, didn't get them, he asked me to save money for the next winter and get them half price from Walmart.

Sequoia NP didn't have much of snow either even on 2000 meters except some spots here and there. Thus, lack of snow allowed to enter places which were usually closed during winter months.

Had a quick visit on Giant Forest Museum, General Sherman Tree and walked a Big Trees Trail just to get a first touch on grand old Sequoia trees, huge trees. Some of them were more than 2000 years old, respective age for trees.

Then jumped into another place, Moro Rock, which was now open.  Did a quick climb on its top. 300 degree view was something one should experience.

Then to the main topic, hiking on High Sierra Trail. Sun was shining, clear blue sky, temperature somewhere +15. Started from Crescent Meadow. Warnings of carrying and storing food against bears were striking.  Jumped into High Sierra Trail which headed east/north-east. The trail stayed on safe side on a steep mountain slope. Sequoia trees were not in sight, instead, massive pine trees with a few cedar trees conquered scenery.  On the right hand side opened a view towards snowy top mountains. There was a massive valley in between.

The trail was quite flat, no major ascends or descends.  After approaching a turning point to Wolverton Cutoff Trail, accidentally looked up on slope on lefthand side. How lucky, two mule deers were laying on ground, staring at me. They didn't bother camera clicks, thanks!

Stayed there awhile and then continued until the waterfall where took the Wolverton Cutoff Trail. It started to ascend quickly reaching soon about 2400m level.  Stopped one of the massive cliffs to had a lunch. Nothing wrong on scenery indeed. Little birds were curious about my lunch; sandwiches, nuts and biscuits.

After lunch continued and took a shortcut to the Trail Of Sequoias.  Massive old Sequoia trees were back in sight.  The trail descended to Log Meadow, a second of two meadows. Visited Tharp's Log and continued to Crescent Meadow.  About 20km hiking came to its end.

Can't wait to get hiking on Wilderness part of the Sequoia NP.

Some snapshots


Sequoia Trees

Folks on Big Trees Trail

Big Trees Trail

Burial Tree(s) on High Sierra Trail

A tiny little Sequoia tree surrounded by snow

Moro Rock

On top left, a spot for sightseeing

On top of Moro Rock

Moro Rock, see people on top?

High Sierra Trail

Oh well, 60 miles to Mount Whitney

Rough trail

Never know what's behind the corner

Pines and Cedars

Trail covered by needles

Big Mountains

Cannot be measured against

A fine old Cedar tree

Trail would have continued somewhere there ...

A little brother, or was it big

Mount Whitney is somewhere behind these


Cute they were, how lucky to spot them

Crescent Meadow

Creek end and dead trees

John Muir said these as "Gem of the Sierras"