Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Interesting Bodie Story at SF Gate

I just came across an interesting story about the ghost town of Bodie at SF Gate. Bodie is the abandoned mining town (and California state park) east of the Sierra Nevada between Bridgeport and Lee Vining in a particularly inhospitable part of the high desert. The story does a fine job of relating the difficulties of living there in the winter, claiming that by some measures it is has some of the roughest winter conditions in the lower 48 states.

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March 23, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Interesting Bodie Story at SF Gate

Drive to Fix California State Park Funding

A Tom Stienstra article at SF Gate reviews an initiative to fix the gross funding problems with California State Parks. The governor and the legislature have used this California legacy as a gambling chip for the past couple of years, and it has to stop. The parks are too valuable to the state in so many ways to risk their health.

February 21, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Drive to Fix California State Park Funding

Left is Right. Up is Down. In is Out. And Schwarzenegger to be honored for protecting state parks!

According to the LA Times California’s incompetent lame-duck governor who threatened to close most state parks, later backed off and only wanted to close some, and eventually played a huge cut in park funding as a positive thing…

“… will be honored Oct. 29 with the National Park Trust’s Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award in Washington, D.C. He won “for his leadership and innovation in the protection of public lands in California and his lifelong commitment to children’s health and to connecting them with the outdoors,” according to a statement by the group.”

How tremendously embarrassing for everyone concerned.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Support California State Parks

The Governator of California, among a number of other bizarre recent “decisions” has recommend closing almost all California State Parks. This is just plain nuts for a whole bunch of reasons. (How do you close a public park? how do you protect the parks from vandals and marijuana growers and off-road vehicles? What happens to valuable and sensitive sites like Bodie? Why close the parks that produce more income and taxes than they cost to run?)

Of course, given that he is also in the process of laying off tens of thousands of tax paying public employees, reducing support for education in the state the already ranks 47th in the nation for per-student k12 education funding, swiping money from local governments… and much more… it is hard for some to get worked up over parks.

But please do get worked up. And then share your opinion. One first step is go go here.

June 4, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Big Basin Quick Hike Today

This afternoon I headed over to Big Basin for a few hours of hiking and photography. (This evening it occurred to me that I’m, well, lucky to be able to drive a bit more than an hour and hike among coastal redwoods.) I arrived at the park in the early afternoon to find that a) it was quite crowded, and b) it was quite cold. Although the rest of the Bay Area is experiencing unusual (and record) warmth, in the bottom of the “basin” it was cold enough that gloves and a hat were called for.

I parked and headed up the trail through the “creeping forest,” where I stopped a few times to photograph various sights in the forest. After hiking in the outbound direction for about an hour and a half, I reversed course and headed back to the trailhead and then home.

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, Places, Trails | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Big Basin Quick Hike Today

A Brand New State Park…

… to me anyway. This morning I visited Pacheco State Park at the summit of Pacheco Pass between Los Banos and Gilroy. I’ve driven past here for years on my way to/from the Sierra, Death Valley, Los Angeles, but only turned off the road here briefly once a few years ago. This past week I read a post about wildflowers at this park, and I decided to check it out.

I was on the road early enough this morning that I arrived at the park before the sun was up – so I decided to first take a quick trip down to the shoreline of San Luis Reservoir to check out a photo I’ve had in mind. Didn’t work, so I headed back up to the pass and turned off to the park. A short distance up the road from Hiway 152 I took the turn-off onto the short dirt road to the parking lot at the start of the trail to Spikes Peak and many other places. There was only one other car there when I arrived!. This trailhead is – at this time of year – in a beautiful green meadow area with wildflowers just coming up.

Because I was carrying my camera equipment my hike was rather slow since I needed to stop frequently to unload and set up my tripod and camera and various lenses. Before I topped the small saddle at the far end of the meadow I had already stopped two or three times to photograph oak trees catching the first morning light.


Two Oak Trees, Morning. Pacheco State Park, California. March 16, 2008. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Although the hills and grasslands of central California have been starting to turn green for a few weeks now, the impossibly green season is now underway, with grasses coming up like crazy along with all sorts of other vegetation and many wildflowers. I stopped frequently to check out loads of flowers, though it wasn’t easy to photograph them due to extreme winds.

Eventually I wound my way up onto a high ridge along the crest of this portion of the Diablo Range, with extensive views in all directions. To the south there was a bit of snow on somewhat higher peaks; to the west I could see a few clouds forming under the marine air influence; to the north the burned areas of Coe Park were visible with Mt. Hamilton beyond. But the real treat was to the east – green, folded, oak covered ridges in front of me, the San Luis Reservoir beyond them, and then across the wide Central Valley almost the whole Sierra Nevada range was visible on the horizon.


From Pacheco to the Sierra. Pacheco State Park, California. March 16, 2008. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

I continued on along the ridge – in astonishingly strong winds – until I finally reached the “summit” of Spikes Peak. It is the tallest spot on this ridge, and it affords quite a view – but there were higher peaks in several directions. After a quick jaunt back along the ridge and then down to the parking lot the way I had come, I was back at my car by noon.

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Places, Trails | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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