Sierra Secrets | High Sierra Topix  

Sierra Secrets

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Sierra Secrets

Postby Mike M. » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:02 am

I came across this trip report (http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ome_1.html) the other day from the indomitable Bob Burd and was reminded how vast and full of surprises the Sierra range is. It is easy for us to forget the thousands and thousands of acres of wilderness away from the Sierra crest, particularly on its west side. Peace and solitude are easy to find here, especially early in the season, and there are countless Shangri-las to discover here.

I've been to one such place -- which I won't name -- at least 60 times over the years. It's a great place to go early in the season, before the high country opens up. Not hard to get to, dependable weather, few mosquitoes, exquisitely beautiful. During college, I would stuff my backpack full of books and drive up there on weekends from Berkeley. I continued to make early season pilgrimages to this spot well after college, even after moving up to Portland in the late 1980s. Usually alone, occasionally with a friend or two. I always camp at the same site and have only once come across another party. Then one year, later than normal when the water was low, I hiked up there up with a few days to spare and did some exploring. A few miles upstream from my special place, I came across a sheltered grove of massive pine trees, the biggest I have ever seen -- sugar pine and I think digger pines mixed in with cedars and what look like ponderosa pine. These are the most girthy trees I have seen outside redwood groves. The area is sheltered and well watered and, miraculously, has avoided both fire and axe. Here are some photos:

[rimg]Image[/rimg]
[rimg]Image[/rimg]
[rimg]Image[/rimg]
[rimg]Image[/rimg]
Image
Last edited by Mike M. on Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.



User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby vandman » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:42 am

hey mike for $20.00 or a couple of hot chocolates, I won't tell anybody where this place is...
User avatar
vandman
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:08 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby Mike M. » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:33 am

vandman, what a sad attempt at blackmail!

How about you don't get to use my trusty P&S next time your DSLR breaks down on the trail unless you keep this secret place within a secret place secret?

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby Mike M. » Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:44 pm

There's a creek nearby, with falls and pools. And interesting creatures.

Image
Image

Don't say a word vandman!

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:46 pm

Mike M. wrote:vandman, what a sad attempt at blackmail!

How about you don't get to use my trusty P&S next time your DSLR breaks down on the trail unless you keep this secret place within a secret place secret?

Mike


This reminds me of the days my old website was in operation and I had this one trailless lake mentioned which resulted in some emails from some folks upset that a "secret" spot had been given away (although said lake was written up in a published fishing book--in recent years this lake has been discussed on multiple threads on this board). One of the emails said something to the effect "I'll pay you a pretty good sum of money if you remove mention of -----from your website". I think that was tongue and cheek, but I was never sure.

As with many who have been to the Sierra a lot, I have a good list of "secret" spots. These are the types of places that are rather easy to get to but folks don't seem to know about them. There are plenty of "secret spots" in the middle of nowhere, but that goes without saying, so I don't really count those. The more interesting ones are closer to the car. All of mine except one are off trail and can be easily dayhiked to. I have backpacked to one of them with my young kids twice. Several of them are far enough away (since I moved from the Bay Area to Fresno) that I don't visit them anymore, but I'll probably take the family there someday (my wife has been to all of these places with me in the past). One 'secret spot' lost some its appeal when they stopped air dropping rainbow fingerlings in it. You could actually 4 wheel right up to the bedrock sill that hemmed in that lake and the 4WD spur was but 200 yards of road off of a well traveled 2WD gravel road. I can't say my wife and I never saw anyone at this place, but it was surprisingly hidden. A few miles away was another spot that was 1 mi (last 1/4 mi off trail) from the same well-traveled gravel road. My wife and I never saw anybody there and that lake still has some great fish and offers a lot for not much effort.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby Mike M. » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:55 pm

giantbrookie:

That's a good story. I know some fishermen like that.

But this vandeman guy, he's something else. (He's my youngest brother, always mooching off me.) Last summer his new Nikon DSLR broke on the second day of our trip, so he appropriated my P&S camera and I only got to use it when the sun was high in the sky. When I did get it back, there were blood smears all over the camera body (I'm not making this up). He is dastardly!

Jealous vandman knows where my secret place is but I know for a fact he has never been to the grove of giant trees just upstream.

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:13 pm

Not on the same scale at granite domes or groves of trees, but I know there are many, many archeological sites that are known but not advertised. While there are some up in the high country, others are within feet of major roads, left undisturbed so as not to attract crowds (and more importantly, thieves and vandals).

I've always liked coming across those spots where you can tell humans from a drastically different culture went about their business 100's or 1000's of years ago.
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
User avatar
Carne_DelMuerto
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 296
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:43 am
Location: Auburn, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby SSSdave » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:05 am

You seem to saying to be saying more than just secret places but rather favorite secret places that one has actually visited several times.

I have been to a long long list of superb places off the beaten trails that few if anyone else has been to that I probably will never return to. As a photographer, if I nail what I think is a reasonably strong image at a location in the backcountry, I'm not inclined to return years later because I also have a long long list of places where I know a great potential image exists but haven't yet nailed such. That is because many landscape situations require special weather conditions at a certain time of year at a certain time of day that mean one is probably going to need to be lucky and keep going back several times.

Here are a couple secret places. The first I've been to twice. If it was even one tough day's hike from a trailhead, I'd have visited several more times. Because its a grueling multi day effort to reach and I ain't a young man no mo, and already nailed this, I don't need to go back. But its a magic alpine place, much more than just these two foxtails.

Image

Then there is this volcanic landscape:

Image

We never see any other footprints there because water sources are an effort to reach. Thus a dry site one carries the water bag to. Actually many of my secret places are away from lakes, streams, trails, use routes, or favorite peaks because people rarely even explore such places. Well we've slept within one hundred yards of this photograph probably ten times. Not in a tent but in a bivy underneath a magnificent ground sprawling old juniper. I love sleeping right near places I want to shoot dawn, sunrise, sunset, dusk. Unlike the first location, this area is an easy hike from the road for me. Well I most often night hike it. There is no trail and it is sort of spooky in places.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby quentinc » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:33 am

Dave, beautiful photos.

Funny, despite having spent hundreds of days in the Sierra, I can't really think of any "secret spot" I have. I have favorite places that I can pretty reliably visit without anyone else being there, but no real secrets.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby balzaccom » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:35 am

I'd also suggest that there are times of the year when very heavily traveled areas of the Sierra are neglected. One of our secrects is to visit high traffic areas later in October or November...when we see many tracks, but no people.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:50 am

Wow, fabulous. The Sierra secrets are un-ending, never-ending; there aren't enough life times to see them. West side, east side, tops of ridges...

The volcanic landscape picture is unbelievable. I love the volcanic areas.

Thank you all for this thread.
User avatar
East Side Hiker
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:10 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Secrets

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:49 am

Carne_DelMuerto wrote:Not on the same scale at granite domes or groves of trees, but I know there are many, many archeological sites that are known but not advertised. While there are some up in the high country, others are within feet of major roads, left undisturbed so as not to attract crowds (and more importantly, thieves and vandals).

I've always liked coming across those spots where you can tell humans from a drastically different culture went about their business 100's or 1000's of years ago.

Yup. Was hiking once through mostly viewless forest, on the first day of a 2-day hike into a spectacular location, and at one point it looked like there might be enough thinning of the forest over to the right so I could see into the big canyon to my south. So I cut off trail a few yards to take a look. No view...but there was a rock with at least a dozen mortar holes. Very cool discovery.
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 10 guests