Home > Uncategorized > Sierra Nevada – traveling up the West side and down the East side

Sierra Nevada – traveling up the West side and down the East side

May 30, 2015

The 13th April, an auspicious day, marked the start of our Sierra Nevada adventure. Why? Because I (S) had toe surgery planned for the end of May, which would cause me to be ‘un-trailered’ for at least 12 weeks, and like the soccer guys, wanted to ‘get my retaliation in first’, and this was the last opportunity to go.

There will be more pictures than text, but some amount of preamble might be fun.

There wasn’t too much planning. We decided that the first night would be at California Hot Springs, and then we would just wing it thereafter. Why there? Because we’d done Lake Isabella multiple times, and this was a different launch point.

We set off, for us, early, at 9am, from San Diego and headed up the I-15, hoping to avoid the crush on I-5, I-405 and the prelude to the Grapevine. Um, no. The 210 was a parking lot, grrr, and on the Grapevine ‘up bits’ we overtook all the laboring commercial traffic, and down the ‘down bits’ they overtook us, so it was a kind of a motoring ballet dance.

Eventually, we filtered off onto CA-99, which was much less intense, then headed east up into them there hills to California Hot Springs.

We had already decided to stay at Quail Valley ‘Recreation Village’ rather than at the Hot Springs resort, which turned out to be a good choice as that latter was closed for RV’s.

Myron, the owner, was a hoot, regaling us with tales of the misdeeds of his long term residents, and his ‘innocent’ retaliation. In one instance, he suspected that a long-timer was stealing his gas. Long story short, he swapped the gas cans for ones with water in. The next day, the long-timer’s car wouldn’t start. L-T’s pals did stuff with the points and carburetor. Myron wandered over and casually asked whether L-T had stolen some of his gas. L-T exploded with indignation. Myron shrugged, and remarked that he’d moved the gas cans and the ones there were now water. Next day, L-T was observed draining his gas tank and lines and didn’t stay much longer at the park.

We were the only transients there. Really pretty, we stayed a couple of nights.

campgroundcreekNext morning, we set off up the hill into the mist and fog. Around the intersection with the road up from Lake Isabella, we encountered a pair of very damp and cold looking Harley riders, apparently undecided about which direction to go. Then the sun came out (or we got above the fog?)

Stopping briefly at the ‘Trail of a Hundred Giants’ for a photo op (we’d walked the trail before),

sqnf1we headed on through the forest. Like almost the entire trip, it is picturesque, almost beyond belief.

sqnf2Starting around Ponderosa, the road starts winding down towards Springville in the Central Valley. If there are any motorcyclists here who have ridden the Palomar South Grade, then this road is like that, but it just goes on, and on, and on, and on.

sqnf3Later, when we returned to Quail Valley, we took a hike around the property, and came across 4 fishing ponds, of which B got a couple of very pretty shots.


pond2Next day, we took it really easy. We drove a mere 75 miles to Horse Creek Campground, right by Lake Kaweah. This once was an Army barracks, but is now an extremely pretty lakeside cg hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers. No hookups, but loads of space – if you don’t like your neighbor, you can just move.

The live-in volunteer camp host was great, and tried to recruit me (S) to come and work there.

Because we have a national Parks Geezer Pass™, it only costs $10 per night.

hccoe1hccoe2hccoe4Simon, cooking.

hccoe3Next day, we set off up the hill into the Sequoia National Park, and Kings Canyon NP, returning via an extension of the Sequoia National Forest.

Again, the ‘Geezer Pass’ saved us $20. I, Simon, probably had a brain fart when I first ‘did’ this park in the last Millennium, because what I remember is completely different from what we experienced. Nonetheless, it was all good. We had fun joshing with the volunteer at the visitor center and did quite a bit of hiking up and down the trails. A side trip into Kings Canyon NP added to the pleasure.

sqnp1sqnp2sqnp3sqnp4King’s Canyon

kcnp1On the way back to Horse Creek campground, we diverted via ‘Hogback Road’. Oh my. That is all. Talk about wild rides. Good job we didn’t have the trailer on the back.

Next day we decamped and headed for Gold Country. We decided to veer from the GPS proposed course up Hwy 99 and headed North on 41. Then, the weirdest thing happened, the GPS insisted on telling us to ‘GO BACK’ to 99, and that it would take ‘FOREVER’ to get to our destination if we didn’t, until we got within a couple of miles from Mariposa, when it said, ‘OK, then, if that’s how you want to play this, you’ve just saved two hours!’ WTF?

We got a bit snarled up in Jamestown after having visited the local Safeway for supplies, but soon enough we arrived at our destination in San Andreas – Gold Strike Village. Big shout out for this place, it’s clean and well-tended. The only problem I encountered was that our neighbor’s water hookup leaked, and I was attacked by mosquitoes as a result when I was preparing a meal on our outside grill.

Next day we headed South back to Jamestown, and it turned out that they were having a wild flower run on the local RailTown steam railway. B is always up for steam trains.railtown1railtown4

railtown2We had to pay extra for this trip as it was a ‘Wildflower Special’, but sadly, there were not many wildflowers around – too dry, too late. One of the state park rangers on the train’s spouse planted some plastic wildflowers…

railtown6And there were other treats..

railtown5 railtown7railtown3Columbia State Park is fun


After three nights in Gold Country, it was time to head out. Up SR49 to Placerville and SR 50 over the top and down the other side to Lake Tahoe. That’s a wonderfully pretty drive, and no problem with a trailer. We encountered an utter jerk who was holding up dozens of others in anticipation of finding a parking spot near the lake, but some folks are resistant to education and learning good manners.

We headed east to Hwy 395 and trundled south through some spectacular country…

NearBridgeport…to arrive at Lee Vining and eye-wateringly spectacularly high gas prices. And wind. Did I say wind?

Next day we headed south to Bishop and the Law museum. Oh my, this is a wonderful place to get an understanding of history hereabouts. Billed as a railway museum, it seems more to document the mining and general way of living hereabouts, with the railway almost as a side comment.

lawmuseumlawmuseum2To Lone Pine, and Boulder Creek RV Park. A lot has been posted about this place at the Lance Owner’s of America Website , and who are we to disagree.

Alabama Hills and Whitney Portal

alabamahills1 alabamahills2 alabamahills3 alabamhills4 portal portal2Postscript: I deferred the surgery, so I’m still, slightly, on two feet. And raring to go for our next adventure.

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