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This was a mostly driving trip on back roads east of the Sierra and in the White Mountains. We took advantage of the 4WD the rental agency gave me. Map(s) of perambulations below.
Red Rock Canyon, carved through an old pumice flow. Very light fluffy light red soft rocks. First you see isolated weird weather carved boulders and outcroppings, then the road drops into a slot canyon just wider than the car and winds through it for a while. Lots of obvious gouges in the soft pumice-rock where people misjudged turns. Worth a side trip if you are in the area.
Silver Canyon Road, this is the fast way up from the Owens Valley to the White Mountain Ridge...at least, if you have a four wheel high clearance vehicle. Half a dozen deep fords, very steep, then very steep on sandy tilted slabs of bedrock, road is rough, but not impassably so. You really want low-low for coming down. Very dramatic views. Vertiginous...never mind actually looking over the side!
Schulman Grove of Ancient Bristlecones, we did a loop that visited the old mines, then climbed up the wet side where the trees are healthier looking, but much, much younger. Then descended through the older groves on the East side of the ridge. They all look incredibly old, but how do you tell the oldest ones? By how much the soil has eroded around them.
Some dramatic storm and sunset views on the way to the Patriarch Grove where we camped. After sleeping fitfully, we decamped and drove down to a more sane altitude (Grandview).
Sunday, drove down the main road through Big Pine, back up to Bishop and once again off the main roads to take dirt roads up from the Owens River, up the Volcanic Tablelands to Crowley Lake. After a obligatory stop at the Long Valley Hot Springs, we drove on to Mono Lake and visited the South Tufa (where the water level is still obviously rising, YAY!!!)
And, once again, made it back to San Francisco in time to hit Ebisu and get some pretty food!
The weather was mostly good, with a few showers on the White Mountain ridge.
Map of trip route, route in red (Saturday) and blue (Sunday)
Detailed Map of Chalfant Valley Area (200K)
White Mountains and East Side Valleys / Robert Parks /
firstname.lastname@example.org / revised Aug '04