It seems my son is providing all of my recreation lately.  This time, the camping adventure was in Cisco Grove off of Hwy 80 and just before Kingvale where the huge Cal Trans winter maintenance station is.

There were three families and three rigs, the same ones as in the Pismo camping site..  Cisco Grove is known for it's off road area, miles and miles and miles of single track motorcycle trails and four wheel vehicle only roads.  In fact the roads are so rough that when a normal car attempts to negotiate them, every body chases them to see where they will get hung up and what part of their undercarriage will get crushed.

Can you guess where the top featured photo is from?  I arrived at our camp on Thursday.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I went hiking on three of my four favorite trails in the area. The first one was a close by trail called Loch Leven.  The trail head was two more exits up Hwy 80 off of Rainbow Drive.  The second one and the one I took the above photo from, was Mount Rose in Nevada North of, you guessed it, Lake Tahoe.  The third one was Five Alpine Lakes close by the Alpine Meadows ski resort.  The one hike I missed was Marlette Lake, NV aka the Flume Trail more popular for Mountain Biking then hiking.  That trail head is off of Spooner Lake, NV.



The beauty and serenity of a secluded alpine lake.  These lakes are sprinkled throughout the Sierras at high altitudes like giant rain puddles.  This one is in a group of several but it is the first one on the Loch Leven trail.  The trail itself is torturous vertical going up 1200 feet in two and one half miles.  In places, the trail rambles over massive granite outcroppings making it a guessing game of where the actual trail is.  In some granite areas, kind hikers have placed three or more stones to mark the path else it would be a total mystery where the trail is.  The trail scenery is beyond gorgeous.  Of particular note is the smell of Sugar Pine trees, like the smell from baking cookies.  Since this is the Sierras, flowers are abundant as well.  They get a late start as at these altitudes because the snow sticks around till June and sometimes July.



This isn't a Sugar Pine but shows how rugged the trail gets in places.  The two options are to jump it if you are under forty or crawl under it if you are over forty.  One of those over/under tree blockages. lol  



I'm thinking these are the Sierra's version of the "Indian Paint Brush" that we see in our bay area hikes., only I think ours in the bay area are prettier..



This is still Loch Leven but photographed from sitting atop a steep Granite outcropping after having my lunch.  I was hoping the gurls to my left would go swimming in the traditional Alpine Lake way, sans clothes but alas, the lass had a swimsuit on.  Shucks.  I don't know why but for some reason the thought of swimming for me, was not appealing.  I think it is more interesting and fun to do with other people when you can share the moment.  I did swim this lake a few years back and it was surprisingly tolerable warmth wise but what amazed me is how fast I dried off with no towel.  






I love these tiny blue butterflies, flitting around like uncontrollable beach kites.



Not a very noteworthy picture except for the story behind it.  When I arrived at the campground on Thursday, my son offered to take me out on a ride in his RZR affectionately refereed to as a Razor.  (You can view a photo of an RzR in the Pismo page.)  So we follow this other RZR on the four wheel track which ends up at the top of this mountain with a bunch of antennas.  The very one shown in the above photo as taken from the Loch Leven trail I was hiking on.  This road up to the antennas was a really bumpy dusty but interesting ride.  Even more amazing is how adept the RzR is at handling this road.  Good thing the camp ground had showers because like sand at the beach, that dust gets into everything.  The whole ride took about an hour.  Funny thing, there was a tree that had been topped off at seemingly an unreal height just off of the road and then I remembered, in December, the snow would have been high enough to make this tree top an inviting looking Christmas tree and easily accesible.  Evidently, Snow Mobiles are allowed on these trails as well.

Loch Leven is about 6 miles round trip and 1200' elevation change.  



Now for Mount Rose, NV.  This is a hike that starts out at 8700' and meanders up to 10,776' over five miles, a ten mile round trip.  I left camp early and arrived at the trailhead about 9:30 with almost no parking left in a very generous over 100 car capacity parking lot.  You would think that with this many hikers, that there should be traffic cops assigned to sort out the crowds.  This place is so spacious it's like putting one person on every acre of land.  The other hikers were hardly noticeable.  Are you impressed with starting out at 8700'?  I was and I knew it was going to be slow going.  It took me nearly three and one half almost four hours to get to the summit.  Was it worth it?  Hell ya!  The photo at the top of this page shows why and then



lots of people and dogs at the top including me!

My hat is tightly cinched because of the wind.  Yes, that is the lake shared by both CA and NV.

 







At Five Alpine Lakes, which if you counted all of them, there are more then five but the early trail namers probably only had five fingers.  These three guys didn't get the memo, swimming only allowed sans clothes.  This was at the second lake.  Also at this lake was a family of Buffle Head diving ducks: a Mom and about seven of her charges.  They were fun to watch and difficult to spot as they would disappear underwater for thirty or more seconds at a time.  I didnd't have my 400mm zoom lens so the photos I got of them do not do them justice.  A darn, wish I had taken it anyway's moment.  The lack of sharpness is a long story but boils down to a battle with the VA and when I can get my cataract fixed.



 
I believe this is the North side of this tree.



I love photographing the "Damsel Fly."



After hiking the "Five" alpine lakes, I toured the Truckee river catching the "Wild" life as it appeared.



Probably didn't need the inner tube.



Launching chaos at Tahoe City



The most exciting part of the river rafting trip is the rapids just before the raft takeout dock.  You have got to love the stereo typical roles: the "men" busily controlling the raft while the woman folk and children scream and act scared.  lol!



I love photographing water, an outlet of the Tahoe Dam.  A frozen moment.



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