GWL – A Wild River and Over the Sierra Nevadas

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Day 28 – Farewell Big Trees, Hello Wild River – 2,423 miles

Leaving Big Trees was difficult. It’s a fine, fine place to be, but we’re travelers and wanderers, rather than stayers, so it was time to move on … but not without a final morning hike … the Bradley Grove Trail. This 2-1/2 mile loop trail highlights a grove of Sierra redwoods planted in the 1950s by the local South Grove caretaker, Owen Bradley.  It was an easy, pleasant walk … a fine way to start a new day.

 Bleeding hearts

Bleeding hearts

 Miniature lupine

Miniature lupine

Bleeding hearts and miniature lupine lined the path. We reached a meadow where the grove of Sierra redwoods were planted, dwarfed by the giants around them.

 California poppies welcomed us at WaKaLuu Hep Yoo campground.

California poppies welcomed us at WaKaLuu Hep Yoo campground.

We didn’t have far to travel along scenic CA-4 to get to WaKaLuu Hep Yoo aka Wild River campground. We were greeted at the entrance by huge clusters of brilliant orange California poppies.

 No worries ... we won't be playing in this river!

No worries ... we won't be playing in this river!

For two millennia, the native Miwuk people lived here seasonally, fishing in the Stanislaus River and gathering food. From time to time, the local tribesmen still return to this area for traditional ceremonies. The native word ‘WaKaLuu’ translates to river and 'Hep Yoo’ describes an untamed or wild force of nature. Judging from the sign at the entrance, this descriptive campground name is appropriate.

 Nice campground ... woodsy and serene.

Nice campground ... woodsy and serene.

The campground was woodsy and serene. We took a quick walk around … there were only two other occupied campsites in the park and they were out of sight and sound from us. We took advantage of free hot showers, had a campfire dinner and hit the sack. We fell asleep to the sounds of the rushing river and croaking frogs.

 Scenic CA-4 heading over the Sierra Nevadas

Scenic CA-4 heading over the Sierra Nevadas

Day 29 – Over the Sierras

We woke to the jolting sound of pine cones falling on Blue’s head. A squirrel high above us was playing a morning prank. We continued on CA-4, gaining altitude with each mile. We stopped at Lake Alpine for a quick breakfast and a walk around the lake. It’s between seasons there … too late for winter and too early for summer. The Lake Alpine Lodge was closed though the owner reassured us they’d be opening fairly soon. No breakfast today though.

 Chipmunks and chickarees ran across the trail.

Chipmunks and chickarees ran across the trail.

The lake is lovely. Chickarees (Douglas squirrels) scurried across the trail. Steller’s jays squawked as we passed. Chipmunks eyed us from logs, then darted to safety when we got a bit too close. Canada geese cruised along the shore with their gosling brood. Merganser ducks paddled around, looking for some breakfast.

 Taking the family for a morning swim

Taking the family for a morning swim

A few kayakers were out on the lake, but the water looked cold. We couldn’t resist checking out the boat docks though.

 Lake Alpine boat docks

Lake Alpine boat docks

Further up the route, we stopped at the Mosquito Lakes for a stretch and a look-see. Wonder how these lakes got their names? We tromped around for a bit. The paths were soggy and muddy. There was still quite a bit of snow on the lake and the surrounding shore making a picturesque, albeit chilly, scene.

 Cabin on Mosquito Lakes ... pretty but brrrrr!

Cabin on Mosquito Lakes ... pretty but brrrrr!

We stopped at Ebbetts Pass, 8,730’ altitude, for a quick walk. Though the sun was out, the wind was blowing and it was brisk walk. Several cyclists had made it to the top and were resting. I was exhausted just thinking about their travail to get there.

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 Our GPS view - The road both up and down was circuitous with switchbacks, hairpin turns and steep ascents and descents.

Our GPS view - The road both up and down was circuitous with switchbacks, hairpin turns and steep ascents and descents.

We were over the Sierra Nevadas now and heading towards Carson City, Nevada. Named in honor of Kit Carson, this is the capital city of our current state of residence. We’d never visited and thought it was about time that we checked it out.

 Welcome to Carson City, Nevada

Welcome to Carson City, Nevada

Join us in a couple of days as we take a walking tour of Carson City, including the state capital building and then head up to Virginia City. I wonder if Ben Cartwright and his boys are still around?