July 10-11, 2018.
There was plenty of relaxing around our camp in the Sierra's - and it was great. The way I see it, most of us live in the world running from one thing to the next, attention spans of a cricket. To really be able to relax, disconnect, and not worry about "doing something all the time" is an ability that's being lost.
Not every trip lends itself to this kind of relaxation, but every trip does have moments where this can be experienced. Relish - even look for - those moments; they are grand.
Even so, even this trip had a couple of excursions worth mentioning - one a fun 4WD road with spectacular views; the other an annual hike with a fun twist at the end.
Finally Some Off-roading - Let's Go to ▮▮▮▮▮▮ Mountain
I don't remember if it was the second or third day we were there, but at some point, Pops suggested that we take the Tacoma for a spin up ▮▮▮▮▮▮ Mountain. He'd been up this road once before, years ago and thought it'd be a fun trip - challenging even.
Of course, I knew he really just wanted a ride in the truck - having traveled his fair share of Jeep trails in previous decades, but now the owner of a Jeep limo that rarely gets dusty.
Not to be rushed, we set off just before noon, delicious sandwiches and freshly picked cherries packed for the end of the trail. Our first stop was the ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Ranger Station, where Pops went in to say hi to the ranger (they're buddies after all these years) and I marveled at the only other vehicle parked outside - another Tacoma of course.
In good time, and after a bit of birding in the nearby meadow, we were off - along a nearby dirt spur looking for ▮▮▮▮▮▮ Mountain Road. Our first few attempts at finding it were unsuccessful, Pops memory clearly fading over the years! But, after some exploration (fun in itself!), we eventually stumbled upon the right road and headed up.
Most of the road was dusty and bumpy, but still relatively mellow as roads go. It was clearly well-enough traveled, but not so well traveled as to be extremely wide or have the grass between the two tracks beaten down. And, there were a few spots that had some nice granite rocks and ledges that we could climb over.
And then, as we neared the end of the trail, finally getting up around the treeline and to the top of the ridge, the trail really got fun. Steeper grades, some narrow sections, and a few off-camber moments kept us on our toes.
Not to mention the views!
We continued up - Dad popping out of the truck for a moment to take a few photos, and then me doing the same thing! It was a great time that I think we both really enjoyed.
Eventually of course, we got to the top - and the 360º views were splendid. To the north we could see the pass to ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Valley. To the south, the ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ river and watershed.
And of course to the west, we could see Little Bear Hill and our camp site in the midground.
We parked the truck in some of the only shade we could find, the spot reminding me of @Blackdawg's plunge on The De-Tour, and then sat in the shade of a nearby tree to enjoy the deluxe sandwiches we'd brought for lunch and the sights all around.
Eventually of course, we realized that we should get back - we had an important swimming at 5:00pm schedule to keep, so we climbed back into the truck, released the parking brake, and headed back along the ridge and down ▮▮▮▮▮▮ Mountain Road.
It was a great excursion and fun to get in the truck with Pops - something he doesn't generally get to do on these trips any more. But it's hard to say if it was more beautiful than a hike we went on the following day...
The Annual Trip up Lost Knife Knoll
The trip up to ▮▮▮▮▮▮ Mountain was fun, but there was true hype around our hike up Lost Knife Knoll. Big grins would come over Dad and his buddy's faces when they talked about the knoll, but I had no idea the reason behind that.
At any rate, we headed out one morning - well, around 11:30am really - to enjoy the height of the summer heat on our few mile, couple thousand foot climb. "Awesome."
And, since we were going up, we started by going down - down to a pretty major bridge that was part of the ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Trail, and which crossed ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Creek a quarter mile upstream from our swimming hole.
From there, we meandered through the forest on the trail for what was maybe only a mile or so, enjoying the wildflowers blooming by small streams, the pine-filtered light on the forest floor, and the grand trees all around.
Eventually, we turned off the beaten path and headed, essentially, straight uphill towards the knoll. Along the way passing several very old Junipers, clearly special trees in their own right.
As we made our way up to the tree line, the views started to open up. Granite peaks near and far. Passes in the distance. I knew I was in for a treat as we'd stop to take in the surroundings.
Eventually we reached the top - and it was there that I heard the story of Lost Knife Knoll - a location where, years ago a knife was lost and never found. Where a second knife was placed to commemorate the first but was later taken by explorers unknown. And then, where a third knife had been left - waiting for the next curious adventurer.
The question of course on everyone's mind - was it still there?
And, as the rock was lifted - YES! The knife was still there. What a fun story, and now something I'll remember each time I return.
But the lost knife isn't all that made this place special. Once again, we had 360º views and everyone took advantage, spending a few quiet moments alone enjoying the grandeur of the place.
Once again, we had views of Little Bear Hill and our camp site in the midground, the ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ river and watershed to our south, and the pass to ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ Valley to the north.
(I couldn't resist with this rock in the foreground)
We hung out of quite a while, but lunch was on all our minds and we eventually headed back down, enjoying the sights again on the way down - the light slightly different than it'd been on the way up. In the end, the bridge marked our entrance back to camp area, where we enjoyed amazing sandwiches and ice cold drinks.
So, ▮▮▮▮▮▮ Mountain Road and Lost Knife Knoll were quite the outings - highlights in the trip for sure. But perhaps the most excitement would come on what was to be our last day...
There's More to Somewhere in the Sierras