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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Near Harper Dry Lake

 Our first stop, The Buttes. We were scouting for a rendezvous spot to be used next spring. I climbed the highest butte about ten years ago and remembered a large camping area nearby. The camping spot was as I recalled but filled with holiday weekend campers and their RV's. That was to be expected because a Thanksgiving weekend is a crowded weekend in the Mojave Desert. (A F-22 Raptor crashed a few miles from The Buttes back in 2009.)
We drove on past the Harper Lake Solar Electric Generating Station on our way east from The Buttes.
The station uses a field of parabolic collectors to supply thermal energy to a conventional electric power plant.
We stopped to take a photo of the Lockhart General Store. I have driven by the store many times and always have the same two thoughts; it would have been so very cool to visit when it was open for business and will it still be there the next time I drive by.
The general store once 'sold everything' but nothing much is left of Lockhart. It was once a thriving farming community. The dry lake to the north was used during WWII as a secret aircraft testing field.
 We arrived at the Harper Dry Lake wildlife viewing station and were surprised at how much water was there in November. Later I read that the Solar Electric Generating Station supplies up to 75 acre feet (93,000 m3) of water per year to the lake as part of the mitigation agreement for solar field expansion.
Ducks feeding on the lake with Black Mountain in the background. Climbed Black Mountain in 1999.
FWC and Harper Marsh with our next destination, Lynx Cat Mountain, in the distance.
Driving up a 4x4 trail to the saddle and the start of our climb to the summit of Lynx Cat Mountain.
Looking down on our vehicles as we approach the summit.
A zoom of the camera catches a golden sunset silhouetting Double and Tehachapi Mountains about 70 miles away. On the lower right in the photo Tule Fog creeps over from the San Joaquin Valley. Climbed Tehachapi in 2004.
Another sunset photo from our camp looking across Water Valley. We sat in our chairs eating dinner and Jo Ann remarked that, "it's a lovely, peaceful evening, .......except for the explosions." Down in the valley about a mile away a camp of RV'ers were creating some really powerful explosions. To give the reader a feel for the size of the explosions, we thought at first that they were making bombing runs over at China Lake NWAS.
Sunrise at Lynx Cat Mountain camp.
Fremont Peak about eight miles to the Northwest. Climbed it in 1998.
Driving a sandy road just because we want to see where it takes us.
A familiar target of sportsmen everywhere. Considering how close it was to the road the shooters must have needed the practice.
Just like elephants, sofas need a place to die. We counted seven sofas at this location and wondered why someone would drive all the way out here just to dump them.
Jo Ann spotted this den, one of several in the area. Feral hogs would be my guess.
Lynx Cat Mountain from the Northeast.
We crossed this small rime crusted playa on our journey back to the main road.
To quote Kevin Bacon in the movie Tremors, "Freeway."
We followed the well maintained powerline road back to pavement and headed for home.
Double and Tehachapi Mountains are now only 20 miles away as we near Mojave.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Frazier Mountain Getaway

Late Friday afternoon I gave Jan a call at work and suggested a quick trip to higher elevations and the sound of whispering pines. Frazier Mountain at 8013 feet seemed like a convenient destination.
 We started driving up the mountain just after sunset.
 Around 6500 feet we saw the first snow, drove on to the summit, headed west for about a mile and set up camp.
 While cooking supper I remarked to Jan that we would still be putting up our tent and arranging gear in the pre-FWC days. Instead we were sitting comfortably inside listening to a football game on Sirius Satellite Radio.
 The next morning we spotted these bobcat tracks.
This campfire ring reminded us how nice it was to have a camper and furnace instead of having to start a fire in the morning.
 It was 25ยบ outside but 32 degrees warmer inside.
Four Wheel Camper framed.
 Hungry Valley to the south covered with fog.
 Ice makes a crusty cover at a water crossing.
 Many cool formations in the ice.
Deer tracks spotted in the thawing ground.
 We arrive back at the summit.
Survey marker next to the lookout.
 Parked next to the old fire lookout. The summit is now festooned with many towers and antennas.
Years ago a visitor to this location could climb the stairs and visit with the person manning the lookout. Now the once proud lookout has been vandalized.
 Sad that idiots have to destroy such unique places.
 One last look to the south.
 Lockwood Valley Road is six miles away.
There were several steep icy sections on the drive down the mountain.
 Lockwood Valley in the foreground, Cuddy Valley and the San Andreas Fault running diagonally in upper half of photo.
A familiar landmark on the Frazier Mountain Road.
After taking this photo we continued down the mountain to pavement, turned right, drove on to the interstate and headed for home.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Truck Camper Magazine Photo Contest

Over the past several years generous readers of this blog have complemented our photos and suggested that we submit a few to the Truck Camper Magazine Calendar Contest. This year we submitted three photos and are pleased to write that one of the photos was selected for the calendar. The hardest part of the contest was choosing the three photos to submit. We gathered the photos below from blog entries of the past year and began to cull. Which three would you have chosen?