Hi all For those that did not make it, boy did you miss out!!!!
Kathy and I started out of San jose on thursday around 2:30 and headed up to Jamestown to meet up with our friends, Lynn and Carla. We stayed night with them and headed out on friday morning. Lynn had gotten up early and was checking on the Highway passes. CLOSED 108, 4, 120. Lynn called his friend that works for the CHP and Mike was checking for us as to when the passes would be open. The call came back that they may be closed for the day, but maybe 108 would be open late in the day. Mike called the CAL TRANS facilities office and was informed that indeed 108 could be open late in the day. We messed around and killed some time heading up 108, thinking all of the time that we really should turn around and head for 88. Stubborn as I am, I kept saying let’s just take our time and I am sure the pass will be open by the time we get up there. Several calls back and forth with Ed, who had met up with Richard and decided to go up 120, finally called back again and said that 120 was closed and they would meet up with us on 108. We all meet up at Strawberry some had breakfast and we visited for awhile. We headed up the hill and went right by a couple of gates, hey looks good. I think they said it was closed just to discourage people from coming up, OH NO, the next gate was closed and a couple of people had been waiting there since 4:00am to get through. There were two vehicles ahead of the three vehicles in our group. We talked to each other for some 45 minutes to an hour. All at once the gate was opened by CAL. We all looked at the gate and were amazed. Not quite knowing what to do, we sat there and the lead car, said that he was going and if he did not come back in an half hour, it should be OK. Some discusion was going on after waiting a half hour. A couple of us said LETS GO. As we were heading up the hill, we meet a CAL TRANS plow coming down the hill. Oh %$$%$@@ now what!!! The driver stopped and talked with each one ahead of us. As the truck got close to us, Carla said, “I know that guy, it’s Tim. Lynn regained some color in his face and we talked with Tim for awhile. He said that the pass should be open, but somebody in Sac. thought that it should be closed. There was another CAL TRANS man that opened the gate at the other end and let us through.
We arrived in Bridgeport around 2:00 pm and at the Virginia Creek Settlement around 3:00 pm. Snow was with us most of the way. It snowed the rest of the day and evening off and on. Others were still trying to get there and some actually did make it by going up 88. Way to go Loro Mary Diane, Ava Dennis, and David with daughter Lexie. David should be commended being from Chicago and still making it up there, even though it was around 2:00 in the morning on Saturday. We woke up to around 4-5 inches of snow on the top of our vehicles.
We left the campgrounds Esprit de Late around 7:45am, after scrapping the ice off our windshields. The scenery was fantastic with all of the snow. We were glad that our heaters were working, because the temp was 15. We made a couple of stops along the way to Bodie at several mines. Some of us saw 8-10 deer with a couple of bucks showing off for the does.
We arrived at Bodie and had made up the time from leaving fashionably late. This place was amazing. We had our lunch and met up with our tour guide Ranger Rod. Rod informed us as to how lucky we were to be here at this time. The EPA had been there this last week and said that the Stamp Mill will be shut down. We are very likely the last group to have been able to tour the Mill. What a treat. The history of this area is very hard to believe. There were at one time some 10,000 people living there with approx. some 2,000 buildings. There are maybe around 200 left today with some of them being restored to original. This is an area that sees winter temps around 40-50 below 0 with winds that have been clocked at upwards of 190 miles per hour. 40 degrees did not seem so bad.
We were then lead to Mono Lake to take a look at the Tofa formations and over to the visitors office to see a short movie on the lake and what has happened to it. This lake is breeding ground for Brine Shrimp and Flies. It is also a Seagulls paradise.
I heard about some Beaver dams that are located at Lundy Lake. Not having enough time before dinner, it was decided to go there on sunday morning before leaving to go home. The dinner was very good and we all ate way to much. Some of us played a dice game, some visited, others just enjoyed being by the propane heaters.
On sunday morning, we were back in to eat more and say our goodbyes to the host and to some new and old friends. Well, the 108 and 4 passes are still closed. That ment for the 120 option through Yosemite and in the direction of the beaver ponds. Up to Lundy Lake only to the dens and dams, but no Beavers. Back on the road and through Yosemite. A little detour to the Yosemite Village for a soda and back out headed to Jamestown.
I am so glad that Ed headed up this Trail Tour of an area that I really did not know even existed. Thanks ED and TONI for all that you guys did for this trip. I even learned things.
Darell, Kathy and our friends Lynn and Carla.
P.S. Another thanks to CAL or CAL TRANS for the gate miricle.