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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > trip report: In the Bosom of the High Sierra

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jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 10/07/08 05:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Few places in my experience have the attraction of the Sierra Nevada mountains that constitute the eastern spine of California. So much so, that Jeanie and I actually retired to the West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada. John Muir called it the "Range of Light" for it's seemingly eternal sunshine. Sierra Nevada translates from the Spanish to: Snowy Mountains, or snowy peaks. It does get stormy in the winter, but doesn't stay gloomy for long. Right at our home location in 1990, @ 4000 feet, a four day storm dumped 10 feet of wet snow on the area. But then the sun came out and started to melt the white stuff.

Our trip started on September 1st for a short 4 day excursion. We left Nevada City (CA) on a cloudless, cool day motating east to Reno and then south on Hwy. 395, the main eastern California, north to south highway.
As impassable as the mountains look from the east, there are actually quite a few spots that are passable by motorized means... Up to about November 15th. Then, one by one, the iron gates start to close as the snow flies.
Seasonal closures include (from north to south): hwy 88-Kit Carson Pass (el. 8573), Hwy 4
Ebbitts Pass (el. 8730), Hwy 108, Sonora Pass (el. 9624), Hwy 120, Tioga Pass (el. 9945). From Tioga, it's a short 300 miles to the south before another trans Sierra crossing can be made on a motor road. It's a low pass at the bottom of the Sierra called Bird Springs Pass. Kit Carson found it bumping his way south in the winter and this was the first route across in the spring. Over time, I've been over all of these.
Our trip explores Sonora Pass and invirons.
Turning west up Calif Hwy 108, a sign soon announces a 26 % grade, narrow roadway, trailers and RV's not advised. It is just a paved over cow path. It is the only paved road i've been on that i was forced into 2nd gear (on a 6 speed manual) for miles. At least I was still in high range. The old Lance Lite didn't seem so that day. Days later on the way down the same way, it was again 2nd gear for miles. Without engine/exhaust brakes, you were still on the brakes a lot in 2nd, motating right along at 10-15 mph.
Our first camp site was a proven winner. We've camped here before. Right at the confluence of Leavitt Creek and a tributary, down a jeep trail.
Unlike Tiger or Sleepy, I'm happy to divulge the location:
N38deg 18.433'
W119deg 35.335'
Elevation: 8282'
[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

After savoring this spot for a day we moved up stream, up a jeep trail to our 2nd camp at Leavitt Lake.
N38deg 16.281'
W119deg 36.916'
elevation: 9675'

[image]

This is about as close as you can get on dirt with a TC to the crest of the Sierra. Because of it's remoteness, it would be real interesting to get caught in a big snow storm here.

[image]

[image]

There was some wind from the north so we moved our final camp down into the trees.

[image]

[image]
Here's an overall of the circ basin we camped in with the crest of the High Sierra to the rear and right.
[image]

This is the farthest south these special Foxtail pines grow in the Sierra. You can tell by the stubby trunks how much snow weighs them down 6 months of the year. They are a relative of the long-lived Bristlecone pines.

[image]
regards, as always, jefe

* This post was edited 10/07/08 06:38pm by jefe 4x4 *


'01.5 Dodge 2500 4x4, CTD, Qcab, SB, NV5600, 241HD, 4.10's, Dana 70/TruTrac; Dana 80/ TruTrac, Spintec hub conversion, H.D. susp, 315/75R16's on 7.5" and 10" wide steel wheels, Vulcan big line, Warn M15K winch '98 Lance Lite 165s, 8' 6" X-cab, 200w Solar

rhode trip

Rhode Island

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Posted: 10/07/08 05:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great photos and an interesting write-up, Jefe. I'd like to get out there one of these days. Thanks for posting!


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Mooney

Santa Barbara, Ca

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Posted: 10/07/08 05:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow . . . aren't the Sierras amazing!

Thanks for sharing the location.


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BobTowne

Fairfield, CA, USA

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Posted: 10/07/08 05:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

rhode trip wrote:

Great photos and an interesting write-up, Jefe. I'd like to get out there one of these days. Thanks for posting!


Thanks for sharing. I don't mean to complain, but how come I don't see any pics? Sure sounds great, and I love the Sierras...


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~DJ~

Boise, Idaho

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Posted: 10/07/08 05:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yet another place of "have to see" for my ever growing list. How was the fishing?

Great post and pics, Thanks.


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jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 10/07/08 06:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DJ,
There were a lot of fish jumping . I didn't take a rig, so I was out of the picture.
However, a few day fishers came and went in jeeps. Unfortunately for them, they arrived too late in the morning to get the sunrise fish, and left too early in the afternoon to get the sunset fish. One guy put his leg powered rubber boat in about 11am (the one you wear like hip waiders) and stroked around the whole lake for about 4 hours. He never got a bite, nothing but cold legs. A couple folks along the shore-same thing.
DJ, this is your kind of place. Really.
regards, as always, jefe

Spott

SE Michigan

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Posted: 10/07/08 07:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I really like the river going through the boulders, nice.

Thanks for the write up and the photos.


Me - Kim - Spot
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Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 10/07/08 08:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing! What a gorgeous area! I've been around that area several times, but not out that particular dirt road. Do the Marine mountain warfare trainees get out that far? I run into them all them when hiking around Leavitt Meadow.

jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 10/07/08 08:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tiger,
We were there about 6 years ago, on a mt. bike trip, when the Marine Mountain Division were in training. We were having lunch about a mile off of 108 when helicopter gunships, and bunch of camo-clad grunts whizzed on by, flying, running, and leaping up the hill. That left my jaw in the lowered position.
We failed to see a small sign reminding us we were entering a military reservation.
There was a special on that outfit on the Military Channel a couple years ago, which has been rerun several times. Funny, I saw that program for the first time and got into it when it was already running for 20 minutes. I KNEW where it was just from the look of the rocks, ground cover and tree cover, which further peaked my interest. Following that program, the outfit went on to fight in Afghanistan.
regards, as always, jefe

Quick trip

Cerritos, Ca.

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Posted: 10/07/08 08:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jefe:
I know all that area real well. I was stationed in the Marines there from 1959 - 1962.
Yes we spent a lot of time in the winter saving people who were stranded in some of those areas.
They had chains and gates when I was there because every three days two of us in a jeep started real early in the morning checking all those gates!
If someone managed to get around the gates and we spotted them, it was jail time!
I guess now they must have changed the rules on civilians getting on the base.
Loved the area and still do!
Have fun while your there!!





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