Friday, July 9, 2010

Owens Valley

The Tadpole and I just got back on Wednesday from one of our more satisfying camping trips in a couple of years.  Camping trips in general seem to be fraught with could'ves and should'ves.  This one didn't have that feel at all, with a couple of minor exceptions.  We did what we wanted to do and only once, really got caught up in the, "No, we can't do that cache because we have to be somewhere else" mode.

That is a good thing in my opinion.  There were lots of things to do, lots of things to explore and we both had a really good time.  Our first day out was, obviously, a driving day.  We managed to get a virtual flag near Red Mountain and about five caches on the drive up, including a couple after we established camp at Devils Postpile.

As we drove north we kept a look out for interesting things to see.  I wanted to make sure my son got to see Mt. Whitney.  We talked about the John Muir Trail that stretches from Whitney's peak to Yosemite Valley.  We ended up walking along part of the trail while in Devils Postpile later in the day.

Once you get into the Owens Valley part of California, the scenery pretty much speaks for itself.  Owens Valley is on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and sits around 4000 feet of elevation.  Directly to the west sit the Sierra Nevada, towering over the valley.  At points there is a quick elevation gain of nearly 10,000 feet between the valley and the mountains.

The mountains, created by a fault block were uplifted and create a major rain shadow.  Owens Valley is in the rain shadow and doesn't get much rainfall over the course of a given year, because the mountains trap the moisture from the clouds as they rise to go over them.  This year was a particularly wet winter and there was a lot of snow in the high mountain passes and peaks.  So much so that it would affect our camping trip down the road.

One spot we chose to stop was at Manzanar National Historic Site.  Manzanar was one of several relocation centers for Japanese Americans during World War II.  Many Japanese Americans were rounded up during the early stages of the war and sent to live in these relocations centers for, as the government put it at the time, "the safety of the Japanese people."  Ironic that the guard towers posted at these relocation centers had their guns pointed inward as opposed to outward to protect from an external threat to the Japanese American people living there.

After touring the newly created visitors center at the old gymnasium, we were back on the road again, heading toward Devils Tower.  We stopped for one more cache north of Manzanar and reveled in the beauty of the cache location.  The disparity between the two locations was striking.  Manzanar was a harsh and unforgiving place back then and is still, for the most part the same today.  The National Park Service is slowly recreating it so that the visitor's experience will reflect the day to day life the Japanese Americans had during that time period.

Sixty miles to the north, the beauty of the place overwhelmed us, much like the starkness of Manzanar tried to do earlier.  This time, we let it.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Manzanar Virtual Cache - by GoodDogSD
Cache with a View - by Rallye

Profile for Webfoot

No comments: