Warner Mountains and Steens Mountain Trip
October 18 to 20, 2012

Ever since getting the camper I had been wanting to take an extended trip, alone, and concentrating on photography. My opportunity came when my wife Nora attended a veterinary medical conference in Reno for the better part of a week. We drove up after work, checked into the Peppermill Hotel, and the next morning I took off on my trip.

My plan was to fill in some panorama coverage of northeastern California and northwestern Nevada, plus some of the desert country of Oregon. I expected low temperatures and possibly high winds, so it was not a trip I would happily have done if tent camping.

(Click any picture to open a larger version.)

October 18, 2012

I headed out from Reno after breakfast and spent a pleasant day exploring Modoc County in the northeast corner of California - Susanville, Eagle Lake, Alturas, then over the Warner Mountains into Surprise Valley.

It was getting dark, and very cold, when I ventured up this canyon in the Warner Mountains near Eagleville. I found a tiny campground (three sites) with pickups and horse trailers parked, but no people.

All panoramas taken this day (11)

Panoramas of Susanville, Lassen County, California

Panoramas of Eagle Lake

Panoramas of Alturas, Modoc County

October 19, 2012

The weather was beautiful and there were still some golden leaves on the aspens and cottonwoods. I looked around Eagleville and Cedarville then headed east into Nevada and the barren high desert. I crossed the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (formerly the Sheldon Antelope Range) to the Virgin Warm Springs campground.

A hint of potential adventure ahead - the sagebrush desert of eastern Oregon, northern Nevada, and southern Idaho is one of the least populated areas in the 48 states.

The CCC built a bathhouse and campground facilities here at Virgin Warm Springs. Other than the old guy who ran a noisy generator, it was a nice place to camp.

All panoramas taken this day (14)

Panoramas of the Warner Mountains, California

Panoramas of Surprise Valley, Cedarville and Eagleville

Panoramas of the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada

October 20, 2012

I shot panos of Steens Mountain (on film) many years ago and I have been trying to get back there ever since. But it is a long way from anywhere and not on any of my usual routes. So this was a rare opportunity, though it entailed a lot of driving,

Steens Mountain is a vast tilted slab of rock with a gradual well-vegetated west slope and a steep eastern escarpment. A gravel road loops up from Frenchglen to the top.

This herd of desert bighorn sheep was right by the road as I followed the Catlow Rim north towards Frenchglen.

It was beautiful up on Steens Mountain, great views and colors. But cold - below freezing near the summit (note the frost on the grass) with a stiff wind.

I descended Steens Mountain as it got dark and headed for Interstate 80 at Winnemucca. I didn't get back to the hotel in Reno until late, but it had been a great day up on the mountain.

All panoramas taken this day (17)

Panoramas of the western slopes of Steens Mountain, Oregon

Panoramas of Steens Mountain, Oregon

October 21, 2011

The veterinary conference ended at noon and we headed south along Highway 395. There were high wind warnings in effect, and Tioga Pass was likely to close at any time, so we had to keep driving. We arrived in Yosemite Valley after dark but got a campsite at Upper Pines. Unfortunately the neighbors on both sides were noisy and built smoky fires, but we were able to relocate to a quieter site. The fabric top of the popup camper is no more barrier to sound than a tent would be.

Soon after we went to bed it started to rain. The thunder of the downpour on the fiberglass camper top, just inches above us as we lay in bed, was so loud we had to shout to be heard.

The fall colors were at their peak, especially the aspen groves along the eastern base of the Sierra.

Upper Pines Campground in the rain.

October 22, 2011

Although the camping experience was not optimal, Yosemite Valley was, as always, superb.

The clouds were still down below the clifftops and steam clouds clung to the great stone walls.

In addition to the dramatic atmosphere, the dogwoods in Yosemite Valley were showing off their subtle fall colors.

We paused for one final fond look at Valley View, then headed home.

Don Bain at Google+