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