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Old 04-30-2013, 04:32 PM   #1
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Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

I just did a trip from Oakland to Montaña del Oro State Park, Jalama Beach County Park, Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Red Rocks State Park, Alabama Hills Recreation Area, Cerro Gordo, Panamint Springs, Bishop Creek and back home over Sonora Pass (yes, it's open...so is Monitor but not Tioga).

The outset of the trip had horrendous winds; I delayed a day and even then the first two days (April 16th and 17th) it really blew. But from the north...improved my gas mileage by 20% (honestly; it was freaky).

Montaña del Oro is a nice little state park near Morro Bay; nice campground and great hiking, running, mountain biking and tide pooling. But like all CA state parks, too expensive. No flowers, which is VERY rare.

Then down the coast to Jalama Beach. It's a Santa Barbara County park; showers, some nice sites, a café and a big beach. Awesome kite surfing; wind blew straight out to sea at consistent 20 knots. Good birding. Nice drive in; the only coastal access for almost 50 miles (betwixt Pt Arguello and Pt Conception). Almost no flowers.

Then a new (to me) drive up the Cuyama River to the lower entrance to Carrizo Nat'l Monument. I've been trying to travel routes based on terrain rather than highway choice, and this fits the bill. Rather awesome that the Chumash Indians originally had a camp at Jalama Beach, and also in Carrizo, where they left rock art. Not very well travelled, and a nice drive (just don't follow Google's directions, they are scandalously inaccurate and gonna get someone stranded). Stayed this time at KCL campground; it's been a bit improved since I last encountered it. Only trees for miles. Birds galore; no flowers. Carrizo isn't for everyonne; it should be called Rodent National Monument. Everything (owls, foxes, kangaroo rats, snakes) lives in holes. Except bats; they live in abandoned buildings. One is actually set aside for their use. One of the remotest parts of CA. No flowers; again rare.



After leaving Carrizo, over to Red Rocks State Park. I still think it's one of the best semi-ignored state parks; great for hiking. But I still can't convince them to open up backcountry camping again. Sigh. But it's a pretty nice campground, just too expensive. Thought I found some Indian artifacts, but then again every piece of chipped obsidian or chert looks like a tool to me now.

Then over to Alabama Hills. Many have mentioned how nice it is to boondock there. Not many people, except some climbers on the weekend. It was getting quite hot, and the Sierra have a snow level that's about par for mid June. It's as if summer had already arrived. No flowers. Actually stayed up on Lone Pine Creek one day to avoid heat.

Speaking of heat, we then decided to do Cerro Gordo. Road on west side in great shape, but due to heat I'd advise 4WD if you've got it to help keep the tranny cool. Guy coming up sorta cooked his F250's trans. Probate is closing in June, and Robert, the caretaker, was constantly on the phone with the owner/son. Hope it stays open. Can't stay in hotel anymore, bummer.

I descended the back side to the Lee Flat Rd and then out Saline Valley Rd to 190. The trip down is slow and bumpy, and I had to move some rocks. But the road back up the canyon towards Lee Flat is worse than what I'd heard; there were some washouts and ruts, probably due to the heavy monsoons they got last summer (I don't think it rained enough this winter, and I hear the southern end of the Saline Rd is a bit trashed). No problemo for a SMB in 4WD, but it slowed things down and had to scout a coupla times in those one-tire-low one-tire-high leaning over ruts. So slower than anticipated.



Then stayed at Panamint Springs Resort. Love that place. Had some long talks with the family; they are slowly making improvements. Added tent cabins, for instance. Cold beer and showers and some shade; best campground camping in DVNP IMHO. Be a great place to do a SMB gathering. They just had one for dual sport bikes (and there were far more bikers staying there than RVs). No flowers. Getting quite hot.

So bailed (there was no one around, BTW, never saw anyone on back roads, and only three cars on the Emigrant loop). Over to Bishop Creek; lots of Inyo NF campsites were opening early due to the lack of snow (you could hike snow free all the way up to Lone Pine Lake).

And I noticed they just opened Sonora Pass; one of the earliest I've seen. So had to head over. Unfortunately camprounds not all open, and some boony sites inaccessible, so I just motored home. The west side was gorgeous, and again, empty. Gotta get out more in April I guess.

If anyone wants more specifics, lemme know.
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:45 PM   #2
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

Great pictures and trip report. Thanks for sharing !
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:46 PM   #3
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

Thanks for the info on Carrizo Nat'l Monument. Adding it to my list!
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:09 AM   #4
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Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

Thx for sharing. Love jalama and their awesome burgers they sell at the shack. Can get super windy at night tho. Thought my roof was gonna get torn off.

Just came back from Alabama hills. Looking forward to going back. Can't believe its free. So picturesque there.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:44 AM   #5
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

Thanks for the report and pics.

You hit some of my favorite places on your trip. Only one I've missed thus far is Carrizo.

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Old 05-01-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

Funny about Jalama; I used to sail and that wind would have been very much appreciated...not so much when it's blowing the van around. Had to lower the top on the trip a couple of days to get sleep. And made a note to carry a spare bolt for the cross bars....

We're convinced that within a year or two Alabama Hills will be closed to camping. Seems to be generating more interest, although pretty empty when we were there. But the whole Owens Valley was pretty empty. I noted that the BLM or someone has been clearing fire rings; the "suggestion" to use existing sites as demarked by such rings might mean a move to limit camping.

I don't understand why they don't manage it like Moab; have some open areas with certain spots closed (like the movie set spots), and require fire pans and that you use wag bags or portable toilets. Most of the camp sites were cleaner than the real campgrounds in DVNP....
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:54 AM   #7
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

With the current rabid and out of control regulating coming out of D.C. I predict all BLM /Forest Service camping will be greatly curtailed and limited to designated campgrounds.Did you know that the newest CA state park(Crystal Cove) does not allow tent pegs because of the possibility of hurting the ground.How have the campsites in places like Yellowstone and Yosemite endured for over a century?
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:55 AM   #8
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

BTW.thanks for your posts and pics.
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:49 AM   #9
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Re: Carrizo Nat'l Monument, Mojave

It's rather crazy, and I suspect more about the optics than the science.

For example, the USFS rangers were all over campers at Glass Creek campground near Mammoth about not dumping gray water at the camp. Fine, we all agree with that. We were asking one ranger about that, and whether it was cool to use gray water to douse a fire, something we've done in the past. He said nope; I suppose that's OK, although it seems rather harsh. And this is coming from someone like me who has filtered gray water on the river before tossing it (those little food specks can be rodent/insect magnets in the very confined camping areas on rivers).

But then we asked: what about the tent campers here? They toss ALL their gray water; they just don't do it all at once. Ranger smiled and agreed it made no sense.

I've been spending a lot of time recently with folks in big RVs. Ironically they produce less impact on an area (minus tailpipe emissions, depending on the vehicle) than the tent campers. They bring in all water and carry out all waste; some tent campers seemed to be still using cat holes for waste. The RVs can even carry portable fire pits where needed, and basically leave nothing behind besides their tracks. Now if we could only ban generators.... But the tent campers need food storage, stuff would blow all around, and then there's those stake holes

Rob
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