Saturday October the 6th

My tour guide, Cindi had a good day mapped out for us. It including stopping at the USFS discovery center for info and maps and then stopping for several short hikes in the mountains surrounding Big Bear Lake. I called the USFS "Discovery Center" and got a recording stating they were open. How could we get so lucky? Of course when we got there the place was gated closed. Oh well...

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

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Our first stop was the 1.5 Woodland Loop Nature Trail. We stopped at the trailhead to look over this area map and pick up a trail guide. Of course the guide box was empty. Too bad. There are 20 marked stops and the trail guide would have been a good intro to the natural history of this area.

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We saw many amazing California Junipers (Juniperus occidentalis) on this short but scenic walk.
These trees get old. The Bennett Juniper in the Stanislaus National Forest of California is considered the oldest and largest example at possibly 3000 years old, with a height of 85 feet.

Unfortunately some of the biggest of the Junipers are being illegally cut by tree poachers. The reason for cutting down these ancient trees? To make carved trinkets for the tourists and locals. Some people have no shame.
You can find out more by reading: " Juniper trees disappearing".

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The dominant tree in the are is the Ponderosa Pine. On this day we would see some magnificent specimens.

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As we approached this stately Ponderosa Pine we spotted an Acorn Woodpecker in the upper reaches.

Acorn Woodpecker - WikiPedia Photo   Click for larger image

A closer look at the thousands of cavities the woodpecker had made to stash acorns in. Busy fella!

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This is one of the 20 nicely made markers which are keyed to the trail guide we did not have.

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The thick and deeply fissured bark of the Ponderosa Pine helps provide protection from forest fires.

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Looking across Big Bear Lake we could see the ski slopes and some the Aspen trees which were starting to show some fall color.

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This small oak was common along the trail. It may be California Scrub Oak (Quercus berberidifolia).

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This old juniper skeleton was quite picturesque.

This hike was on the north shore of the lake. We would spend the rest of the day in the mountains about the south shore.
To get there we drove down to the dam and crossed over to the south side.

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A famous spot on the south side is Boulder Bay.

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A women sitting on a nearby bench offered to take a photo of Cindi and I. I am glad she did!

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There is a public park here at boulder bay and there were lot of people out enjoying the fine weather.

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Quite the perch for this house. There were lots of houses built up on the boulders like this one.

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"Two million dollar homes with million dollar views".

We departed boulder pay and headed up into the mountains in search of more big trees.

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After several miles of driving up steep and dusty USFS service roads we found our spot.

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The trail to the Champion Lodgepole (Pinus contorta) pine passed through magnificent groves of Ponderosa pines.

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Up at this elevation, nearly 8000' feet, all of the Ponderosa pines were flat topped. Why, I do not know. Do you?

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Click the photo to read the sign.

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Considering the size of this tree I am surprised it is "only" 400 years old.

Pinus contorta is a fire dependent species, requiring wildfires to maintain healthy populations of diverse ages. The bark of the lodgepole pine is fairly thin, minimizing the defense the tree has to fire. The heat of these closed-cone pine forest rejuvenating fires open the cones to releasing the seeds. This allows the species to regenerate and maintain its place in the forest habitat.

Excessive wildfire prevention disrupts the fire ecology. The stands are usually so densely populated that the trees self thin, or out-compete each other, leaving dead trees standing. These become a dry ladder fuel that can accelerate the fire to the crown of living trees. When the fire reaches the crowns of the trees, it can jump from tree to tree and becomes relatively unstoppable.

Source: WikiPedia

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Cindi snapped this photo of a Buff Dude while on the trail to Buff Lake.

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The beautiful Buff lake and surrounding meadows are managed by the Wildlands Conservancy.

The Wildlands Conservancy owns and operates California's largest nonprofit nature preserve system. This preserve system includes 12 magnificent landscapes spanning over 145,000 acres of diverse mountain, valley, desert, river and ocean front properties. The Wildlands Conservancy also funded the largest conservation land gift to the American people in U.S. history - over 560,000 acres.

Source: Wildlands Conservancy.

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Cindi had been here before and wanted to show me these ruins of an old settlement.

Originally a stopover resort for the pack trains going between Mountain Home Village and Big Bear Lake in the late 1800s, it was later used as a summer camp - in fact, the opening camp scenes of the 1961 movie The Parent Trap were filmed here. In the late 1990s, the property was on the market and slated for development, but the Wildlands was able to purchase the parcel in 2000 to protect this stunning mountain landscape.

Source: Facebook 2013

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This was adjacent to Buff Lake. What a nice spot for a little solitude.

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We passed this mighty fine Ponderosa pine on the way back to the car.

From here we back tracked to Skyline Drive to reach our next destination - Grandview Point.

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The trail out to Grandview Point crossed over some granite domes which are home to some gnarly looking old Ponderosa pine.
We also saw some huge White Fir (Abies concolor). I recognized this species from the trees Betsy and I had seen in Reelig Glen, Scotland just a few months earlier.

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The Grandview. Looking west into the Santa Ana River drainage.

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This is looking back towards Big Bear and the ski area.

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A nice spot to relax and take in the view.

By now it was around 4:30 and my stomach was growling. We continued on down the Skyline Road to Big Bear and by the time we got to Cindi's place it was Happy Hour.
We snacked on crackers and hummus and visited with Cindi's friend Phil.
Then for dinner it was a big and tasty salad ala Cindi.

We topped of the day with a SNL compilation via NetFlix. I didn't last long and hit the sack around 9:30.

A good day. Thanks, Cindi!

 

 

'Till next time...

 

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