Category: geology

Markleeville Musings – Here and There on Hump Day

BLUE and I were on a ride just last week where I took this image of him goofing off a bit near Monitor Junction. ‘Twas a beautiful spring day and the excitement of getting outside took over so he made the leap up and hung out for a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Bit Of Easter Anyone?

IT was wonderful to get together with family over the Easter holiday. First time the crew has made it up here to the heart of the California Alps since that virus reared its ugly head.

Exact opposite of ugly…

Our two Grand Nieces post-egg hunt. Was an awesome weekend of eats, walks, laughs and eggs. Hope you and yours had loads of bunny-fun, too!

Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC)

The goals of the D10 BPAC align with Caltransโ€™ core values: Engagement, Equity, Innovation, Integrity, and Pride, as well as Caltransโ€™ three foundational principles: Safety, Equity and Climate Action.

Bob Highfill – Public Information Officer, Caltrans District 10

CALTRANS District 10 hosted the second meeting of this groundbreaking committee on April 13th and yours truly did a presentation for the group about the Tamarack and Caldor Fires recovery efforts happening here in Alpine County.

BASED on comments in the chat (yup, was a virtual meeting), the presentation was an eye-opener for those who had not seen the damage, and was well received. Lots to do still, but lots has been done already, including some tree planting, seeding and of course dead tree ๐Ÿ™ removal.

SPEAKING of tree planting…I’ll be joining a bunch of other volunteers this Sunday, May 1st, for another round of seedling sowing.

CONGRATS by the way to Charles Carroll, Associate Transportation Planner at District 10, on being elected Chair of the committee. Applause as well to Rob Williams, of the Motherlode Bicycle Coaltion, on being elected Vice-Chair.

CALTRANS’ Carson Transportation Management Systems Project

Speaking of Caltrans…It held a virual public meeting last week about this project, which “proposes to install traffic management systems and roadside safety improvements in and around the Kirkwood and Carson Pass area at 13 various locations in Amador, El Dorado, and Alpine Counties on State Routes 88, 89, and 4. The scope of work includes changeable message signs, streetlights, vehicle detection systems, closed-circuit television camera systems, roadway weather information systems, highway advisory radios, extinguishable message signs, and maintenance vehicle pullouts.”

SPEAKING of eye-opening…PUBLIC comment was vociferous, especially regarding the signage and the impact those signs would have on areas such as Hope Valley and Markleeville.

COMMENTS are due by May 2nd so if you have something to say about it, let Caltrans know.

Ebbetts And Monitor Passes

ON my ride last week (the same one that I snagged those pix of Blue playing hangbike) the gates were closed at Monitor Junction so no cars could make their way over the passes. Bikes on the other hand…

LET’S just say that I can understand why Hwy. 4 is still closed.

Levels of sediment and rocks showing on Hwy. 4, likely from the Carson as it cut its way through thousands of years ago. Rocks and boulders have come down and can be seen along the side of the highway.

Quite a bit of rockfall (the boulder detritus on the road is just out of frame in the pic. above) and some trees down on the road as well. Since we received some weather here recently I’m guessing there is still some snow up there to be cleared, too.

MRS. California Alps just got back from S. Lake Tahoe and she let me know that signage there indicates Monitor Pass is open. My bet is that Ebbetts will also open soon, perhaps this weekend.

Speaking Of Weather

I caught these quail sheltering from the snow last week. Can you say “hunkered down?”

Last But Not Least

IN yet another sign of spring we spotted this bruin heading towards town on Monday.

Looking pretty porky so early in the season I must say, but hey, that’s how I felt after Easter. Burp.

MY uncle and I spotted this violet springing forth from the ash while on a hike Easter Sunday near HQ.

Happy hump day to you! Have a great backslide into the weekend, and an even better weekend!

Geologic History of the California Alps – A Primer

BACK in October, as I made my way home from a So. Ca. business trip, I stopped in Lone Pine for a nature break. It was there, at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, that I came across the “Geology of the Sierra Nevada,” a Caifornia Natural History Guide, by Mary Hill.

BEING a knowledge junkie, especially about my favorite mountains, I had to pick up the book. Unlike some other guides in my library this one is a good read, made all the more so by some of the nuggets I’ve picked up about the area in and around Markleeville.

BY no means is this an authoritative list, and I’ve just now gotten to chapter 4, yet I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far about my adopted home. By the way, the image at the top of this post (taken just before last weekend’s tree lighting ceremony) has some geologic significance itself, or better writ, the buidling upon which everyone is standing does.

IT’S made from volcanic ash and tuff (remants of a nuรฉe ardente) and as it turns out, so is the Markleeville library.

Ebbetts Pass

EBBETTS Pass, the north/eastern side of which is my favorite climb in the area, has some interesting history too.

JEDEDIAH Strong Smith, a mountain man and trapper, who was 27 at the time (1826) was the first non-Native American to cross the Sierra, and interestingly, he and his party did it from west to east, contrary to what I had always believed, that the Sierra was first crossed by white folks from east to west.

“ON May 20th,” Ms. Hill writes, “Smith tried to cross the mountains again, this time taking two men, seven horses and two mules. It took them eight days, but they made it, probably at Ebbetts Pass, losing only two horses and one mule. It was the first crossing of the great Sierra Nevada by non-Indians, and it was done from west to east.”

SILVER Mountain City on Hwy. 4 between Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Junction (remnants of the old jail can be seen behind Chris) wasn’t even there yet! It too was made of the same material as the courthouse and the library.

A few other data points, if you will:

  • Markleeville Peak, Alpine County (an andesite dome)
  • Silver Peak, Ebbetts Pass (carved from rhyolite dome)
  • Highland Peak, Ebbetts Pass (rhyolite dome; cinder cone on one side)

Carson Pass

IN 1844 it was John Charles Fremont’s (per Ms. Hill called by his admirers “The Pathfinder”) turn to be lucky. Ignoring the map given to him by the local Native Americans (yup, even then – probably since the beginning of time – men ignored directions) he became lost “but did not admit it, and to keep his company’s spirits up, he attempted to cross the range at what today is called Carson Pass. It was February 1844 and the crossing was a very foolhardy thing to do. The party made it by eating half of their horses and mules and on March 6th arrived at Sutter’s Fort.”

THANK goodness for good BBQ, eh? Okay, likely not the best smoked meats (certainly not as good as ‘Toph’s deep pit meat) but I couldn’t resist. ๐Ÿ˜‰

That’s me on Carson Pass, headed towards Markleeville, on my first visit (July of 2016).

SOME other data that matta:

  • Carson Spur, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar – Volcanic Mud Flow)
  • Thimble Peak, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar)
  • Coincidentally there is a nice lahar just north of Markleeville too. Hwy. 89 cut rights through it.

Snowshoe Thompson

JOHN A. “Snowshoe” Thompson was an immigrant, “pioneer Sierran skier. For 20 years, beginning in 1856, Thompson carried the mail across the Sierra Nevada from Placerville, CA to Genoa, NV (then called Morman Station) using long skis (then called snowshoes) of his own making.”

THIS guy was a stud to say the least. Ms. Hill writes that “he carried no blankets and ate lightly. No blizzard ever lost him. He never had an accident and was rarely paid.”

HE did that for twenty years? Holy snow, Batman!

Looking northwest over Diamond Valley, from the Snowshoe Thompson markers.

LUCKY me, I get to say hi to “‘Shoe” as I call him, often, when riding one of my favorite loops out to Diamond Valley from Markleeville. He lived and died at this site.

That’s a wrap!

LIKE I wrote…a primer this post is.

STILL, I hope it gets your lava flowing a bit. What I’ve learned from this book, as well as other sources, since I’ve lived here makes me appreciate the region even more. And to be able to see a lot of these features, and travel some of the same roads and trails as these early explorers and indigenous peoples, is such a privilege.

COME on up, down, or over and experience some of it yourself. It’s an awesome place geologically and hey, there’s some good beer and grub, and soon, SOME SNOW here too.

YOU coming ๐Ÿ™‚ ?