Friday, May 18, 2012

Sutter Creek to Coleville...

Interstate 80 over Donner Pass is the preferred crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Highway 88 or Carson Pass would be the likely second choice.  As it was closest to our departure point at Don and Joan's in Ione/Sutter Creek, and on a Thursday...probably not a heavy traffic day, that was our route of choice.  Two lanes with lots of pull-outs, no grade over 7%, and a summit elevation of 8,000+ feet, this very scenic route proved easy enough for us to negotiate in our motorhome towing the jeep Wrangler.

The heavy cloud cover precluded really good photos but we managed a few, especially near the summit at Caples Lake, and descending the eastern slopes.

Caples Lake near Carson Pass summit

And descending the eastern slopes

Clouds make for a nice effect thru bug-stained windows

On highway 395 heading south

We are staying at the Meadowcliff RV Park, one of our Passport America discount parks.  We paid $20 per night (2 nights) for full service, 50 amp hookups, fast wifi, and a beautiful setting.

The jeep is US!

Right outside our door looking west!

A nice walking trail

We spent most of today on a fast exploration of the Topaz Lake, Walker River, and Sonora Pass areas near our home base, stopping frequently to check out Forest Service campgrounds that would accommodate RVs.  Bootleg Campground is a short distance south of Walker on the west side of Highway 395, and suitable for larger rigs, though it doesn't have much ambiance.  Chris Flat Campground, a few miles further south, is beautiful, right on the Walker River with nice open camp sites, but also right on 395.  We did, however, find a perfect spot, at least for a night or two as we headed up Sonora Pass on Highway 108.  Sonora Bridge Campground is located just off Hwy. 108 on the edge of the Walker River Canyon.  There are a few large, open sites, even pull-thrus, with no hookups of course, for $6 per night with our Golden Age Pass.  

Back to today:  We continued up Sonora Pass, including a 25% grade, to the summit at about 9500' motorhomes or RVs please, pulling off frequently for photos.  Leavitt Falls was spectacular from its precarious viewpoint, as was the Walker River Valley.

Hanging on...

Many views of Walker River
Leavitt Falls

Walker River Canyon from above

Back on the highway, I suggested an alternate route home.  On our map Burcham Flat Road looked like a good alternative to 395.  It started off totally innocuous, flat with miles of sagebrush staging the snowy Sierras in the background.

But then the tempo changed as our dirt track narrowed and climbed to gain altitude with its neighboring peaks.  The road had deteriorated from recent snow, wind and rain, and we hugged the cliff...first up, then down.

Steep and narrow!

Then down...

If you look really close there is a tiny piece of Hwy. 395 down there....

As we approached Topaz Lake, we were rewarded with a field of wildflowers and beautiful lake views.

Enough excitement for one day!

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