Thursday, September 3, 2009

Devil's Post Pile Day 1 (Thursday)

The first time I set my eyes on Mammoth was at the beginning of our vacation to Yosemite when Ali was a baby. And I fell in love. I am not sure what makes me in love with it but I think it has something to do with the combinations of sage brush, tall pine trees, and green meadows with creeks running through them. It reminds me of home. I think I love the Mammoth area more than all other mountain areas put together. We have been there several times for vacation and still plan on going many more times. This time we decided to camp at Devil's Post Pile National Monument. We had thought about going there before but the pricey enterance fee always drove us to other cheaper destinations.

Devil's Post Pile is down a canyon from the Mammoth ski resort on the backside. It is accessible by driving over the pass near Mammoth and then down a steep, curvy, narrow road. Only those who camp are allowed to drive down the road... the rest take shuttle busses. As we drove over the top of the pass I knew we had chosen our trip wisely. This is what we saw.... I couldn't believe the beautiful scenery and remembered how much I loved the jagged peaks of the minarets. The drive down was beautiful. Each corner brought a new type of scenery. We saw huge granite boulder fields, piles of volcanic rock, meadows, tiny waterfalls, creeks, lakes and aspen trees.

I had read about the different campgrounds and knew that I wanted to camp in Red's Meadow. There is a hot springs there and they have piped the water down to showers that are a constant warm (the kids think too hot,) temperature. Camping is always nicer with showers. So we drove until we got almost to the end of the road where Red's Meadow campground is. We found our campsite complete with secret hiding spots, our own grassy area and a little creek with a foot bridge.

We spent the early afternoon setting up camp, watching the kids wash their crystal rocks (they picked them up on a break somewhere in the desert,) laying around taking cat naps and stretching from the long car ride. The camp was very quiet and peaceful.

After the tent was set up and our foot was stored in the bear box we headed out for our first outing. We decided to go see what Devil's Post Pile was. We didn't tell the kids where we were going or what we were planning to see. So each new thing was a surprise for them. As we were driving out of camp we saw a deer and her baby in the tree-covered meadow. The trailhead for Devil's Post Pile starts at the ranger station. No one can drive in the area except for those camping and it made the parking lot peaceful and quiet. The first thing you see is a meadow with the San Joquin River running through it. I was in heaven. I loved meadows with rivers running through them high in the Sierras. Ali thought the meadow must be the surprise but we said no. We headed down the .4 mile trail to see Devil's Post Pile. We figured if we did the easiest trail first and then worked up the kids would enjoy it more. I was also eager to do this trail on Thursday afternoon so that we wouldn't have to contend with nearly the amount of people.

The walk down the trail was easy and fun. Ashling loved to be the leader the whole way. Ali was content to follow and worked on her skills as a butterfly catcher. She has evolved from being a butterfly catcher with a net to a butterfly catcher who does not need a net. I think she caught two butteflies before we encouraged her to keep hiking. Cameron then held her hand and it was so cute I couldn't resist taking her picture.

Devil's Post Pile is a bunch of volcanic rocks that have made the most interesting forms. They look like a lumber yard of trees only they are stone. I guess you can google it if you want all the details of how they are formed. But to us it was just really cool to see. The kids pointed to it and we said that this is what we had come to see. Ali wanted to read all about it but when the scientific words had her stumbling she asked Cameron to finish. We decided to hike to the top to see the Post Pile looking down on it. All of the rocks are shaped in hexagons and when you hike to the top of the pile you can see this very clearly. The girls loved to hike on the rocks at the top but I remembered the cliffs and insisted that they sit down. I could just imagine Ashling falling off the edge when she tripped. After admiring natures pavement we finished our loop off and decided that we needed to explore that meadow a little more. We hiked back to the bridge that went over the river and then crossed it into the meadow. In the meadow there was a little soda springs. This is where the water bubbles out of the ground and then runs off into the river. I thought it was pretty cool to see the water bubbling out of the ground. We enjoyed the meadow and Cameron wished for his fishing pole. I was glad we had left it at home. Ali learned to skip rocks and Cameron skipped the flat stones clear across the river. Annika enjoyed sitting in the meadow and taking in the scenery with me. Ashling tried to skip rocks but just mostly threw them in the river. Then the girls decided that they needed to cool off their feet and waded into the river. They wanted to go out to the rocks but I realized the river was deeper than I thought and made them be content to play at the side. This is my favorite picture of the meadow. I would love to put my log cabin here and make my living being a farmers wife. Or maybe a mountain man's wife? When it was getting chilly and we felt hungry we left our peaceful meadow to return to camp. The tri tip steaks and baked beans were calling our name. I love this bridge and would love to take a thousand pictures of it but I need a better camera.


Elise said...

My first trip to Mammoth was during the summer. It was so beautiful! We hiked to Devil's Postpile and then to Rainbow Falls. I loved it! We've been back many, many times, but only during the winter for me. Love the snowboarding there!

Jesse said...

I remember doing this hike as a kid. It is still one of the most unique things I have seen. And I remember making sparkling Cool- Aid with at the soda springs. So much fun!