Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Benton crags-wonderment

Rock grotto-Benton Crags
more pix on picasawebsite

Another blowy day, steady at 30 mph, i coccooned in working on projects, and the time flew. But i hadda get outta dodge, check the mail, see if the people at the cafe are still there, doing their cafe thing. Pulled out about 3, returned ann's new yorker which somehow got put in my box, they just cant get it right down at the po. then out on the road again, on a quest, for who knows what? first the line of aspens up toward the pass on the Benton crossing rd. Few leaves left, but those are glowing in the sun framed in pinons and adding an ethereal note to the landscape. I unleash the nikon d90 on them and get some fine results and collect some to send to judy.

I check out the cliffs east of the road on the way up, and recall there is a road from the top that might lead there. My fantasy is to do a hike from top to bottom thru the granite bosses, cut by fractures which erode out to selective paths, some blocked by pinons, but there always is a way through. It looks spectacular, like the Alabama hills, rounded bosses of granite sliced by furrows of fractures and light aplite dikes.

Out the track above find the road ends just above the maze of boulders. I am drawn to such places, they always harbor surprises, and beautiful sculptures. Head into the puckerbrush, sage and sand with a dusting of fresh snow. I focus on a dike, that reflects the fractures in the bedrock, and snap a few megapixels. It looks like a dropoff down the gully, so i peer over the top and look down 100 feet, not the right path. Scrutinizing the rocks, always on the outlook for petros, i see one, but its modern "HC" in fresh granite. Looking more closely there are other marks, faint but true, in the enigmatic shape of the local petros, by indians long ago. wow, if i can get down there, maybe there will be more, but ill have to find another way.

Breaking out of the gully, I try another route, again a major dropoff, guarded by a spire of granite and snap the scene, glass mt behind it, really cool, i can see this as another in a quiver of local hikes i can treat friends to. Back out and another path opens, a narrow slot between granite cliffs, but it goes, down into the next valley, through some tough trees, and along a snowy slope and into the bottom of the gully. I turn upstream, petro wards, and find a sculpture garden with arching grottos, carved by pleistocene torrents rotating rocks in cavities forming major potholes. This is very cool, I enter the grotto and admire the work of water. It still goes up into another grotto, and there on the wall is a fantastic display of petros, rivers, animals, paths, etched into the back wall. I try some flash pictures, and it looks like i got something , but its dark in there and there are rocks in front of the scene, so not a good place to be ansel adams. tricky light. oh well. i come back several times, try to get up into the shelf across the pond, but chicken out, no one knows im up here and it would be weeks before they found my truck if i couldn't get out on my own. Careful, careful, i keep saying, wishing i had my hiking sticks and helmet.

Back down the gully to the open meadow, and great vistas to glass mt and the valley over precipitous drops, another knickpoint, must be gorgeous with runoff from big rain or snowmelt. Getting late, and colder, i have on gloves, sweater, shell and merrills, not the best footwear, but i am careful. Return in my steps and take in the petros again, the place robert had taken kailen and friends, and ran into some indians having a ceremony, no one here now. Following footsteps in the snow, and back to the truck, a feeling of accomplishment, and joy at being here in paradise of the east sierra, with wonderment at every turn.


Andrew Alden, Oakland Geology blog said...

I'd love to take this hike some time.

MJBlog said...

Finding the petros sounds like it made the hike. Hoping to see some petros in Nevada in April. Boy Scout merit badge for telling folks where yer hikin' next time, don't want to get "petrified" up there with the petros dude. Cool to read of your adventures down there.