Yuba Pass Road, Forest Route 54, and Frazier Falls
The high elevation trails and roads are almost ready! Today's outing took us from the Webber Lake Area north or Truckee, CA through a section of the Tahoe National Forest. We came out of the forest in Bassetts, CA, which is the south entrance to the Lakes Basin Area and the start of the Gold Lake Highway. From there, we made our way up to Frazier Falls. The time of year was right to see the falls at its best!
Before heading north from Webber Lake, we made a stop at Webber Falls. It's a very picturesque falls, and since we failed to find it one spring when we had guests with us (Chad and Shannon), it's nice to be able to find it when we want to now. As we made our way down Forest Route 54 from Yuba Pass Road we could see the Sierra Buttes area towering over Upper and Lower Sardine Lakes. It had rained recently so the road was moist enough to avoid being dusty, but not so soft we were leaving ruts. The area felt very fresh and green, almost like the Oregon coast we experienced last Thanksgiving in Coos Bay, Oregon. For the most part the road was simple and easy to drive. There were, however, several snow drifts left over from winter that required careful driving to make sure we didn't get ourselves stuck or slide off the road into the trees.
We found the perfect spot for lunch that had a view of the Sierra Buttes. While we were sitting there, a huge flock of what we believe were pelicans migrated through the valley below us. It was quite a site, and the pelicans took a very wandering route...almost as though they were having difficulty knowing how to fly over the next set of mountains.
What did I learn?
The snow drifts this time of year are very dense and can actually be travelled over pretty easily so long as you avoid spinning your tires and digging in. They still warrant caution, and a few times I got out and walked the route before I drove through it. We were carrying a shovel and hand winch, but I really didn't want to use either.
Webber Falls, the falls we tried to reach with our friends Chad and Shannon Quigley but never made it despite hiking in the snow for a few hours. We've been here twice now, and maybe we'll get a chance to take them someday.
Wasn't the first time we've had to remove debris from the road, won't be the last. I was thankful it didn't require a chainsaw. We don't carry one with us and turning back is never fun. We've had to do that for snow a few times, and a huge downed tree at once.
This part of California is literally a checkerboard of public and private land, typically made up of 1 mile by 1 mile squares. The contrast between old growth and new growth is shown here, on opposite sides of the road.
The original route I charted took us all the way to HWY 49 on Yuba Pass Road. I am glad we took the cutoff that brought us down into Bassetts because we had occasional and wonderful views of the Sierra Buttes.
This shot is representative of the route from Webber Lake to Bassetts, CA.
Even though it was only 37 degrees when we stopped, the limited wind in this spot combined with the occasional sun made this a great place for lunch. I even made a GAIA Waypoint so I can send someone here in the future.
That Jeep had a nice view for lunch too.
As we sat and ate lunch, staring out at the buttes, a large flock of pelicans made their way through the area. It was a treat to watch. The birds in this photo amount to about half of what we saw.
There's a vista point on the Gold Lake Highway just a little way up grade from Bassetts Station. It's always nice to stop and take a shot of the buttes from this location.
This shot was taken on the rocks immediately next to Frazier Falls. We hadn't crawled down into this area before today. It was worth it but we definitely felt close to the cliffs' edge.
Frazier Falls from the official lookout. It's fun to see this falls it with a steady stream of water coming through.