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Sally and I Escaped the Smoke and Heat for a Few Days

Sally and I had reached a threshold where we just had to get out of the smoke and heat but with Hwy 41, 140, 120 and then 108 all closed to the eastern side, it was time get serious about our escape. So, we drove south down Hwy 99 to Bakersfield across Tehachapi and up 395. Smoke was following us in all of our driving, so where could we go? Sally is my dog and travel companion so we talked it over and decided go high. Maybe we could get out of it and that is what we did. We visited places over 10,000′ elevation.

Our first adventure was to Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, east of Big Pine, and next week’s blog will have more on that, but here is a sneak peek of a hike that we took along the Methuselah Trail, starting at 10,400′ elevation, through the world’s oldest bristlecone pines.

The Methuselah Tree is estimated to be 4,849 years old. That means it germinated around 2833 BC. They won’t tell you where that tree is located to protect it but they said we walked by it. There is one other in the area even older than that one and many a few years younger. We took a close look at very old wood.

We located an old mine not far away and had to check it out. The Reed Mine (later the Mexican Mine) was full of old diggings and even had some old miner’s cabins to see.

We headed back to the Visitor’s Center, then to our campsite at Grandview Campground, down the road 5 miles.

Sally and I drove up to Saddlebag Lake Campground (10,000′ elevation) in the Tioga Pass area the next morning. We did a little fishing (not catching).

We watched the morning reflections in Saddlebag Lake.

Sally found a good stick to play with.

We went back to our campsite and I sat in the hammock for a while watching clouds.

The next day we took a little hike.

We did a little more fishing, this time catching.

We then headed back to camp. Please take a close look at those clouds because 1 and 1/2 hours after these pictures were taken, things changed.

We arrived at camp just in time because it started raining about 30 minutes after we got in. We got in where it was warm and dry and listened to the rain come down for a couple of hours. We had the perfect vacation from the heat and smoke but are now back, refreshed and not as cranky.


Saddlebag Lake (upper left) and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (lower right)



  1. Wonderful! Thank you!

  2. Were there many other campers around at Saddlebag Lake?

    • Thursday night there were only 4 campsites occupies (out of 25). One more person may have come in later that evening. At most the campground was 1/4 to 1/2 full. I was amazed . . . and very happy to have it less peopley. There also weren’t many folks fishing on the lake.

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