Here is a view from one of those scary “shelf” roads which are narrow dirt/rock roads that wind all around the outside of a mountain. I’m at 9,000 feet in elevation here and had stopped to paint this peek at Mono Lake when a nice couple came by and stopped to see what I was up to way out here in the wilderness. They took a video of me painting this and promised to send me a copy. Anyhow, these roads tend to be so narrow, sometimes very rocky with washed-out parts, that you consider yourself lucky if you don’t meet anyone coming toward you, because one side is straight up and the other is straight down and there is nowhere to go, and one of you has to back up. Luckily I had found a rare wide spot in the road to stop and they were able to get by me. I always hold my breath when I’m on one of those roads, but this time I wasn’t too worried because I had a fairly new car and brand new tires, and I do enjoy those hundred-mile eagle-point-of view vistas even if it’s inconvenient.
This is the cabin in which I stayed at Convict Lake. The aspens here were still greenish, while other aspen groves elsewhere were golden or even bright red in the sun. There was a nice porch on which to sit and sketch, but it was too cold most of the time, with one night of snow flurries.
Gardnerville is a town in Nevada which is the last town before one drives up in elevation on Hwy 395. It is all ranch land, with soil that’s not really great for growing things but perfect for cattle. The wind and dust subsided during the night and instead we had a sprinkling of new snow in the mountains. It was a beautiful day to be driving.
And here’s the lake I stayed at. It is at 7,582 feet in elevation (2,311 meters) and is a glacial lake surrounded by high peaks. It got it’s name from an actual event that happened in 1871, a REAL western drama which you can read about here if interested: http://www.convictlake.com/history.html The mountain to the left is called Mount Morrison, in honor of the lawman who was killed in this event. Today there is a nice resort (where I stayed) and one of the BEST restaurants in the eastern Sierras, with a lovely campground and a 3-mile trail all around the lake.
Here was another “shelf road” from which I got a peek at Mono Lake waaaaay down in the valley. There were aspens just beginning to turn, and a nice couple came by behind me and took a video of me painting this. They promised to send me a copy, so I can’t wait to see how it turned out. This is at about 9,000 feet in elevation. As I came back down in elevation there were meadows with sheep herds, and I kept thinking that being a sheepherder would be an IDEAL sort of job for me.
I found this twisted old Pinion Pine on a dirt side road which they call a “shelf road” as it winds all around a mountain’s side. They are always very narrow, consisting of dirt and gravel, filled with fallen rocks and washed out parts. I’m always relieved to usually be the only one on one of those roads as I would have no idea how to let an oncoming car get by since there is no room and nowhere to turn around, and one side goes almost straight up and the other side goes straight dpwn—-and I mean waaaaaay down. But when I’m by myself I have a good time on those roads and the views are usually spectacular. It seems I traveled a whole lot of “shelf roads” during this trip. This year the pinion nut harvest was huge and every tree seemed to be packed with cones bearing nuts.
Here is early morning in Gardnerville, Nevada, with a new dusting of snow on the mountains and those gorgeous meadows at the foot of the mountains.
This is Jack’s Valley, just south of Carson City, Nevada. It’s actually mostly desert country, except where there are creeks and rivers coming off the mountains. That tends to be beautiful grazing ranch land. The day I was here there were gusts of wind up to 100 m.p.h. and I thought my car would be sandblasted and even though I started out clean by the end of the day there was dust everywhere—even in my teeth! The yellow stuff in front is rabbit brush in full bloom this time of year. It’s one of my favorite desert plants and the bees love it.
I’m back from a lovely vacation. Filled a whole Moly with watercolors of places where I stopped. Lots of mountain scenery. The new Moly begins with this view of the route I took, driving along the eastern encarpment of the Sierra Nevadas.