Willow and Burt

Oops,  I forgot the cardinal rule of backpacking in the Sierras- never, ever go without your chiropractor as a hiking buddy.  After a short but hard physical work week, the structural aspect of this body mind had other ideas than spending three days in the bush.  So earlier than anticipated, I am back  in the comforts of Reno versus the wilds of elsewhere.

Getting down to Bridgeport late Friday afternoon just in time to pick up the required wilderness permit for overnighting it in the Hoover Wilderness Area, I noticed the old back was tight  but didn’t think twice about it.  Especially since while getting the permit, this fellow walks into the ranger station  to inform them of an aggressive bear incident at Obsidian Creek camprground, a few miles from where I planned to go.

With the bear report in mind I decided to spend Friday night car camping up nearby Green Creek and get an early start the next morning at Willow Flat and Burt Canyon.  It had been  a windy day, and was now a breezy evening.  Although this was a pain in the butt for pitching a tent, the wind yielded some great cloud photos around sunset.

sunset to dusk

The wind wasn’t bad during the night but a good night’s sleep proved elusive and the next morning  I discovered someone  had snuck into my tent during the night and drove a wedge through several of the vertebrae between my shoulder blades.

Such is incarnate life.  The good news was I got out of the tent just in time to catch the last few seconds of early morning alpenglow as it lit up the mountains that shephard you  to Green Lake.

Backpacking was indeed out but I could still get in some decent hiking before sounding the retreat.  So I packed up the tent and drove back into Bridgeport to grab some breakfast before proceeding onward.

While nursing my disappointment over a generous stack of pancakes, I could see Matterhorn Peak and the Sawtooth Range through the window of the bustling cafe.  Lotsa fisherman around here, also motor cyclists, backpackers and photographers, all traveling the Hi-way 395 corridor with many other scenery oriented people.

The clouds that were over Green Lake earlier this morning seemed to have made their way to Twin Lakes, and were now moving over the top of those mountains.

It is an easy hike up Willow Flat into Burt Canyon.  Very expansive and  although not as dramatic as some of the other areas close by, this is a sweet spot.  The trailhead is up Little Walker River Road, off of  hi-way 395, a half mile south of the junction of hi-ways 108 and 395.  You will pass Obsidian Creek Campground on your left as you get close. It is about three miles up the road. The parking area is large and well marked but you can  take a left on Forest Service road 66C just before the parking area and drive another mile.  There are a couple of places to park just before the road is gated.  Save a few steps.

Looking up Little Walker River Road

The trail skirts around much of Willow Flat amidst aspen and pines before opening up through grasses and willows prior to the land squeezing in  and becoming Burt Canyon.

With the back having won the argument of just how much to do this weekend, I paced myself, relishing the finer details of the trail and it’s occupants  as much as the huge sweep of sky and mountains, talus slopes, aged pine trees and hanging rock gardens.

Willow Flat with Burt Canyon beyond. Mt. Emma is on the right and the Little Walker River in the foreground.

Aspen mating season-4 bucks vie for the attention of this slender female.

Sierra wildlife.

The root ball of an upturned pine tree.

Mt. Emma, 10,525 ft.

The waters drain from both sides of the valley and canyon, running to the middle to provide crossing opportunities. Low snow pack this year  = low runoff, though.

Transitioning from Willow Flat to Burt Canyon

Go straight to Paiute Canyon ( just off the middle mountain) turn left and continue to upper Burnt Canyon.

Never give up.

You  might notice a smudged area on a few of the photos.  Even though I had to come back early, my lens cap decided to stay, running free without any more worldly responsibilities, such as keeping my camera lens clean of smudges from clumsy fingers.  In other words.  I lost it somewhere in the Sierras.  My apologies to all you Virgos out there.


Chameleon rock.

I only went in  a total of three miles or so from where the car was parked.  But as many tracks as there were on the trail, I encountered no one the whole day.  Saw some bear scat too.  But thankfully didn’t see him either.

The twusty Wubaru awaits the wide home.

Thanks for taking some LIP from me,


P.S.  As always, clicking on the photos will enlarge them and provide you with a grander viewing experience.


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