Friday, November 28, 2008

Upper Elevations

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Bear Valley Springs encompasses approximately 25,000 acres of land ranging in elevation from 4,118 feet to 6,934 feet. We are at that lower elevation, down on the valley floor in an area that was once one of the hay fields when the Fickert family ranched here.

I have spent most of this week exploring the ridges that surround us and seeing how the mountain folks live. The extreme elevation in our community is Bear Mountain and I won’t be hiking to that peak, but I have been on the roads along the ridges where the elevation is, 5,000 feet and above. All I know is that from some of those spots where I found a place to pull off the road, Bear Valley Road looks very tiny down there on the valley floor. And there aren’t many of those opportunities to park. In far too many places, the winding, twisting two lane roads have spots two feet wide, or less, before the 1000 feet (give or take) drop off. Even though there was very little traffic up there, I missed some tempting vantage points. I wasn't gutsy enough to stop on the road and risk surprising someone coming around a curve.

Thanks to my explorations, I have my bearings—you can’t imagine what an accomplishment that is for me. Unfortunately, in addition to being numerically illiterate, I am geographically challenged. Lucky for me, the roads in Bear Valley Springs are laid out in such a way that even I can’t get lost. And now, that I have a better sense of my area—and even have some favorite spots marked on my map, I may spend a little more time checking out the higher elevations. That is if I can keep my vertigo in check. After the first two days of driving around—pulling off at rural mailboxes and wider spots in roads to poke around out on the edge of the ridges, I snuggled under the covers a tired, but happy photographer only to have trouble sleeping. Just as I would begin to drift off, I would slip and go over the edge of a bluff. Not fun and not the least bit relaxing. On the other hand, maybe I will trade off between exploring the valley floor and poking around up there in the clouds.


  1. Lovely views from on high, Anita. I, too, like to do this types of explorations. It's always a challenge to drive, gawk, and stay on the road! :-) We, as photographers, I've found, tend to gawk a bit too much while driving! Wouldn't you say? ;-) Keep exploring and be safe!

  2. Paul - You are so right. Constant distractions from the road, I'm afraid. Interesting sights to the left, to the right, up above, and often down below. Since I have driven up on the ridges only mornings and early afternoons, I am not encountering many people returning from their day's work or errands. So far, the very light traffic allows me to travel very slowly. I shall continue to do so, thank you.

  3. I envy having the higher elevations nearby. With the highest point in my state being only about 2000 feet (and very far from where I live), you tend to have yearnings for being up high once in awhile!

  4. Mark - Having lived for a few decades in central Texas, I know what you mean. I feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful place and I suppose that I will get my fill of being up high.

    I must say that, judging by your photography, your part of the country is quite beautiful. I have never had the pleasure of getting to know that area.


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