Dome Land Wilderness
June 25-27, 2005
A view looking west over the Dome Land Wilderness from the Rockhouse Basin Trail
Paul and John Doe at the wilderness Boundary sign
The Dome Land Wilderness is one of the southernmost wilderness areas in the Sierra Nevada.  It encompasses 94,686 acres and its elevations range from 3,000' to 9,730'  Most of the Wilderness is between the North and South Fork Kern Rivers, both of which afford one of the highest land protection designations available...  Both are "Wild and Scenic Rivers"  Click here for more info on Wild and Scenic Rivers  http://www.nps.gov/rivers/

The Dome Land Wilderness derives its name from the unique granitic domes found throughout the area.  Vegetation ranges from chaparral and pinyon pine woodlands in the lower elevations to Jeffrey pine, white and red fir, and lodgepole pine in the upper elevations.  The area in which we hiked was mostly in the upper elevations and we saw some of the biggest Jeffrey pine, white fir, and lodgepole pines that I have ever seen!

And, as I found out, there are many, many, many! species of wildflowers that grow throughout the Dome Land Wilderness.  In fact, I think it would be easier to name the Sierra Nevada Wildflowers that we didn't see!  And we even saw a few that one does not typically associate with the Sierra, including prickly pear in bloom up at about 7,500'!  Here are some of the wildflowers I found...

Purple Nightshade
Shooting Stars
Mariposa Lilies
Indian Paintbrush
Mule's Ears
Chinese Houses
Mustang Clover
Larkspur
Penstemon
Monkeyflower
2 kinds of Violets
Ceanothus
Geranium
Phlox
2 kinds of Lupine
Prickly Poppy
Pride of the Mountains
Snowplant
Wallflower
Creek Dogwood
Bridge's Gilia
Scarlet Gilia
Yarrow
Wild Onion
Wild Rose
Phacelia
Buttercup
Pussy Paws
Blue Dicks
At least 6 different kinds of DYC's
Prickly Pear Cactus

We saw lots of wildlife and wildlife signs - birds galore, trout in the creek, the biggest jack rabbit that I'd ever seen (the "Giant Man-eating Rabbit of Manter Meadow"), deer tracks, mountain lion scat, and mtmnslady saw a couple of rattle snakes. 

The plan was to meet mtmnslady, her friend Paul, John Doe, Hikerchic, and Naviguesser at the South Manter Trailhead at 10:00 am on Saturday.  I got there about 10 minutes before 10 and waited...  and waited.  Around 10:30 I started getting nervous that no one would show!  So I drove up to the North Manter Trailhead just to see if anyone was there.  I drove back to the south TH and then a little further south just to check.  Then I returned to the South Trailhead and shortly afterwards John Doe arrived.  He said that Hikerchic and Naviguesser should be right behind him.  So we waited.  A few minutes later mtmnslady and Paul showed up.  Then we waited longer.  We ended up finally leaving the TH at 11:42, we signed on the register the time that we left and we hoped that Hikerchic and Naviguesser would catch up.  John Doe said that Naviguesser had said he'd been to the Manter Meadow area before, so I wasn't worried that they wouldn't be able to find us... 

Well, turns out that Naviguesser and Hikerchic got a little lost and finally got to the trailhead around noon and started hiking.  But we never ran into each other :( Manter Meadow is a big meadow and there are lots of campsites around it and we both were looking and shouting across it at times, but we never heard them and they never heard us.  So I was sorry I never got to meet Naviguesser and Hikerchic but it sounds like they had a nice time anyway, as did we.

Well, I already wrote a pretty good trip report in my hiking journal, so here goes...

"Camping at Manter Meadow in the Dome Land Wilderness.  Drinking Tang from my mug and eating trail mix.  Hiked here yesterday with mtmnslady, her friend Paul, and John Doe.  Met up with rayestrella who got a late start and we were hoping to meet up with Hikerchic and Naviguesser who also got late starts, but we never found them...  It's a big meadow, over a mile long!

We've got a great campsite at the eastern edge of the Meadow next to Manter Creek and we even have our own granite dome.  But we're not the only ones here.  I'm watching 3 chickarees chase and chatter at each other.  There's also a huge alligator lizard getting a suntan over on a rock near our kitchen.  And there are lots of birds calling now and then to break the sound of the wind in the pines.

This is a cool place.  Spectacular rock formations, quiet little creeks, and emerald green meadows.  Tons of flowers blooming and we saw deer tracks and mountain lion scat.  We even heard a tree fall earlier this morning!  That was very cool... 

Hiked today to the edge of Rockhouse Basin - a steep hike at the end to get up there and did I ever feel small once I made it to the divide - there's nothing to be seen out there - just mountains, rocks, and sky.  An absolutely enormous expanse of nothing - no people, no roads, and no trails (except for one or two really overgrown ones!) 

Yes, it's not a very well maintained trail to get out there, it probably gets very little use.  But that's okay, it made for a little more exciting hike as we had to bushwack and route find.  Had a little trouble crossing Manter Creek a few times, got one of my boots wet.  There are trout in this creek but I can't tell if they're rainbows or goldens.

It smells good out here - the vanilla smell of the Jeffrey pines, the wild onions blooming in the sandy soil along the creek, and the fragrant smell of pine needles and pine cones mixing together. 

Some of the area out here burned in the Manter Fire of 2000.  But even in the burned area it's beautiful as the wildflowers have taken over!  There are expanses of mustang clover interspersed with lupine, ceanothus, scarlet gilia, and others.

Well, before I get stiff, I'm going to stop writing and stand up and stretch..."
One of the first domes we see hiking down to Manter Meadow
Penstemon
Larkspur
Snowplant
Manter Meadow
Some of the area burned in the Manter Fire 5 years ago - not all the trees are dead and the flowers are lovin it!
Penstemon, scarlet gilia, and ceanothus above
Carpets of mustang clover below
Mtmnslady held up this rock just long enough for me to pass
Sign near our campsite
We had our very own dome at our campsite
John Doe and Paul at the north end of Manter Meadow
And the very lively Manter Creek was full of trout and just steps away...
My tent underneath the Lodgepole pines and my gear tree
Close up of my gear tree
Mtmnslady wins the Comfiest Camper award! 
Kicking back in her sling chair
Or maybe John Doe does, lol
John Doe and Rayestrella
Now you're wondering, what the heck??
These two tiny pigs are the "dice" in a game called "Pass the Pigs" which we had fun playing that night.  Aren't they cute?  I have this feeling that the pigs are going to be photographed more in the future on more backpacking trips ;)
I liked the way the late afternoon light was lighting up patches of the ground that were covered in pine needles and little perfect cones
A very photogenic pine at the eastern edge of Manter Meadow
Shooting stars grew throughout Manter Meadow
John Doe and Paul ahead of me on the Trail east to Rockhouse Basin
Mtmnslady behind me
A geranium, I believe...  A very photogenic flower.
I'm not sure about this one yet...
John Doe sitting in a sea of little yellow sunflowers
While Mtmnslady rested, John Doe, Paul, and I pushed on to the divide above Rockhouse Basin
The trail was steep, rocky, unshaded, and hard to follow...  but just look at all those flowers!
Near the top looking south to Church Dome
Prickly Pear and other flowers in bloom at ~7,500'
Phlox
Pride of the Mountains
Rockhouse Peak north of us
Manter Creek flowing through Manter Meadow
Taylor Dome is on the left
Pride of the Mountains with Manter Creek in the background
John Doe made us a great campfire and brought marshmellows to roast (or burn, the only way I'll eat them is if they're black!)
Mtmnslady hiking out
Paul won for "Heaviest Backpack" - he said it was a lot lighter for the hike out because he'd eaten all his food
I stopped to take a picture of Big Meadow on our drive out
There were lots of wildflowers along the Cherry Hill Road, this is a prickly poppy I believe
What a gorgeous area of the Sierra Nevada!
Mtmnslady's Pictures
More about this area

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