Adventuring in California – Of Drought and Shoe Trees

I spent part of Easter Sunday adventuring, or to coin a new phrase; nerdventuring, at Pinecrest Lake. The nerdventure began with my friend suggesting we go checkout the water level at Pinecrest in order to preview possible summer activities, or lack thereof.  Sounded like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon so I hopped in the truck to head up to Sonora, pick her up and check out the lake.

As usual when I’m driving I had to fight the urge to stop and photograph all the cool (perceived or real) stuff I saw along the way.  A historical marker here, another one there, cows grazing on a rolling hill, the occasional California Oak in just the right light…what?! Railtown Historic park?!…I’ll get that on the way back.

I eventually lost the battle when I saw this:

Shoe Tree







Look closer:

Shoe Limb






What the?! A shoe tree?








I had seen one of these shoe trees before in the desert somewhere along Route 66; hadn’t realized they’d migrated this far north. They produce some odd cones.




















After several minutes of “ooo’ing” and “awww’ing” we continued on to Pinecrest.  I hadn’t been there since I was a kid so while I could tell the water level was down, it was difficult to tell by  how much.







The usual water level is up near the tree line. While the water being this low is a bit sad, it does reveal some pretty cool otherwise unseen things

Stumps for instance:







Wood grain:














Rock towers:

















Wonder how they stay balanced when the lake is full? 😉

California is bone dry and many communities are struggling with the lack of water, including Pinecrest obviously. Despite the situation there are signs of life going on which give one hope.


















Then there was this brilliant tree that felt it needed some extra support:








One thing I learned from this nerdventure, aside from the fact that shoe trees are more widespread than I previously thought, was either learn how to take pictures that avoid the glare of the sun or get a filter for my camera.  Oh, and one more photo taken with my phone’s panorama feature (I was really excited to use it).







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