9/27 - IHOP A Bust; Esparto Busted For Good?

by Shneor Sherman

I arrived at IHOP at 5:45, and began to set up despite the smoky skies. Jeff arrived around 6:30, we talked a bit about the smoke, then decided to leave and stop off at the Ranger station to see if they had any information as to the extent of the smoke; unfortunately, they did not. But they did give me a map of the "Crystal Basin Recreation ARea", and one told me her family went to this place called Big Hill to look at the stars. It's on the map, and is about 7 miles past the Peavine Road turnoff, further up Icehouse Road. There's no traffic, as it's a dead-end "Vista Point" at an elevation of 6155 feet. The ranger also called it a helipad. Sound to me as though it's worth a look!

Those are the two good things - meeting Jeff and the Ranger giving me the map and telling the story. Jeff was going try Blue Canyon (about 2 hours from IHOP); I decided to try Esparto because the smoke looked pretty pervasive. I arrived at Esparto around 9, and was happy driving in as the Milky Way was quite visible overhead and to the southwest....but the neighbor had left on an outside light that simply ruins night vision everywhere. The light is on even though they haven't been there for weeks. So I guess we can scratch Esparto as an obserivng site until further notice. Maybe they will move?

Anyway, back to Big Hill - there's a paved road to Big Hill 4 miles after the Peavine Road turnoff; it's 3 miles to the top. The next time I'll be able to observe will be October 25. I'm thinking of driving to Big Hill to at least check it out, if it looks good, to observe there.