Category

Sierra Nevada

Lathe Arch, Alabama Hills, California

Sierra Nevada

Lathe Arch, Alabama Hills, Sierra Nevada, California

Lathe Arch in the Alabama Hills is one of my favorite natural arches. Lathe Arch is quite accessible but relatively hidden in the sense that it is easy to walk right by it without even noticing it. I first photographed Lathe Arch, along with its more famous cousin Mobius Arch, about 12 years ago. I’ve returned to Mobius Arch and Lathe Arch a number of times since and have always enjoyed them in solitude … until this year. They have become popular spots (there is even a developed trail leading to them now!) which is not surprising since they make for great photographs. I believe many of the photo tour/workshops that have popped up in recent years visit these arches but my sense is that working Lathe Arch and Mobius Arch on your own is the way to go since the space around these arches is quite limited. Plus, these are very nice spots to simply be alone to take in a cold Eastern Sierra dawn. Alone is best by far, two people is doable, three gets a little much, any more and you will save yourself considerable aggravation by instead heading up Whitney Portal Road to photograph the mountain or some of the other arches and features of the beautiful and stark Alabama Hills.

Made on separate days, Lone Pine Peak is seen in both images but Mount Whitney is only seen in the first image (being obscured by clouds in the second). Thanks for looking!

Mount Whitney and Lone Pine Peak are framed by Lathe Arch in the Alabama Hills at sunrise, California, Alabama Hills Recreational Area

Mount Whitney and Lone Pine Peak are framed by Lathe Arch in the Alabama Hills at sunrise, California.
Image ID: 27624
Location: Alabama Hills Recreational Area, California, USA

Lathe Arch and Lone Pine Peak, sunrise, Alabama Hills Recreational Area

Lathe Arch and Lone Pine Peak, sunrise.
Image ID: 27650
Location: Alabama Hills Recreational Area, California, USA

California Fall Color in the Eastern Sierra

Sierra Nevada

In the next month I hope to once again make a brief trip to Bishop, California to enjoy the changing colors of the quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides). Below are the websites and photographers I follow to stay abreast of how conditions are changing as the autumn season progresses. I will be carrying several cameras with me this year so I don’t have to change lenses in the field. The lenses I find most useful are 16-35 or 15mm fisheye, 24-105, 70-200. I will also carry a small Lumix LX3 infrared-converted camera with which the below image was shot:

Aspen trees in fall, eastern Sierra fall colors, autumn, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees in fall, eastern Sierra fall colors, autumn.
Image ID: 23320
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 17547
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 17497
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Aspen trees turn yellow and orange in early October, South Fork of Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees turn yellow and orange in early October, South Fork of Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 17532
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

An explosion of yellow and orange color, aspen trees changing color in fall, autumn approaches, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

An explosion of yellow and orange color, aspen trees changing color in fall, autumn approaches.
Image ID: 23325
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

White trunks of aspen trees, viewed upward toward the yellow and orange leaves of autumn and the blue sky beyond, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

White trunks of aspen trees, viewed upward toward the yellow and orange leaves of autumn and the blue sky beyond.
Image ID: 23337
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Shameless plug: I’ve got a nice collection of fall color photos. Check them out, they really are pretty good if I do say so myself. (Heck, when the colors are peaking its hard to take a bad photo of turning aspens.)

Keywords: eastern sierra fall color, aspen, report, foliage, photography, picture, bishop, photo, autumn, image, information, description.

Convict Lake Sunrise, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California

Sierra Nevada

Convict Lake is a small lake at the foot of Laurel Mountain and Mount Morrison, in the Sherwin Range of the Sierra Nevada, California. Convict Lake is named for a group of convicts that escaped from Carson City, fled to and were apprehended after a shootout. Convict Lake is a popular fishing lake in the summer and is frequently stocked with trout. I happened to make two early morning stops at Convict Lake this summer, and these are the sunrises that I saw there:

Convict Lake sunrise reflection, Sierra Nevada mountains

Convict Lake sunrise reflection, Sierra Nevada mountains.
Image ID: 26974

Sunrise and storm clouds over Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain, Eastern Sierra Nevada

Sunrise and storm clouds over Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain, Eastern Sierra Nevada.
Image ID: 26858
Location: California, USA

Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Photos of Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

Sarah and I recently made our somewhat-annual hike up the Mist Trail in Yosemite, enjoying the heights and sounds of Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, as well as the Panorama Trail. It was not a serious photography outing since I was huffin’ and puffin’ just keeping up with Sarah who is a serious hiker and in better condition than I. We did make a stop just below Vernal Falls where we made the photo below. This is a place at which I always stop for a photo, and often there is a rainbow in the composition (see bottom of this post). On this day, however, breaking out the camera was especially difficult because of the enormous amounts of spray produced by near-record flow in the Merced River. I had about a second to get the shot before the lens would fog over with spray. I tried a dozen times and then gave up not wanting to damage the camera. I got this one keeper frame out of the attempts.

Vernal Falls and Merced River in spring, heavy flow due to snow melt in the high country above Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Vernal Falls and Merced River in spring, heavy flow due to snow melt in the high country above Yosemite Valley.
Image ID: 26878
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

While we were hiking, we discussed the potential pitfalls of the hike, the short sections of the steps leading up to Vernal Fall which are most dangerous, where a simple slip can lead to a deadly fall down the steep and slippery rock apron and into the raging Merced. We also discussed the danger around the top of Vernal and Nevada falls, each of which has seductive and exceeding risky brinks. She got the message and I didn’t browbeat her too much, but quietly kept her within arms reach during some of those more nervous sections of the hike.

A few weeks later I had a somewhat unsettling experience. After enjoying a family reunion in Yellowstone during which I had the phone and email turned off for a week, I returned to my office to find that the most popular images on my website for the previous week were all images of Vernal Falls. Then, catching up on messages, I found two urgent calls from news organizations asking for images of the falls to run in breaking news stories. “Uh oh.” Indeed, with a quick search of recent headlines I learned that three young people had tragically died after slipping into the Merced above Vernal Falls and going over the edge. What a terrible event, for the three young hikers but also for all the others present on the brink of Vernal Falls at the time it happened. I felt sick in the gut, knowing Sarah and I had been there just a few days prior, walking those same steps and having one of the most enjoyable days together we have ever shared. With just a small misstep, the Mist Trail can turn deadly, and indeed it does almost every year. This year the Mist Trail has claimed at least four lives. Yet, it remains one of my favorite trails and I will continue to hike it with Tracy and the girls as long as they can tolerate my slowing pace and lame jokes.

About the Hike: Spring is the time to visit Vernal Falls and the famous Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park. Vernal Falls is at peak flow in late May and June, the weather is usually pleasant and the dogwoods are in bloom on the valley floor. We try to make a springtime visit to Yosemite each year to hike the Mist Trail with our daughters. We get soaked by the falls on the way up, soak in the sun and dry off at the top, enjoy a lunch of trail mix and Clif bars alongside other hikers, and leisurely make our way back down the trail later in the afternoon. If one times his visit to Vernal Falls at midday, a rainbow is often visible in front of the falls when viewed from the trail just 100 yards away.

Vernal Falls at peak flow in late spring, with a rainbow appearing in the spray of the falls, viewed from the Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

Vernal Falls at peak flow in late spring, with a rainbow appearing in the spray of the falls, viewed from the Mist Trail.
Image ID: 12634
Location: Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Sky Rock Petroglyphs, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California

Sierra Nevada

Photograph of Sky Rock Petroglyphs, Bishop, California.

For some years I’ve wanted to see the Sky Rock Petroglyphs, a secluded and unusual set of petroglyphs located in the Volcanic Tablelands near Bishop, California. The Sky Rock Petroglyphs sit atop of an enormous volcanic block. The petroglyphs — dozens of them in many shapes and forms — face the sky, thus lending Sky Rock its name. My understanding is that Sky Rock’s orientation toward the heavens is unusual, but also curious is that this set of petroglyphs sits alone, isolated some 5+ miles from the rich Chalfant, Chidalgo and Red Rock petroglyph collections. Chipped into the rock, through the darker “desert varnish” that typically covers the exterior of such rocks, the Sky Rock Petroglyphs expose the lighter-colored rock underneath. The history of Sky Rock is not clear to me, although I have seen a number of published suggestions that the Sky Rock Petroglyphs were perhaps created by ancestors of what are today known as the Owens Valley Paiute (or Shoshone-Paiute) people.

Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California, sunrise light just touching clouds and the Sierra Nevada. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky.  These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them

Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California, sunrise light just touching clouds and the Sierra Nevada. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky. These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them.
Image ID: 26979
Location: Bishop, California, USA

Sky Rock is a special place, indeed. It was fascinating to see it firsthand and consider the artist who, probably many hundreds of years ago, composed the intricate petroglyph forms. While looking at it we realized very few, if any, of the shapes were recognizable. In the way that other famous artists in history have done, Sky Rock’s talented creator produced a work that captivates and intrigues and will outlive him for centuries – a distinction that most artists (and photographers) hope to achieve.

Thanks for looking! I have a few more Sky Rock Petroglyph photos. Also see my gallery of California photos and Sierra Nevada photos.

North Lake, Dusk to Dawn

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California, Sierra Nevada

I suppose photos of North Lake shoreline in fall are cliche, in part because of the internet and the fact that so many photographers now visit this small area to photograph eastern Sierra fall colors during a few weeks each October. I still have yet to be there when a really good sunrise light show goes off. That said, it is a beautiful spot and I always enjoy at least one sunrise strolling the shoreline of North Lake each time I visit Bishop in the autumn. As I was editing my recent set of photos from Bishop Creek Canyon I found that I had, without intending to, garnered a series of nice images that capture views of North Lake across to Paiute Peak at different times of day. Not all of these are keepers, but they make an interesting set. I think I will keep #1, #2 and #5. These were taken in about a 12-hour span earlier this month when I was up there with Garry McCarthy.

Bishop Creek Canyon Fall Colors

Sierra Nevada

Photos of Eastern Sierra Fall Colors and Aspen Trees in Bishop Creek Canyon

Like moths to the flame, Garry and I made a banzai run* up to Bishop Creek Canyon to get some fresh air and check out the fall colors last weekend. The quaking aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) had been turning for about a week or so. We knew we missed the great conditions earlier in the week and indeed the photographic conditions were just so-so, with beautiful near-summerlike weather and nary a cloud in the sky. Most aspen trees at the higher elevations had good color but many were half stripped of leaves due to the recent storm. Lower elevations still have a ways to go, with much green still at Aspendel and the intake ponds. June Lake and Convict Lake are still early, peaking in perhaps a week or two I would guess. As for crowds, they were not too bad: we encountered just one photo group workshop and we only had to kung-fu a few pesky medium format photographers along the shore of North Lake each morning (note: for this I recommend the Gitzo limited edition “Crowd Special” that quickly transforms into bo and nunchaku). OK, that last part is a lie. Here are a few images in chrono order. Life is good!

Sage brush and aspen trees, autumn, in the shade of Bishop Creek Canyon in the Sierra Nevada, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sage brush and aspen trees, autumn, in the shade of Bishop Creek Canyon in the Sierra Nevada.
Image ID: 26060
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Sierra Nevada mountains and aspen trees, fall colors reflected in the still waters of North Lake, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada mountains and aspen trees, fall colors reflected in the still waters of North Lake.
Image ID: 26061
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Sierra Nevada mountains and aspen trees, fall colors reflected in the still waters of North Lake, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada mountains and aspen trees, fall colors reflected in the still waters of North Lake.
Image ID: 26062
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Fall colors and turning aspens, eastern Sierra Nevada, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Fall colors and turning aspens, eastern Sierra Nevada.
Image ID: 26065
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Bishop Creek and aspen trees in autumn, in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Bishop Creek and aspen trees in autumn, in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Image ID: 26074
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Bishop creek and turning aspens, south fork of Bishop Creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Bishop creek and turning aspens, south fork of Bishop Creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada.
Image ID: 26071
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Aspen trees, with leaves changing from green to yellow in autumn, branches stretching skyward, a forest, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees, with leaves changing from green to yellow in autumn, branches stretching skyward, a forest.
Image ID: 26073
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Aspen trees, fall colors, reflected in the still waters of North Lake, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees, fall colors, reflected in the still waters of North Lake.
Image ID: 26077
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Aspen trees in autumn, fall colors, eastern Sierra Nevada, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees in autumn, fall colors, eastern Sierra Nevada.
Image ID: 26083
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

*banzai photographer (n): (1) a photographer with a working spouse and multiple kids each of whom has lots of activities that require driving all over the place during the week, help with homework in the evenings, and then driving all over the place on the weekends; (2) a photographer who crams five days of photography into a single weekend; (3) a photographer with a banzai attitude about life; (4) a photographer who photographs banzai trees.

A Return to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp

California, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Photos of Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in Yosemite National Park

Last month I made a brief return trip to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, following my first visit in 2009. This time my father joined me, and we had a chance to spend a few days together in some of the most beautiful areas of Yosemite’s high country. Our last real hiking trip together was one we did with my sister about 15 years ago in Lyell Canyon, and previous to that was our climb of Mt. Whitney about 30 years ago — so both of us were really looking forward to getting together for this outing. Yosemite did not disappoint…

Cathedral Range peaks reflected in the still waters of Townsley Lake at sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California

Cathedral Range peaks reflected in the still waters of Townsley Lake at sunrise.
Image ID: 25764
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

We began with the usual slog up Highway 395, taking a detour to look at the ancient bristlecone pine trees in the White Mountains (which I insisted upon visiting given my father had not seen them before). Blue skies accompanied us all the way, with barely a speck of wind, and the altitude proved to be no problem. After checking out the eons-old bristlecones we were soon back on 395 and reached Tuolumne Meadows by 5pm. Our day was capped with a walk along the Tuolumne River, a visit to Tenaya Lake and Olmsted Point for sunset and a great carb-load dinner at the Tuolume Meadows Lodge. (If you look closely you can see my dad in the below panorama of Tenaya Lake.)

Cloud's Rest at sunset, viewed from Olmsted Point.  Clouds Rest is one of the most massive -- if not the singlemost massive -- granite monoliths in the world. A vast lobe of Mesozoic-era granodiorite magma cooled to rock and was gradually uplifted to its present altitude of 9926 ft. Later, glaciers cut it into its present shape, Yosemite National Park, California

Cloud’s Rest at sunset, viewed from Olmsted Point. Clouds Rest is one of the most massive — if not the singlemost massive — granite monoliths in the world. A vast lobe of Mesozoic-era granodiorite magma cooled to rock and was gradually uplifted to its present altitude of 9926 ft. Later, glaciers cut it into its present shape
Image ID: 25761
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Tenaya Lake at sunset, panoramic view looking north, with Tenaya Peak (10,280') on the right and Medlicott Dome (9,880') on the left.  Tenaya Lake lies at 8,150' in the heart of Yosemite's high country, Yosemite National Park, California

Tenaya Lake at sunset, panoramic view looking north, with Tenaya Peak (10,280′) on the right and Medlicott Dome (9,880′) on the left. Tenaya Lake lies at 8,150′ in the heart of Yosemite’s high country.
Image ID: 25755
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

The following morning Dad chose to sleep in while I made a sunrise visit to Tioga Pass, a short ways up the road from the Tuolume Meadows Lodge. I was hoping to see a bear or some deer, but I had to settle for reflections of Mammoth Peak in the small tarns that are found in the meadows near the pass.

Mammoth Peak (12,117') reflected in small tarn pond at sunrise, viewed from meadows near Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park, California

Mammoth Peak (12,117′) reflected in small tarn pond at sunrise, viewed from meadows near Tioga Pass.
Image ID: 25759
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

We hit the trail after breakfast, choosing the Rafferty Creek route to Vogelsang. Although frowned upon by some as a pack trail, Rafferty Creek is a much shorter approach than the Lyell Canyon route and my dad, at 74 years, was not sure how his legs and back would feel about long route. It must be said that one advantage to taking Rafferty Creek Trail is that the bulk of the uphill work is done in the first 3 miles, with the last 4 miles being mostly not-too-difficult uphill slope through a pleasing series of meadows and forests. The hike took a while but was not particularly challenging, Dad being prepared and well-conditioned by a month of long pre-trip walks. We reached Vogelsang with little fanfare by about 3pm, just in time for siesta. We were lucky to receive one of the two person tents alongside the creek. And to top it off, there were no mosquitoes, it being too late in the season for the carniverous demons to practice their injurious profession upon my tender flesh.

Panoramic view of the Cathedral Range from the summit of Vogelsang Peak (11500').  The shadow of Vogelsang Peak can be seen in the middle of the picture, Yosemite National Park, California

Panoramic view of the Cathedral Range from the summit of Vogelsang Peak (11500′). The shadow of Vogelsang Peak can be seen in the middle of the picture.
Image ID: 25751
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

After a recumbent hour I remembered that one of my goals was to bag Vogelsang Peak, one of the two 11,500′ peaks that overlooks Vogelsang High Sierra Camp (the other being Fletcher Peak). I asked the camp manager to set a plate of dinner aside for me while I made a sunset hike to the peak, and she kindly complied, so I took off about 5pm. I encountered noone on the way up or down except for a few marmots. The route is not technical, being characterized as “pedestrian” in one online account I had read. I reached the top about an hour before sunset. What a view! My panoramic photo above (click it to see it larger) really does not do it justice. I really love those brief moments atop a summit, any summit, and this was no exception. I savored the lingering light as it lit the scene all around me, the Cathedral Range to one side and Half Dome in the distance on the other, alone atop this impressive granite height. The sun was still warm enough that my t-shirt was all I needed. There was no wind. The lengthening shadow of Vogelsang Peak pointed toward Bernice and Gallison Lakes and several peaks of the Cathedral Range, including Amelia Earhart peak, Parsons Peak and Simmons Peak, all about 12,000′. As one is wont to do when one finds oneself alone in a place of serene quiet and moving beauty, I pondered deep thoughts for a while. But not for too long, as I do not have the intellect of a philosopher. I ate my snack bar, recorded a bit of video, signed the peak register I found hidden in an old ammunition can among the rocks, and started back. On my way down to camp I was treated to a gorgeous view of Fletcher Peak reflecting a wash of gold across Vogelsang Lake. I gratefully wolfed down my dinner as I described the hike to my dad, then washed up and hit the sack. It was about a 10 mile day with almost 3000′ of elevation gain for me, so I slept well!

Fletcher Peak is reflected in Vogelsang Lake at sunset, viewed from near summit of Vogelsang Peak, Yosemite National Park, California

Fletcher Peak is reflected in Vogelsang Lake at sunset, viewed from near summit of Vogelsang Peak.
Image ID: 25757
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Dad let me take off before sunrise for some photography, so I walked up to Townsley Lake and made some exposures in the mirror-smooth waters. The German grad students who shared our dinner table in Tuolume mentioned that Vogelsang means “bird song”. On this very still dawn at Townsley Lake, where the only sound that broke the silence were bird chirps, the camp’s name seemed particularly apt.

Fletcher Peak (11410') reflected in Townsley Lake, at sunrise, panoramic view, Yosemite National Park, California

Fletcher Peak (11410′) reflected in Townsley Lake, at sunrise, panoramic view.
Image ID: 25752
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

After breakfast, we headed out to visit several of the lakes in the area. We passed by Fletcher Lake just a few yards from camp, then up over the rise to Townsley. Of most interest to me was Hanging Basket Lake, set in a small cleft (perhaps a hanging valley) at the top of a reasonably steep talus slope above Townsley Lake. My dad was game for it, so up we went. It was not too difficult, requiring just some patience to navigate the talus boulders and not twist an ankle. Hanging Basket Lake itself is rumored to hold lunker fish, given that few people visit it. Its waters are a striking deep green, and it is surrounded on three sides by sheer granite walls. What a spot. We tried to time our visit for when the sun would illuminate the entire cirque above the lake, and we guessed right:

Hanging Basket Lake (10601'), with Fletcher Peak (11410') rising above on the right, panoramic view, Yosemite National Park, California

Hanging Basket Lake (10601′), with Fletcher Peak (11410′) rising above on the right, panoramic view.
Image ID: 25753
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

We continued our hike up to the meadows above Townsley Lake. We met a few more marmots, and found a toad in the grass. On the plateau above Townsley and Evelyn Lakes, we wandered by a series of beautiful tarn ponds. Several of them, not connected to any streams and thus safe from introduced stock trout, were absolutely plugged with tadpoles. As we walked along the edges of these ponds the tadpoles would splash through the shallowest few inches toward the deeper middle of the water. Other ponds were connected by a stream, being part of the drainage to Evelyn Lake which was our destination. Purple lupine flowers were blooming in abundance along the this stream, and we found a group of deer. We descended the slope to Evelyn Lake, reaching the sand beach along the western shore. We went for a well-deserved swim. The water was bracing but we dried off almost immediately in the warm weather and felt great afterwards. After Evelyn Lake, a few more miles took us past a couple of meadow-bound tarns, back to Fletcher Lake and once again to camp, After another fantastic meal, we spent our second night in Vogelsang Camp. Reports had been circulating on the internet prior to our trip that Mars would be making its closest approach to Earth in recorded history during our stay at Vogelsang, but I have since learned those reports were, in the usual internet-driven fashion, fanciful. Nevertheless, Mars was indeed quite bright each evening, following a few degrees behind the full moon as the two traversed the night sky.

Both Mars and the full moon looked down on me as I made my way up the short walk to Vogelsang Lake before dawn on our final morning. I recorded a time-lapse video of the sunrise breaking over Vogelsang Peak and sweeping down to Vogelsang Lake, which can be seen briefly at the beginning of this video and in full at the end of the video. Indeed, both Mars and the moon appear in the beginning seconds of the time-lapse, at the far right, but Mars is admittedly difficult to discern in the Youtube version. The video was an experiment to test out a external microphone on my camera, and to learn a little bit about recording video with an SLR still camera. You can see it with some comments at my earlier post about it.

Our second and last morning at Vogelsang Camp was relaxed and uneventful. As it was yesterday, this morning was warm, still, quiet and mosquito-free. We enjoyed another excellent breakfast, of the sort that breakfast afficionados such as myself record in our life list of notable breaking-of-the-fast achievements. There is something particulary satisfying about eating hearty food in spectacular outdoor surroundings. I feel justified in enjoying seconds of everything, rationalizing (hoping?) that I will burn the additional calories on the coming day’s hike.

Vogelsang Peak (11500') and the shoulder of Fletcher Peak, reflected in the still morning waters of Fletcher Lake, in Yosemite's gorgeous high country, late summer, Yosemite National Park, California

Vogelsang Peak (11500′) and the shoulder of Fletcher Peak, reflected in the still morning waters of Fletcher Lake, in Yosemite’s gorgeous high country, late summer.
Image ID: 25788
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

We returned via the Rafferty Creek trail, reaching the car in Tuolumne Meadows by about 1pm to began the long drive down 395 to Southern California. Wouldn’t you know it, the clouds which were totally absent during our time in the high country appeared just as we reached the end of the trail!

Vogelsang Reflections – Yosemite National Park

Sierra Nevada, Time Lapse, Video, Yosemite

Vogelsang High Sierra Camp and Tuolumne Meadows

My dad and I spent a great several days hiking around Tuolumne Meadows and Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Vogelsang is one of my favorite areas of the Sierra Nevada, a series of 10,000′ basins filled with beautiful lakes and boasting many 11,000′ and 12,000′ peaks. We had spectacular weather, no mosquitoes, and bagged a new peak and at least a half dozen lakes. I shot this video with a Canon 5D Mark II and the time lapse was shot with a Canon 1Ds Mark III camera, 1300+ frames over two hours to produce about 25 seconds of time lapse video. The video was an exercise to test the function of the Sennheiser MKE 400 mic in an outdoor setting. It worked reasonably well. You can tell I did not get my video perfectly level on some shots — live and learn. Life is good!

Aspens in Fall Beside a Creek

Sierra Nevada

One image that just screams “eastern Sierra fall color” that I wanted to make when I last visited Bishop was one of turning aspen trees alongside running water. The three basins in the mountains above Bishop drain into the three three forks of Bishop Creek, and with aspen trees surrounding much of these forks I knew it was just a matter of looking to find a location that would yield a pleasing composition. I noted a few spots along the outlet of Lake Sabrina along with a couple possibilities along the outlet of North Lake but late in the afternoon when I surveyed the upper reaches of the south fork of Bishop Creek below South Lake I found what I was looking for: walls of color alongside a stream with enough water movement to form interesting blurs. This image was taken very near Parcher’s Resort.

Aspens turn yellow in autumn, changing color alongside the south fork of Bishop Creek at sunset, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspens turn yellow in autumn, changing color alongside the south fork of Bishop Creek at sunset.
Image ID: 23323
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

The day I was in Bishop there were no clouds in the sky at all so contrast was a problem. I was finally able to find a composition with sufficiently low contrast after the sun had descended behind the peaks above South Lake. After that time the light passing through the trees and off the water was even enough to make good exposures without resorting to filters or any of that HDR / blended-exposure silliness. I simply set the aperature at its sharpest for this lens (f/11 on a 24-70 f/2.8 lens) and lengthened the exposure time until I nearly clipped the highlights in the stream. (Curious? See my post about Exposing to the Right and how to properly configure the camera to yield accurate histograms for this approach.) Correcting the white-balance, to account for the cool bias of the shady light, was about all I had to do in the RAW conversion.

Keywords: aspen, stream, creek, fall, eastern sierra, quaking aspen, populus tremuloides, autumn.