Eastern Yosemite: Gaylor Lakes Foliage

The hardiness of life in the high mountains amazes me. The vibrant colors of plants and wildflowers as they hug the mountainside, or the way that trees seem alive even after being cracked by lightning, snapped by high winds or by frost.

Even the way that life grows out of cracks in the very rocks themselves.

The rugged simplicity and beauty leaves me in awe. Even though I know the winters are harsh and the weather changes the landscape, the high mountains will always feel timeless to me. They are a place that feels like another world entirely, set apart from everything that takes place in the city.

It is a place of noisy solitude (nature is quite noisy sometime), reflection, and rest.

Some of these plants I have been unable to identify. If you have an idea of what they are, please let me know in the comments.

I hope you enjoy these pictures from my hike.

Eastern Yosemite: Gaylor Lakes Hike

While in Eastern Yosemite, I went on a hike to the Gaylor Lakes. The trailhead is literally right inside of the Tioga Pass entrance to the Park and has very limited parking.

I got there in the early morning, around 8 am, and the air was crisp, the sun was rising but not hot yet, and there was a lovely breeze. It was a beautiful day.

As the hike progressed, I had to keep reminding myself that I was still in California. The views were something out of the The Sound of Music–alpine, full of meadows and lakes and trees. I learned later that day that Eastern Yosemite IS an alpine zone, which is designated as being 9000-13000 ft. in elevation.

The only problem? Mosquitoes were out in force because of the wet winter and spring the area had. But, even those pesky things couldn’t dissuade me from trying a new trail in a part of Yosemite I had never seen before.

The hike to Gaylor Lakes has beautiful wildflowers, streams crossing the trail, and gorgeous vistas. It is also a short hike, only being about a mile to the crest of the ridge, after which you can continue on to see more lakes or head back to the trailhead.

Because I wanted to do more in Yosemite that day, I decided to make it to the crest and see the first lake, take some pictures, and then head back down.

Don’t let the short distance fool you, though. The trailhead rests at about 9900 ft. of elevation, and in that short mile you gain another approximately 600 ft. It is like climbing stairs for a mile.

Thankfully, as I have been getting in better shape this summer, the hike wasn’t as bad as it could have been in any other year.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. They will be less frequent now I am back at work, but I still have plenty to share.

Eastern Yosemite: Tioga Lake

When I go to Yosemite, it has always been to the Valley Floor from the Mariposa direction and it has always been in the late fall or early winter.

As beautiful as it is at that time of year, I longed to see the higher eastern park of the park, especially Tuolomne Meadows. But, the roads through the high passes and meadows are always closed that time of year.

Fortunately, this year I was able to finally make it up there in the summer. I stand in awe of the area’s beauty, and I have only scratched the surface of the area (and my photos from those days).

I hope you enjoy!

The Oncoming Storm: Bodie, CA

In some of my other posts about Bodie State Historic Park, I have mentioned that the afternoon thunderstorm lent itself to some dramatic monochrome photography, which is true.

Many of the pictures that I have shared so far come from earlier in the afternoon. These next few were taken as lightning crashed and thunder rolled over the hills, people fleeing to the safety and dryness of buildings and cars.

I hope you enjoy.

Monochrome: Bodie State Historic Park, Pt. III

Here are some more pictures of abandoned equipment from Bodie State Park.

Some of them are mining equipment, and another one is of old gas pumps and an abandoned car. The head frame structure is a wooden structure that would rest above a mining shaft and would help move material.

Bodie seems custom made for monochrome pictures, as do most of the Eastern Sierra. The spectacular clouds and afternoon thunderstorms look remarkable in whites, greys, and blacks.

Try as I might to edit and publish them in color, every time I think they look better in monochrome.

I hope you enjoy.

Devils Postpile National Monument Hike

Here are more pictures of the hike from Devils Postpile to Rainbow Falls.

I hope you enjoy!

Rainbow Falls Hike

The last time that I was in Mammoth during the summer, I hiked the Devils Postpile National Monument, but I couldn’t make it to Rainbow Falls because of an oncoming afternoon thunderstorm that I wasn’t prepared for..

This year, however, I did make it the whole way. I got out at Stop 6 (the Ranger’s Station), hiked past the Postpile, through the 1992 Rainbow Fire burn area to Rainbow Falls, and back up to Reds Meadow.

All in all, it was about a 4 mile hike, on a beautiful day. Because of the large amount of snow this past winter and the late thaw, parts of the hike looked more like meadows than I remember, especially around the burn area.

As I neared the Falls themselves, I was delighted to hear the roaring water and see more than one band of color in the spray.

Like the Aurora Borealis, I assumed that the rainbow was infrequent and unpredictable; I am glad that I was able to see the Falls’ namesake bright colors.

I will always be amazed at the beauty and splendor of the Eastern Sierra area and of the high mountains.

I hope you enjoy.

A Hungry Bird: What Is It?

While hiking in the Devils Postpile National Monument, I ran across a hungry and curious bird that didn’t seem too afraid of the dozens of people crossing its path.

Only a few feet away, it sat on a low hanging branch and kept an attentive eye on my lunch (salami and cheese), as I rested in the shade below the Postpile.

I enjoy photographing wildlife while I hike and travel. It is fascinating to see the variety of nature.

Yet, this is a very frustrating little bird.

Try as I might, I have been unable to identify it. I have checked websites that list birds in the Mammoth Lakes area. I have tried the Audubon Society’s website. I have tried random other birding websites.

Nothing has worked. I have found some species that may have a similar profile, but nothing that matches the colors of the bird.

Hopefully, someone may be able to help me.

I am providing two versions of the photo (one slightly edited, the other with the colors more saturated) in the hopes that someone may know what it is.

One way or another, I hope you enjoy.

Americana: Bodie State Park, Pt. II

Since the beginning, landscape photography appealed to me.

I enjoy traveling, seeing new things, and the solitude of the mountains and the wild places of the world. With my camera, I try to capture those places and visions–and the way they make me feel–and share that with others.

Americana photography fascinates me. Often in an overgrown field of long grass or surrounded by snow, the abandoned farm buildings and cars of yesteryear are beautiful and severe.

In a way that natural erosion and change isn’t, these Americana photographs are a reminder that time continually passes, that things change, and that nothing is guaranteed to remain the same. That people came before us, had unknowable lives of fullness and complexity, and that they are now gone.

However, growing up in the city on the West Coast, I resigned myself to the idea I would not have a chance to try my mind in this style (unless I happened to drive through the Midwest on some vacation or road trip).

Bodie changed this. With its many abandoned buildings and exhibits, Bodie is an ideal place to make my attempt at Americana. Unfortunately, this didn’t occur to me until after my visit to the Eastern Sierra and to Bodie had ended.

Fortunately, as I began to comb through my photos on my computer, I found that I had taken some without realizing it.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Bodie State Park

Summer is never long enough.

There is always so much to do, and never enough time in which to do it. Yet, I always find myself wishing that I had done or seen more when it ends.

This summer, however, I had the good fortune to spend a week in the Eastern Sierra, enjoying the high mountains, the fishing, the beautiful lakes and rivers, and the many hiking trails.

Oh, and the snow. I know! It sounds crazy, but there was still snow at the higher altitudes this late in the summer, which, along with the afternoon thunderstorms, added to the wild and rugged allure of the area.

I have many photos to go through, but here is one to start with as I go through more of the others.

It is a giant gear wheel that leans abandoned in the ghost town of Bodie, CA. It was taken as an afternoon thunderstorm (with bright cracks of lightning) dropped ran on the state park.