Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer 2013 White Mountains and the Sierra Nevada

Mara and I took the summer off from volunteering with the Park Service. Instead we used the time to visit with our families and explore the wilderness.  As the Yosemite Rim Fire burns into Fall, it is refreshing to look back at our trips when it was not as dry.  Our first backpack of the season was of course with Dave Dahler who always motivates me to explore and photograph for hours on end.

Not long after this trip, I washed up, slept on our bed for the night, and left for Lee Vining. to assist Michael Frye with his Hidden Yosemite Workshop.  The group was enthusiastic and worked well together. And it was clear that they were passionate about nature photography and the landscape.  Despite having a dry year, I still came back with some keepers.
 We weren't planning on going to the White Mountains of California, but a broken stove made us decide to abandon a trip through northern Yosemite and head to Bishop for repairs.  About five years ago Mara and I explored the bristlecone pines of the White Mountains but vowed to come back and spend more time.
From the White Mountains we drove down east through Big Pine up to the Palisades.  This region of the Sierra Nevada is known for some impressive 13,00+ foot peaks and the largest glacier in California. Since the turn of the century the Palisade Glacier has receded at an alarming rate. Mara and I never actually saw the glacier up close because the recessional moraine was steep and unstable. Other hikers had witnessed large rocks rolling off making the crossing dangerous.  Instead, I enjoyed the turquoise glacial water that flows from under the moraine.  This rock flour is just suspended fine particles of smashed rocks.  Late day and early morning light made this place photographically outrageous.

Our last trip of the season was down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne where at lower elevations, the weather was luckily quite comfortable as opposed to scorching hot. We took our time, taking five days to only travel 30 miles.  This approach gave me time to discover some strong compositions under very good light. 

 The forest close to the horizon is still smoldering from the Rim Fire.  This photograph of Hetch Hetchy was taken about a week before.  The California landscape is always changing.


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