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.

Interrupted a Hawk’s Breakfast

Yesterday morning, I woke up and, like usual, needed some caffeine, but was out of coffee in the house. So, I went to a local Starbuck’s for some Cold Brew and a panini, and headed home. The whole trip took maybe 10-15 minutes.

However, as I walked from my car to my apartment door lost in thought, I heard a flapping of wings, and saw a bird take off from the ground. Left behind was the carcass of a dead pigeon, and as I looked up startled, I saw a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on the eaves of the building next door. So, I ran inside, put down my coffee and panini, and grabbed my camera. As I came back outside, I realized that I had interrupted the breakfast of two hawks. One was keeping watch on from the building’s eaves, and the other was perched at about head height on a tree nearby.

It reminded me that a good picture can happen at almost any second, and to have that camera ready wherever I go.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Yosemite: Half Dome from Mirror Lake

Standing at Mirror Lake and looking up at Half Dome.

Yosemite: El Capitan and Half Dome

Yosemite: Sunlight through the Cathedral Gunsight

In the Yosemite Valley on the opposite side from El Capitan, there is a set of large rock formations called the Cathedral Rocks and Spires. In between two of them, there is a sharp cut named, for some reason I do not know, Gunsight.

Saturday, while I was slowly making my way out of Yosemite, the sun was getting lower in the sky and the light in Yosemite began to change. I was passing between the Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan when I glanced to my left. I pulled over and park immediately so I could take some pictures of the sun coming through the slit of the Gunsight and illuminating the tops of some trees with a gorgeous god ray.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

More Yosemite Frost

I wrote in the previous post about the effects the frost in Yosemite had on the terrain and on myself. Here, I wanted to share a few more pictures of the frost that morning.

Hope you enjoy!

Yosemite Morning Frost

Early morning frost in Yosemite Valley.

This past Sunday, as I exited my car in Yosemite Valley, I felt the cold chill of winter in the air.

As I glanced around and saw a white, crystalline twinkle on the grasses, tree logs, and fence posts, I realized that the night before had reached below freezing temperatures. (Later, safe and warm in the cabin I was renting, I did a little searching and found out it had dropped to the mid-20s F). I knew better than to think that it was a dusting of snow–but I hoped it was anyways!–and found that some of the shadier parts of Yosemite had frosted during the night.

It was transformed.

This was the second day in a row that I was in the park to hike and take pictures. The day before, I saw snow on the distant mountain peaks behind Half Dome. I knew that the daily lows neared freezing temperatures on a nightly basis. I obsessively watched the weather forecasts switch from rain to snow and back again in the days that led up to my trip. I knew that the weather would be unpredictable and I packed for all weather types.

And yet, in spite of all of that knowledge, I was caught off guard by the beauty and stillness of a partial frost. Sunday, in the mid-morning when this photo was taken, was cold. It was busier than the day before had been, although not as packed as during my previous visit to Yosemite.

And yet, there was a tranquility in the air, a tranquility accompanied by cold air, warm flannel and beanies, steaming breath, and the mountains. I suddenly felt more in tune with men the likes of John Muir and Ansel Adams. I saw the harsh and unpredictable beauty (a different kind of harsh beauty than the granite rock faces) of Yosemite, and once again felt the call of the mountains tug at my soul.

In both of my visits to Yosemite, I have felt so infinitesimally tiny. The granite faces of El Capitan and Half Dome, the winding Merced River, and the huge trees have all reminded me of my size–so small–in the grand scheme of things. So humble in the face of Nature that endures the goings on of such tiny, fleeting humans.

And yet…

With the frost and the accompanying cold transforming parts of Yosemite, I too was transformed. In all the climates and places of Nature, never have I felt so at home, so at peace, so like I belonged to something bigger than myself. In some ways, I’ve had to be reminded of how small and seemingly insignificant I am and of how unpredictable and beautiful life is (so easy to forget during the 9-5 work week), so that I could again feel like I was a part of something larger.

I hope you enjoy the post! There will be more pictures of Yosemite to come!