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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sierra Roadie


I've just returned from a short road trip to the eastern Sierras. My ace photographer friend Ken accompanied me on our journey. He had never visited the region before and it had been decades for me.


We drove up early Tuesday and managed to make it to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest with enough time to hike the shorter of the two trails through the forest.

Unfortunately I have been having serious respiratory issues lately as well as asthma and the combination of the trail and altitude sickness pretty much kicked my ass.

I threw up as soon as I got out of the van. My poor lungs have been fighting for oxygen at sea level, this was over 10,000 feet.

I pretty much would rather die than stop going forward in these sorts of situations and after a few seconds we marshaled through the preserve.

Got very lightheaded and queasy going up the incline.

Everything stabilized for me after a couple minutes and then it started to snow and we weren't really prepared and didn't want to damage our equipment so we hightailed it back to the van.

This was a very early snowfall for the area. What I thought was a remnant of last winter's melt had actually fallen that very morning.


The pines are the oldest nonclonal plants on earth, the eldest clocking in at 5066 years. They look to me like wizened old gnomes engaged in an age old conversation. The gnarled forms are simply amazing, an artist's delight.

I feel frustrated because I didn't really dial it in photographically.

Light was never perfect, was trying out some new filters and equipment and basically felt behind the eightball all weekend.

Life is like that I suppose. I need to go through my stuff and see what is worth saving, if anything.

Sometimes things look better after a few days to ripen. What I really need to do is go back and nail this place.

We stayed in Bishop that first night. Next morning we drove through Mammoth to the Devil's Postpile National Monument.


Very interesting place, polygonal basalt columns formed eons ago by a process involving glaciers cooling lava. Walked up to the top too and saw the interesting honeycombing geometric patterns of the basalt rods. This place is also where the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails intersect. Talked to a few trekkers midway through a long hike on the JMT.

Devil's Postpile almost didn't make National Monument status.  They wanted to dynamite it in 1921 to put in a dam. Give it the old hetch hetchy.


Afterwards we hiked through the Ansel Adams wilderness to Rainbow Falls. It was such a beautiful day, so nice to be out in the crisp, clean air. Falls are tall and lovely.

Rainbow Falls
As always others skipped past us nonchalantly on the trail but it is a little different bearing heavy equipment and tripods. Not to mention, speaking strictly for myself, being old and plump.

I kept chiding myself for my recent lack of exercise. Need more walking and less computer. Beautiful falls, light wasn't perfect. Put five or six miles on and we weren't near finished with our day.

We then drove to Red's Meadow and had a good late lunch at the Mule House Cafe, which is only open three months a year. We were too late for the homemade pie but had excellent turkey and swiss grilled on rye.

Up to Mineret Summit and we assayed our position vis a vis the surrounding peaks.  Very nice indeed.



We then headed over to Mono Lake for sunset shots. My equipment is acting up but we made do and talked to a lot of folks. The near full moon came up as the sun went down.





Got to Bridgeport at dark and ate dinner at the old Bridgeport Inn, across from the lovely old Pembar Garage. Expensive but good and they turned me on to a free piece of pie! Sat next to some wealthy fisherman from So Cal. Town runs on fishing. Not much else. Drove a half hour in the morning on the 395 and didn't see another car. Hooray!



We headed back this morning. Fast three day excursion, just wet our beaks and got familiar. Quick stop at the lovely and very clear Convict Lake to top off our tank.

The eastern Sierra seems somewhat parched and denuded in comparison with its western kin. But it has its own singular beauty. Worth getting to know better.

Also stopped at Manzanar on the way back, the World War II Japanese internment camp. Might as well continue the Adams theme. Which was not intentional.


Drove back through the dreary mojave and home. Will throw some more pictures of the trip up on the blog soon. Hope it doesn't take thirty years to go back.


7 comments:

wasserball said...

Thanks for sharing from a dpreview member.

Blue Heron said...

Thank you so much for commenting Wasserball. A first!

LJS said...

Beautiful photos!

Chickaloonjeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chickaloonjeff said...

Thanks Robert for sharing ...
What a magical place!!
Take care...

Sanoguy said...

Nice!!

Anonymous said...

Love those Bristle Cone pines! Stunning!