Eastern Sierras

September 2008

Around Labor Day I got to go on a wonderful backpacking trip with one of my good friends, his fiancee, and one of her friends. Originally we had been planning on going to visit the Channel Islands, but with campsites closed due to a longer nesting season we were faced with needing to find somewhere else to go. I started pulling out some topos, checked the weather, and decided we should head to the Eastern Sierras.

After looking at some more detailed maps, it seemed like there were some gorgeous valleys just east of Yosemite and settled on the Virginia Lakes area for our trip. I got there a bit early and had some time to do a nice drive up the Tioga Pass as well as walk around Mono Lake for a bit. I had never stopped off at Mono Lake before, and I had not expected the brine salts along the shore nor the formations. Quite unique!

My friends and I finally met up and we started up on our backpacking trip through the Virginia Lakes area. The alpine lakes were very nifty, and it seemed like there was another pretty lake just around each rise in the trail. The nighttime was incredibly windy, however, but that didn't deter us from continuing on the next day. As the trail wound up over a 10000 foot pass, I was getting very tired lugging all of my gear, but as soon as we got over the saddle it was clear that everything was worth it. In front of us was a truly gorgeous mountain vista. The winds were so intense that white wavecrests were on the lakes in the bottom of the valley. The mountains were all varied shades of blacks and reds, and off to the sides the walls of different granite canyons just begged to be explored. Glaciers dotted the valley walls, and at the bottom a lovely meadow where all the runoff streams intertwined and mingled. Truly it was some of the best of the Sierras all mixed together as if it couldn't choose what it really wanted to be. And at night, the stars were just bright and numerous as only they can be in the mountains.

The 50 MPH winds didn't really make for great sleeping in a tent, so we cut the backcountry trip a little short. With the extra day I got to visit Bodie, an old mining ghost town that has been set aside as a California state park. In all of the few ghost towns and old townsites I've visited this one is definitely the most well would have been even nicer if there hadn't been so many people trudging around! It was nice being able to look into the different buildings and see all of the old artifacts still in their places. After Bodie I got a chance to stop in to Devil's Postpile NM. Initially I was a bit annoyed that the bus service was required, but once the bus started to go on the road I was thankful. Not only was it one narrow lane, it also had great views of a gorgeous granite valley just like some of the ones that I'd seen in Sequoia NP a long time ago. It almost begged to be explored as well! But time was lacking, so I only did a short hike up to the postpile formation itself. The geometry of all of the rocks is truly amazing. It reminded me of the structures of crystals I'd seen in museums, but now nearly a hundred feet tall! The surrounding forest is truly stunning as well; I shall need to go back again and visit in more detail.

The Photographs

The camera and lenses used were my old Minolta manual system was in use along with continuing to play with my 500 RF lens. The first two rolls were Kodachrome PKR 64, followed by a roll of Kodachrome PKL 200, and finishing with a roll of Scala. I always love seeing old structures in black and white!

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