Split Arrow Snow Bank Reflection with North Peak
full print size of 29.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2006 view detailed crop
Hoover Wilderness, Toyabe National Forest
mid morning Sunday September 24, 2006, slide 06-GG-33
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 90mm Caltar, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature above bottom right
This landscape is in the 20 Lakes Basin above Saddlebag Lake reservoir just east of Tioga Pass at the Yosemite border, a bit more than a couple miles from the reservoir trailhead. It is a sparsely timbered headwaters region of Lee Vining Creek above 10,000 feet. Glaciers filled the basin and flowed east down both Mill and Lee Vining Creeks into enormous Pleistocene epoch Lake Russell, the remnant of which is today alkaline Mono Lake. Those glaciers scoured and flattened the granite and metamorphic bedrock here such that it left many rock depressions that have become the lakes and ponds in the basin. Such alpine areas of the Sierra Nevada in the fall often have turfy areas with fall foliage changed red patches of dwarf bilberry. The large mountain at right is North Peak at 12,242 feet and in the background poking over its shoulder is more widely known Mount Conness at 12,590 feet. These peaks lie on the Sierra Crest, which forms the eastern border of Yosemite National Park with the eastern side of the crest here within the Hoover Wilderness.
The heavy winter snowpack in 2006 lingered late into the summer including here below shaded areas of north facing cliffs. In this image one can see some of the old glacial snow that has a gray hue from a considerable amount of fallen granite rock debris. The Conness Glacier is one of the largest of the small remnant glaciers in the Sierra Nevada at over one mile in width. Avalanches down North Peak's headwall chip away the granite forming smoothly shaped chutes, which at this time of year form aesthetic shadowed fluting. Below cliffs are talus fields of rock debris that fall from the heights. Snowmelt above the large talus field below North Peak seeps down to the bedrock below then at the foot of the talus flows out over that monolithic rock At mid frame right one can also see a dark crack from which more watery seeps emerge then flow down over the granite watering bands of dense light green hued willow. The darker rock here about this small lake is metasedimentary Mesozoic Era marine deposits.
It formed at a time when the ancient seashore of our North American continent was east of this area in Nevada and thus before any mountains existed. All areas in the background are the more common in the Sierra lighter hued igneous granites that formed later in that era.
In the lakeshore foreground is red hued leaves of dwarf bilberry, vaccinium caespitosum, mixed in amongst drying brown turfy grasses and plants. In particular, one can see the green needles of red mountain heather and dried to brown wildflower remnants of alpine goldenrod and ranger buttons that provided other colors for this foreground in August. This dwarf huckleberry species that grows at ground level in turfy areas of timberline and alpine areas, was the primary reason for my late season visit. In this image it adds a nice touch of red color across the foreground as well as in areas across the lake at left. One can see the light green leaves of a common willow species along this foreground lake edge. Whitebark pines, pinus albicaulis, are behind the lake contrasting nicely against the large reflecting snowfield with a split arrow form. One can also see stunted pines in the background between the two mentioned seeps where branches that stick out of the snow are broken off by avalanches or high storm winds. And yes, I did notice at least one trout feeding on the surface as they are resident in most of the lakes, ponds, and streams in this wonderful easily day-hiked basin.
On this four day roadtrip, I had visited the basin a couple days earlier. However breezes were being their usual uncooperative selves diminishing the quality of the many possible reflections photographers seek here. Before I'd left on the roadtrip, I'd analyzed weather and jetstream forecasts and noted a pattern that often provides the most calm mornings had potential to occur. Indeed this morning was the most calm I'd ever experienced here allowing this capture. I managed to expose film on more great reflection landscapes within three hours this Sunday morning than all previous visits combined.