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NEXT:  Page 6   Glen Alpine Creek Basin Backpack
2018 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

Mono Basin 6/11
Evergreen Road 6/12
Evergreen Road 6/13

2018 Trip Chronicles:  Page 5

Mono Lake Basin

During May, inside slider storms continue to move across Oregon down the back side of the Sierra Nevada into the Nevada Great Basin with considerable winds, thus keeping me away. Three weeks after my earlier Mono Basin road trip, the first extended period of fair weather brought me back. Thus on Sunday June 10 at mid day drove across the range on SR120. In the afternoon drove south on US395 and road explored some areas of sand flats where I found monkeyflowers and dwarf lupine in low numbers. Late afternoon stopped for a burger at the Mono Cone and a pepperoni pizza slice at the Mobile Mart before driving down to Mono Lake where I tented at the location I had used on May 13 except as I had my new Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL tent, set that up on pumice/obsidian sands with a view of the lake.

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Monday dawn June 11, with sunny skies above, drove the short distance to the east Navy Beach parking lot and as the sun moved down slopes of the Sierra Crest, rambled east along the sand tufa and rabbitbush to the marsh pond I had worked on my earlier trip. There I took shots for the above panorama towards Mono Craters. In the background, there was still a modest amount of snow on Mt Wood, Mt Lewis, and Mt Gibbs while landscapes were generally green for nice aesthetics.

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Continuing east along the shore, noticed unlike a month earlier, there were large numbers of alkali flies that seagulls were now actively feeding on. As was the case on my earlier trip, there were soon no human footprints on the sands reflecting how few people ever walked along the shores more than a mile east of the very popular South Tufa. I stopped at a sand spit pond to take the above reflection image with snow adorned Mt Gibbs, Mt Dana, and the Dana Plateau rim in the background. South Tufa itself is tiny at the right frame edge. Panum Crater is in front of Mt Gibbs.

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After a fair distance one comes to the second significant tufa outcrops beyond South Tufa at a couple miles. There I set up this sand spit pond for another modest reflection image. A group of seagulls were relaxing atop the narrow spit providing reflections too. In the background frame left is Mt Warren and at center Dunderberg Peak. At frame left in the background is a black cinder cone on Paoha Island. Note rather smooth lake waters reflecting only mild breezes at mid morning. I was pleasantly surprised to find no mosquitoes or black flies about.

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Another nice feature along these remote shores was areas of sand dunes without any footprints. Thus moved to a position in the morning light at 8:45am PDT off to frame left, where sand wind ripples stood out best. These volcanic sands are mostly pumice and obsidian. In the distance are Mono Craters, Mt Wood, and snowy Kuna Crest.

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And per above, I then turned towards the northwest direction for another image across the dunes with Mono Lake in the background. Notice how green these rabbitbush are that indicates just below sands, their roots are down into to the cap rock layer above which ground water flows towards the lake. In the distance frame left are Mt Warren and Dunderberg Pk while at frame right Paoha Island.

Further east it was impossible to walk along the shore edge due to increasing marshy areas. Sand spits were underlain with marshy material that would not support walking on. In one spot I sank down to my knee and there were other likely bottomless spots. Additionally inland were larger areas of marshes interspersed with drier clumps of rabbitbush. I had studied the areas with Google Earth, but route finding had to be done visually at ground level. I managed to get about 4 miles down the shore. Found a spring at the base of tufas with a surprisingly strong flow that fed into a large marsh very active with life. Birds like swifts were all about eating flying insects while blackbirds were continually making their calls. There were also some larger birds including geese and an ibis. By noon I had turned at quite a distance inland around then slowly made my way back west across unpleasant soft sands. By time I reached the Forester, had probably walked about 9 miles and was rather weary.

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SR120 Yosemite National Park

Instead of spending more time in the Mono Basin, I had seen enough to move on and my plan was to return west on SR120, through Yosemite where I would dabble along the way, and out to the Evergreen Road areas. At 7540 feet in the Yosemite Creek canyon, the highway passes a nice early season cascade. It is also an excellent spot to fill up water bottles and wash car windows as water overflows along the street.

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At bedrock roadside slabs along SR120 at 7920 stopped for this late afternoon shot of peaking mountain pride penstemon, penstemon newberryi, great red paintbrush, castilleja miniata, and sticky cinquefoil, potentilla grandulosa. I continue west, out of the park then east on Evergreen Road in Stanislaus National Forest where I parked at a familiar spot to overnight.

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Evergreen Road

Tuesday dawn June 12, I was up and out to a favorite location for flowers roadside at Ackerson Meadows. Breeze was light as I set up to shoot the above dense patch of dew covered Sierra calicoflower, downingia montana.

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The area had lots of madia, madia elegans, so setup this close-up of that included pretty face, triteleia ixiodes, and one valley tassels.

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A mile east along the road stopped for this Brewer's lupine, lupinus breweri.

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Forest areas had numbers of western blue flag, iris missouriensis, so I walked about until finding this optimal specimen with nice balance and color. Traditionally with cameras, the very 3 dimensional iris species are generally difficult to image close due to limited depth of field however focus stacking has no such issue allowing capture allows of much more detail.

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Just east of where Evergreen Road crosses the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne River, are patches of the large fragrant western azalea, rhododendron occidentale. The species is common along larger streams at this lower forest elevation. With a breeze absent found a nice clump of flowers above.

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Another species with traditional depth of field difficulty are the mariposa with deep flower bowls. Again the unlimited depth of field with focus stacking allows capturing fine details of the full flower.

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By mid afternoon breezes made additional close-up work impossible. I drove back into the park and then hiked out to an area behind Pywiack Dome I wanted to explore. Except managed to leave some gear in the car so hiked back. Then driving back west stopped for a view of Cloud's Rest above. Back out of the park, I drove to a familiar dirt road spot to overnight along Mather Road.

Wednesday June 13, waited till the Camp Mather gate into Yosemite opened at 7am and then drove to a favorite area of granite slabs. For the image at page top I came upon an interesting complex of live forever, dudleya cymosa, jewelflower aka shieldleaf, streptanthus tortuosus, and gone to seed wooly sunflower, eriophyllum linatum, growing up through a skeleton of dead manzanita branches. And on the old wood are patches of frog green hued wolf lichen, letharia vulpina.

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There were many more subjects than I was able to capture because a breeze had once again come up making focus stacking difficult. I hunted about in areas where the breeze was somewhat blocked. With patience was able to capture the above beautiful Mariposa clarkia, clarkia biloba.

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Another subject I was able to capture was this pretty elegant brodiaea, brodiaea elegans, backlit in morning sunlight against a shadowed boulder.

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Next is the tangled mix of Mariposa clarkia and wooly sunflowers.

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Finally beside a small meadow stream, shot at an acute angle across a dense patch of backlit slender tarweed, madia gracillis, with a light hue version of purple owls clover, orthocarpus purpurascens, and common monkeyflowers. By noon was on the road home. My work in the Mono Basin was not as productive as expected, however was able to capture nice close-ups for a number of familiar species out in the Mather area.

NEXT:  Page 6   Glen Alpine Creek Basin Backpack
2018 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

   David Senesac
   email: info@davidsenesac.com

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