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NEXT:  Page 7   Carson Pass 6/23
2018 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 6/18
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 6/19
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 6/20
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 6/21
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 6/22

2018 Trip Chronicles:  Page 6

Glen Alpine Creek Backpack

After my SR120 trip, I would not spend many days at home before setting out again as wildflowers would be peaking about mid forest elevations of the Central Sierra. I also had a ticket for rock concerts during the coming holiday week that I needed to be back home for. Online at recreation dot gov, picked up a 3 night wilderness permit for the Glen Alpine Creek Trailhead for June 19 through 22. As the Monday morning June 18, commute waned, I drove against that commute traffic out of the SF Bay Area, across the valley and up SR88.

Just before reaching Carson Spur there is a good zone in dense forest with snow plant, sarcodes sanguinea, so stopped and wandered around some where I worked the below subject in shade. There were fine expanses of mule ears east of Caples Lake that I walked around at and made plans to return to the day after my backpack. Across Carson Pass I turned north on SR89 and drove into the Tahoe basin where I stopped at the Raley's supermarket for a chicken fried rice and chicken soup dinner. I decided to get a jump on my backpack by hiking in the 1.4 miles up 400 feet to just outside the wilderness boundary, however into to get that in before dusk would require moving quickly.


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So drove to the Glen Alpine Creek trailhead at 6600 feet, parked, and performed a minimal gear check tossing in a few items including 2 Yoplait yogurts that I might as well eat on the trail versus sitting unrefrigerated 4 days inside the car. The first mile is atop a very rocky 4WD road only open to residents with high wheelbase 4WD. Near the wilderness boundary not far from the trail at 6950 feet, I set up my new Copper Spur HV UL tent for the second time. Since this was a popular black bear zone, my food was in a Bear Vault 450 with the yogurts in an Ursack.

Glen Alpine Creek

As warm sunlight illuminated the ridge west on Tuesday morning June 19, I packed up then was quickly back on the trail that soon reaches a junction for the Grass Lake spur trail in zone 35 where I needed to camp my first permit night. Taking a few information images with my moto g smartphone camera, I noticed the battery was already down to 46% so would need to charge it with the 6000ma-hr storage battery pack I had brought. But then wondered if I had also brought a USB-C to USB-A cable to attach the two? Well several minutes of searching in my pack showed it was not. In fact it was also not on my detailed gear checklist I had been editing before the trip so needed to be added. Bringing the smartphone was of marginal importance so decided to stash that and the storage battery inside a Zip Lock bag near the trail junction since they were now just dead weight.


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Continuing on, the trail crosses branches of the creek in two places on tree trunks with Grass Lake at 7420 feet reached in less than a mile. There I removed my Osprey Talon 22 photo daypack from the Aether 70 backpack and explored the southeast side of the lake for photo subjects. A minor breeze on the lake was waning so expected to work some reflection subjects. Near a camp spot too illegally close to the lake edge, captured the above old Sierra juniper against the sky. The landscape is somewhat difficult to move around on due to much brush within glaciated granite that shows lower left in this image. In the background is Cracked Crag at 8782 feet with a bit of snow.


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For all the effort, there was not much on that side of the lake worth photographing nor much in the way of camp spots. When the breeze had waned to what was probably a morning null, I shot the above modest reflection that shows the lake has above average aesthetics with rusty metamorphic Jacks Peak and the cascade below Susie Lake in the background. The trail continues along the southwest shore before reaching a large old packer campsite much too close to the lake edge. Beyond that small cliffs prevent working along the shore. I chose to climb up a steep ravine, however a better strategy could leave the trail near the lake outlet. After a slow hour, reached a bench above Grass Lake where I made camp on bunch grass beneath shady lodgepole pines. Modest numbers of mosquitoes were about my camp zone that had me apply DEET to my hands, wrist, and face. A nice pool in a seasonal stream from melting snows on Cracked Crag provided a refreshing mid day dip.


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I explored the area in the afternoon setting up for the above subject of mountain pride penstemon, penstemon newberyi, about rusty metamorphic rock with Grass Lake below. In the distance beyond the basin mouth is 10067 foot Monument Peak, at the Heavenly Ski Area I skied many days at during the 2018 winter. Otherwise did not find any particularly strong subjects in this remote area.


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Just before the sun dropped behind the tall ridge west, did work this interesting subject of pussypaws, calyptridium unbellatum, the pink flowers of which were just sticking up enough above mostly shadowed stones.


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Wednesday morning June 20, was up at dawn, packed up, and after working some modest subjects continued on my cross country route towards Halfmoon Lake I would base camp at. Along the way surveyed familiar areas with wind flagged Sierra junipers. At a small pond surrounded by rusty metamorphic rock was able to capture the above nice reflection. On its rocky slope are red mountain heather and blue elderberry


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I also stopped along the way for the above modest reflection image of the rusty metamorphic geology of Jacks Peak in Susie Lake.


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By late morning had fashioned out a camp spot below a shading lodgepole pine at a remote spot well away from trails. Above 7800 feet in less sun exposed spots were still patches of melting snows that offered trickling water supplies for easier dispersed camping at this early period of summer. After lunch and a long nap, was out later by mid afternoon hunting for gnarly juniper subjects. However a modest wind had developed that I suspected was an earlier than forecast arrival of a dry front from a storm in Oregon that was supposed to show Thursday afternoon. The branch shaking winds would limit my photographic work because of mis-registration of focus stacked shots however junipers are very sturdy trees with foliage that does not move easily. First though I went down to a stream and enjoyed a refreshing dip then hour laying atop smooth warm bedrock getting a start to a summer tan. After that, I went up and shot per above one of four spectacular wind monarch Sierra juniper, juniperus grandis, in the zone. What one does not see from this orientation is how swept back the tree form is.


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Nearby winds had shaped another juniper prostrate against the granite bedrock.


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Also captured a small single frame image on the above group of five fine trees that were it not for the wind, would have made a larger panoramic image. The rest of the afternoon was not productive as winds increased. And likewise after retiring into my tent well before sunset, winds shook my tent all night.


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A strong wind was still blowing early Thursday morning June 21, the first official day of summer 2018. Despite the wind, I decided to make use of my time exploring a view point atop a ridge that I had analyzed before the trip. Thus set out on a long route. Within dense forest traveled over a small lens of snow where a mule deer had apparently also just stepped across. In the firm snow were wonderful footprints so setup to take the above shot. The heart shaped hoof impression in the snow is about an inch deep. As winter snow melts down, it concentrates fallen forest debris on its surface.


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Upon reaching the very windy viewpoint after a steep metamorphic scree climb, I took a set of I was here shots with my wide angle lens and planned to return Friday morning if the wind waned. In the distance huge Lake Aloha's surface was extremely unsettled with waves. Further along on this morning's route, I worked the above dense clump of spreading phlox, phlox diffusa, that was especially abundant this early period of summer atop rocky areas.


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And yet, another nice spreading phlox subject living in a small granite joint crack full of drying lodgepole pine needles. A good sign was the wind seemed to be waning.


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By noon had returned to my base camp from the long morning route, made lunch, and then taken a nap. With the wind subsiding some to a near manageable level, by mid afternoon was back out to work juniper subjects I had surveyed Wednesday. My first subject was an impressive juniper wind snag I had shot with my 4x5 view camera years before. Without any live green branches to possibly shake around, it was an ideal subject.


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Another wind safe subject was the above base trunk patterns of a large juniper. Wolf lichen shows on some of the wood.

The 4 column stitch blend image at page top shows a group of several impressive wind sculpted junipers including the snag from 2 images above.


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And above yet another fine wind flagged Sierra juniper with more trees down below in the mid ground. Well before sunset began a long night of sleep. As I woke up during wee hours of the night, it was nice to hear silence as the wind event had passed offering a chance for quiet waters.


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At sunrise Friday June 22, I packed up gear, moved my pack closer to the Pacific Crest Trail I would be using to hike out, then set out towards the viewpoint I had visited Thursday. Reaching the top about 7:30am, I found perfect conditions with just a gentle breeze and relatively quiet lake waters in the distance. The dark blue lake waters could look better with a nice lighter more saturated blue between about 9am and 10am, however by that time the bright white snow on the Crystal Range peaks would be harsh. And by that time of morning Aloha is usually breezy that it indeed became. I thus set up my Nodal Ninja III MK II panoramic head for an especially large 24 frame image with 8 columns and 3 rows. The larger a stitch blend image, the more careful to be with each frame as a single mistake on one frame may result in a whole multi frame image being unusable. And that process required about 20 minutes to fully shoot its 131 individual shots. The above is a crop from the full 23400 by 12000 pixel image. The full image is geometrically awkward with shadowed areas at frame bottom. I needed to include those areas in order to capture one of the Heather Lake islands. To appreciate the great amount of detail in the image, select the enlarged vertical slice view.


The above 100% crop is from a section of the ridgeline center left. Note the patterns of melting snow with sag lines. And can you find this small lake from the image for the 100% crop below? Note there are 2 small lakes besides Heather and Aloha.


After climbing down from the view point, I stopped for a close-up of hollow ice plates. This phenomenon occurs when during nights, the surface of a puddle of still shallow water freezes and then the water beneath drains away. Kids everywhere of course love stepping on such ice because it makes a sound sort of like breaking glass. By mid morning I was back at my stashed backpack that I hoisted up and began a slow mostly downhill slog back to the trailhead. By time I reached the Forester, my feet were rather sore requiring frequent stops. Down the road and back on SR89, I drove a bit north to the Tallac Creek crossing where I took a refreshing dip beneath the road in the shallow stream. Then it was on to Raley's supermarket for some fresh food and later drove on towards Carson Pass that I would work the following morning.


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2018 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

   David Senesac
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