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NEXT:  Page 4   Middle Fork of Bishop Creek basin
2022 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

Pacific Grove 6/28
Pacific Grove 6/29
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 7/5
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 7/6
Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 7/7
Hilton Creek Lakes Backpack 7/13
Hilton Creek Lakes Backpack 7/14
Hilton Creek Lakes Backpack 7/15

2022 Trip Chronicles:  Page 3

Pacific Grove 6/28

Five days later on Tuesday June 28, 2022 I once again drove south the 65 miles to the Monterey Peninsula back to Pacific Grove. For such coastal work, I will check tide charts and weather forecasts. The Pacific Grove northwest headlands is a particularly foggy coastal location that on this day was forecast to burn off by midday but lasted till mid afternoon. Although fog can sometimes enhance graphic, especially back lit subjects, it is more likely to make subjects dim, flat, and boring. Most of the subjects I'd surveyed the week before were afternoon subjects that allowed me hours to fully explore shorelines around the peninsula and then enjoy some street exercise.

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The first subject I worked was at 3pm while the above wide angle 19mm lens landscape with pinnacles out on Lover's Point at Hays Perkins Park was shot at 4:15pm PDT. When tidal levels are high enough, large waves focus their explosive crashing energy within the confines of this channel that provides an exciting location to sit back and watch. Dark black California mussels, mytilus californianus, beds are abundant on the granite rock. The beds dense intricate surfaces provide shelter for many other invertebrates that draws an array of larger species that prey on them. Notice at frame upper left in the distance across Monterey Bay, the dark coastal mountains to the north that the moisture heavy marine air dims.

Many visitors to the popular tourist park shore enjoy climbing out on the rocky point. My expensive Zamberlan water resistant boots I backpack with in the Sierra Nevada also grip well on such abrasive granular granite surfaces as I move about on such rocks. However such surfaces are also dangerous to one's soft skin should one slip.

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The above is an oblique view with my medium telephoto 85mm lens along a particularly rocky outcrop section of the shore. The high bluff along the north Pacific Grove shore provides nice downward perspectives for photographers versus those along the level west shores of Asilomar State Beach. By looking at a topographic map for these shorelines and being familiar with what looks best at the various tide levels, one can assess where and when to plunk down one's tripod for such perspectives. Instead of driving home, I linked up with a couple bros that had a job servicing windows on the Monterey Peninsula that were staying overnight at a Seaside motel where I conveniently slept overnight inside my Subaru in its back parking lot.

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Pacific Grove 6/29

The next lazy morning of Wednesday June 29, 2022, after departing from my bros, drove back to the Pacific Grove where I had to wait till a bit after midday for the fog to burn off. Thus more hours of exploring shoreline areas then enjoyable street walking exercise along the shoreline paved path while listening to music on my MP3 player earbuds. This sand close-up was shot at 1:45pm PDT just after the rising tide pushed a finger of wave seawater onto dry sand. Such a subject with fine detail that is lost when downsizing views more interesting at 100% pixels, thus look via the enlarged vertical slice view.

At page top an 85mm lens shot at 3PM, is a favorite rock outcrop where 29 Brandts cormorants, urile penicillatus, enjoy roosting and leaving their white droppings after returning from morning feeding. The diving into the sea cormorants unlike most aquatic birds, do not have oil insulated feathers but rather must dry out their wet feathers by sunning on such safe from predators offshore rocks.

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Another close-up with a coarse surface bedrock granodiorite boulder embedded in the coarse sands. Note the yellow and red sections of the rock that reflects the amount of surface iron minerals seawater has rusted out. Grains of chemically rusted out minerals don't last long leaving more of the white silicaseous sand. The Asilomar State Beach headlands along the west shores of Pacific Grove afford excellent setting sun views across rocky outcrop islets on uncommon days with little low fog overcast and rather high cirrus clouds. Neither of the two days I was there offered much at sunset so at mid afternoon drove home.

Glen Alpine Creek Backpack 7/5

Late morning on Tuesday July 5, 2022, I drove east across the Central Valley via the usual route I drive during winter for winter skiing at South Lake Tahoe, arriving mid afternoon. After buying some food for the day at the Y Raleys supermarket, continued on to the Glen Alpine Springs trailhead at 6550 feet where I parked near the gate, then finalized gear and secured my Forester. On most week days, the parking lot fills up from day use folks but by late afternoon, most have returned leaving plenty of parking space. The first mile is a 4WD road up to the historic Glen Alpine Springs Resort as well as a few private land cabins. After departing, stashed my smartphone in rocks beside the trail since I didn't want to carry that extra weight. My wilderness permit began on Wednesday July 6, so I just hiked in to the Desolation Wilderness boundary at 7200 feet up 700 feet and a couple miles. There went off trail and in the dark set up my sleeping bag and gear tentless atop my ground sheet. I did not sleep as much as hoped for due to my crude uneven spot and poorly organized gear I tossed down in the dark. In fact, to save weight, given several days sunny forecast, did not bring my tent. Carrying weight this trip was about 58 pounds.

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Morning summer sun is unblocked across Lake Tahoe into parts of the Glen Alpine Creek basin. I rose on Wednesday July 6, 2022 a sunny day, as warm light illuminated areas west and was soon on the trail. Given my polycythemia vera condition and right shoulder rotator cuff injury tendonitis, had not been able to exercise as effectively as usual so would be stopping frequently on most thigh high boulders and logs along the trail. Where I reached the Pacific Crest Trail, PCT, is a particularly shadowy zone with wet mosquito ponds vegetation. Thus for the only time during the trip, applied some 100% DEET to my only exposed skin on hands, wrist, and face. The rest of the trip the bloodsuckers were at most just a minor issue early and late. I expected wildflowers would be near peak for what it was during this odd droughty year and that is what I found. Plenty of snow was still melting at shadowed higher areas of the zone that also kept streams flowing at nice mid summer levels.

I reached Susie Lake early where a few groups were just beginning to rise at usual PCT trailside used campspots along the popular aesthetic lake at 7795 feet. I stopped to chat with a group of young twentysomething gals with obvious red welts on their skin wearing just shorts and t-shirts swatting mosquitoes. Wearing a neck drape cap, heavy Levi 505 jeans, nylon shell, full body covering, I gave them some advice on appropriate mosquito season clothing for their future backpacking. Crossing the outlet stream on this low snow year was trivial and I was soon beyond the lake climbing up towards my destination zone between Susie and Heather, about 5 miles total from the trailhead. After arriving I walked about for a half hour evaluating possible camp spots in that zone where it is difficult to locate spots out of view of the heavy traffic on the PCT. Especially given the irregular rocky uneven metamorphic geology of the area. But yes, I found an obscure pristine flowery spot per above image within a grove of shady mountain junipers that are better known as Sierra junipers. A small stream for my water supply was a minor walk away.

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Instead of setting up camp, I dropped gear then hiked west on the PCT to the east end of Heather Lake for a photo about 10:45am PDT. The ridge behind the deep cold water lake is about a half mile distant while the snowy granitic Crystal Range is another 1.5 miles with large Lake Aloha unseen between the two. 9983 foot Pyramid Peak at frame left and 9975 foot Mt. Price right. The lake was rather breezy as I worked the above 5 column stitch blended panorama, a huge 14000 by 5800 pixel image that later after post processing I was impressed by how well it turned out with superb detail. My 56mm, 30mm, and new 85mm prime lenses are exceptionally sharp optics one can understand via the enlarged vertical slice view. At that distance, the snowy areas though in slightly offset front lit sunlight are far enough distant that due to atmospheric dimming, are not overly harsh for the camera sensor's dynamic range. Every bit as sharp using best apertures of F4.5 to F5.6, as what one can expect with the best full frame camera system, though requires more stitched frames to do so. Stitch blending breezy wavy lake waters requires taking a set of additional quick same exposure level, same manual focus, shots of each frame in order for Autopano Kolor stitching software to be able to blend together frames without the result looking unnatural. And likewise because clouds were continually moving, also took a like quick set manually focused on infinity. Doing so, it is impossible to move my tripod panoramic head with detents back to the exact position of earlier frames, however being careful make that workable.

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After that one subject, I returned to my delightful juniper grove, set up a camp, cooked a freeze dried meal, and then took an hour nap. Later in the afternoon shot the above trunk close-up of one of the groves impressive old juniper's weathered fine wood grain. Climbed up a dome to survey areas east working a couple subjects I declined to process.

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The next early sunny breezy morning Thursday July 7, 2022 was unproductive as I looked about for wildflower foregrounds. The above subject shot at 8:45am on this rocky metasedimentary geology, turned out nicely with many small wildflowers, a spectacular mountain juniper, juniperus occidentalis var australis, and the snowy Mt Price. Were it not so breezy moving the vegetation, instead of using my medium wide 30mm lens would have used my 56mm lens with a 3 column 2 row stitch blend that would have allowed much better detail of the foreground flowers. Note in front of the juniper, the wind shaped smooth form of the bush chinquapin, chrysolepis sempervirens. To the left of that juniper up in the sky is a ponderosa pine, pinus ponderosa. In the background below Mt Price are a few mountain hemlock, tsuga mertensiana. Along the lower right frame are areas of pinemat manzanita, arctostaphylos nevadensis. Wildflowers include myriad tiny pinkish white true baby stars, leptosiphon bicolor, fragrant ground level pinkish Sierra onion, allium campanulatum, behind the green grass a few spreading phlox, phlox diffusa, a few pretty face, triteleia ixioides, bright yellow wooly sunflower, eriophyllum linatum, past peak single stem groundsel, senecio intergerrimus, a few narrow-leaf stonecrop, sedum lanceolatum, and to the left of the chinquapin, light yellow sulphur flower, eriogonum umbellatum. As the trip turned out, breezes prevented working a number of other fine subjects both wildflower close-ups and landscapes that I'll just need to return to over another summer.

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This next cascade and mountain juniper image above, not far from my camp spot, was shot at 10am. Unseen below the cascade is a dark pool that is in shade most hours of the day. In the full image on the misty sides of the falls within rusty metamorphic geology rock, I could see red Indian paintbrush and crimson columbine. Note the few bright white fallen juniper branches on ledges and bushes below the gnarly old tree, some of which may be over a millennium in age. My Sigma 19mm F2.8 relatively is not a sharp prime lens so I usually downsize full image sizes from the default 6000x4000 to 5400x3600 pixels.

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TP09942-57  4000x6000 pixels  1 frame 16 image focus stack blend  A6000 30mm
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At 1pm PDT midday I shot this 30mm landscape towards Mt Price that is at about 240 degrees or 30 degrees south of due west. Notice the short shadows behind the ponderosa pines below Mt Price that reflect the sun's azimuth and altitude at this near solstice time of summer at our latitude. One might expect a landscape at midday to be harsh but if one studies light at different directions, there may be offset from direct front lit orientations that work nicely. Unseen below the slope in the foreground is a small pristine stream I used for my water supply. At frame lower edge center are bush chinquapin with several pink hued mountain spirae, spirae densiflora, and a large patch of yellow sulphur flower, eriogonum umbellatum, above. On other ledges on the bench are many shieldleaf and sego lilies. Frame mid left between the large white patch of snow and junipers is another sharp ravine the outlet stream from Heather Lake flows through.

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This close-up of a mountain juniper branch is covered the bizarre forms of bright frog yellow green wolf lichen, letharia vulpina.

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Worked about 12 noon, the above wind pruned flagged mountain juniper shows the narrow windward view. Other tree species with a flagged form use a similar strategy of hiding their live cambium branches behind older now dead weather beaten trunks of the younger tree. A reason this zone has so many spectacular juniper, few of which can be seen from the PCT, is because of high winds from the west and northwest funneling through the gaps of Mosquito Pass then Heather Lake. Note below in front the glacially smoothed dark metamorphic rock with pinemat manzanita growing in soils of the protected cracked rock in front. And off to the left in back is another severely wind tortured juniper.

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Back at my shaded camp grove, I cooked then consumed another freeze dried dinner, took a refreshing dip in the stream, and then rested until 3pm. Then set out for some view points I'd surveyed Wednesday and shot the above 5 frame stitch blended panorama with my new Sigma medium telephoto 85mm lens that is equivalent to 110mm full frame. Frame upper right in the background is Tahoe's highest peak, Freel Peak at 10881 feet. Below that are ugly brown burned remains of the awful immense 2021 Caldor Fire. At frame upper right are dark metavolcanic geology slopes of Mt Tallac.

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This 56mm lens image a bit before 6pm shows part of Susie Lake and slopes east to 9735 foot Mt Tallac. Most visitors to Susie Lake select camp sites on that ridge containing many fine mountain junipers.

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Classic side profile of a wind flagged mountain juniper.Note light yellow hued sulphur flowers growing about its wind protected base, rich with centuries of tree debris.

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85mm lens close-up of spreading phlox, phlox diffusa. For most of my close-up flower work, I either use shoot when a subject is in shade or use a collapsible diffusion disk. On this trip to save some weight, that was left at home. Otherwise may try to use my body to block a subject if small enough which herein was too large.

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A landscape somewhat similar to TP00019-00064-5x1v.jpg but shot at 6:10pm with my 56mm. Although I spent a second night camped there, the next morning given more windy weather, decided to forgo any serious photography and instead packed up then headed back to the trailhead then drove home. A reasonably productive effort, my 212th backpacking trip over 5 decades, that could have been much more so with lighter winds. More importantly the strenuous activity seemed to significantly improve my right shoulder tendonitis that had been stubbornly plaguing this person for months.

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Hilton Creek Lakes Backpack 7/13

Weeks before this trip, bro J and I discussed the idea for this adventure, then set a date that he was then able to arange his work schedule around. During July 4, 1996, 2 of us had previously backpacked into Hilton Lake #2. This trip we were targeting Lake #1 that is also named Davis Lake. Our plan was to meet up midday on Wednesday July 13, 2022 at another bros residence in Tracy then we'd take his Truck over Sonora Pass on SR108 then south on US395 vectoring off to Mammoth where I'd pick up the reserved wilderness permit, then continue south and up Rock Creek Road to the 9850 foot trailhead. With maybe a couple hours of daylight, we'd hike up the trail about 2.7 miles to where I expect a stream still flowed. Well, we made additional stops in both Lee Vining and Mammoth so by time we reached the 9870 foot trailhead, it was already 8pm sunset with the landscapes darkening. Of course it then took time to finalized packing and securing his truck. J had issues with his several broken pack straps. Another cool climbing couple was parked nearby as we finalized gear, hoisted our quite heavy packs, then walked a short distance down the paved road to a sign with the wide severely beaten up surface foot trail rising diagonaling up through a dense mixed lodgepole and aspen forest.

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Not far up the trail, I dropped my pack and climbed up about 20 feet where I stashed a Ziplock bag with my motog smartphone I didn't want to be needlessly carrrying, into dead log debris. At the 0.24 mile point up 150 feet, we reached a bench at 10020 where the trail remains relatively level with minor up and downs and took our first short break on a log. We put on headlamps in the increasing darkness. A trail from the campground is passed at 1.1 miles and then a couple streams as the often soft sandy trail drops down to 9800 where I expected a stream we might camp at. Instead, the ravine full of sandy soils was very dry with aspen, obviously finding water well below the surface. My water bottle was rather low so I would just need to drink sparingly. We continued forward back uphill stopping frequently leaning against any available boulders that was increasingly exhausting in terrain I was a bit confused about versus the map. At the 10040 point, we reached a sloping dry brushy bench with reasonable areas to toss our ground sheets and gear down tentless in order to get some needed sleep. This was 2.4 miles up 500 feet and down 240 from our start. I set up with my feet against a large lodgepole pine trunk that also blocked a near full moon. A mosquito or two buzzed around. It was not a zone I'd ever expect to see a bear, dead quiet, as we slept through the night.

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As the sun shown on higher peaks, we rose on Thursday July 14, 2022, packed up, hoisted packs, and were on our way. We soon reached the top of a willow sand marsh at the 3 mile point, our original night camp zone. No water where the trail passed but likely down within the willow jungle below I'd explore during the trip return hike. I had printed out topo maps and NAIP satellite images that showed where we would vector off the trail at 10200 and pass over the ridge top at 10220. That went well as we rambled across sandy soft level terrain that seemed to follow ducks. At the ridge top, we ended up further down the ridge than I'd planned and that resulted in moving through a brief maze of stunted aspen and chinquapin. With 2 miles to go, beyond was a variable 400 foot forested slope we steadily maneuvered down through obstacles with a large trail certain to be encountered along the canyon bottom. We ended up about two tenths of a mile north of where I intended so, winded our way back south through the dense lodgepole forest along Davis Lake's east shore at 9806 feet then picked up a well defined use trail. The sizeable stream had several rock choices for crossing that we managed quickly. Then was further along the undulating shoreline use trail that eventually crossed our verdant campground zone stream leading to a large open sandy zone within dense forest we had targeted in the satellite image that would be our base camp over the next two nights. This was about 5 miles and up and down about 800 feet vertical from the trailhead. By vectoring off cross country we saved about a mile and 200 feet of vertical.

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There were two cold pristine streams draining the towering slopes above that still held modest areas of north facing snow. I took a look at our shore bay and noticed plenty of surface trout activity. We made camps, set out our cooking gear, filled our water bottles, then rigged up fishing gear. Casting out a 1/8 oz Kastmaster, caught a nice 10.5 inch rainbow trout on my first cast. Over the next 45 minutes caught another 11.5" then a 10" rainbow, enough to make a meal so ended my fishing effort. After cleaning the fish, began a usual cooking process in J's 12" frying pan.

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J continued fishing for quite awhile. The above is J's pan full that included some Eastern brook trout and German brown trout mixed with rice. The rest of the day explored the zone, relaxed, and enjoyed.

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The rest of the day I explored our zone, relaxed, and enjoyed. The below dusk image of the Earth shadow, looks east northeast across the west bay of the lake.

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After preparing photo gear before I went to sleep, was up at dawn on Friday July 15, 2022, then quick to take off counterclockwise around our lake as J got ready for a morning of fishing. Nicely the lake was reasonably calmed that allowed working lake reflection subjects. This above 5 column 14000 by 6000 pixel stitch panorama towards the south was the first subject I worked at 7:15am. Our camp area was across the lake below the cascade in the background at center our main drinking water source. Notes the shadowed water grasses in the foreground At frame left is 11962 foot Patricia Peak that is just left of where we would move to Saturday. At center is 12394 foot Mt Huntington, and at right in the background 12838 foot Mt Stanford. During most years early July, there would still be much more snow on these peaks. Black gnats were hatching that caused feeding fish disrupting my near camera reflection. Thus at one point tossed a small rock out there that scared them away long enough to take the set of 44 individual shots.

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15 minutes later further along the shore, worked this 3 column stitch blend towards the northwest. Most of the trees at the lake shores are lodgepole pines while the lighter green trees mid right are quaking aspen. The big peak above is 13000 foot Mt Morgan, a good 3000 feet above the lake. The reason for the stunted aspen are in that corner of the lake is due to snow avalanches pruning away any taller trees down that towering slope. Where the taller lodgepoles start beyond the those aspen is not next to them but rather at the end of a peninsula with a large bay on the other side where we were camped that reaches almost to where that cascade drops.

At the top of this section is the view north about 12pm from our camp zone. At the far end is where most horse packing groups camp. This lake with good fishing is one of the most heavily visited Sierra Nevada backcountry lakes for equestrian enthusisasts. J caught several more trout that we enjoyed after 6pm for dinner. We decided to move up to Hilton Lake #3 in the morning that would reduce the distance and uphill effort returning to the trailhead.

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In the morning of Saturday July 16, 2022, we packed up early without any fishing or photography, then about 7:30am hiked up the trail along the outlet stream of lake #2, then across the north shore and onto the main canyon trail that climbed to our destination, Hilton Lake #3 at 10300 feet, we reached a bit after 9am. A decent camp zone away from others was found near the end of the west south shore. After making camp I worked the above modest 3 column stitch blend image of the slightly breezy lake with Mt Hilton in the background that is actually at the eastern rib end of Mt Huntington. J grabbed his rod and climbed around the lake clockwise to a convenient snow field for some Koolaide snow. After making lunch J took off on an ambitious hike to nearby Hilton Lake #4 3 of us had spent a night at in 1996 while I wandered about bench areas north of the lake. Later in the day we enjoyed our last full day of the trip relaxing at camp.

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We rose lazily on the morning of Sunday July 17, 2022. There was too much of a breeze to bother with any photography and J had had his fill of fishing so we packed up and began our 4.7 mile effort back to the trailhead. Instead of dropping all the way to the trail junction, we shaved off about 1/10 mile and 100 feet of vertical by traversing. From there, the top of the ridge was a minor half mile 200 foot climb. Then 1.1 miles pounded down the wide sandy trail to the large sand marsh where we took a break. The 3 prime reasons the trail is so unpleasant is because the morainal ridge between Rock and Hilton Creeks contains large amounts of coarse soft sand, the horse packer traffic digs that sand up keeping it loose, and three horse manure is churned up in the sand with frequent smelly piles swarming with houseflies. I explored down below through willow thickets and found usable seeps in both areas. From there was another unpleasant trudge through soft sand and dirt 2.7 miles up 500 feet down 400 to the trailhead.

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2022 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

   David Senesac
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