Wow! It’s Been a Zoo-y Two Months
We left for the Eastern Sierras on Oct 25th and arrived in the Ancient Bristlecone Pines Forest on Sunday, October 27. Just getting there was an adventure. First, the right brake light on our toad (towed,) a Geo Tracker, didn’t work. I immediately diagnosed the problem but no one had the part or knew where to buy one. Assuming we could find the part along the way, we departed for our first overnight layover in Beatty, NV. We never found the part nor even anyone who knew what I was talking about.
Along the way, we stopped at REI in Las Vegas to buy Mary’s birthday presents (it was the xxth anniversary of her 29th birthday!) Since Mary is an avid hiker, we got her a Magellan handheld GPS and my favorite, an ACR Electronics ResQLink 406, aka, personal locator beacon. In theory, it signals the nearest sheriff/police/SAR (search & rescue) office via satellite in the event of an emergency in the back country. Hopefully, she’ll never need to deploy it but it makes me feel better knowing that Mary has it.
We got to Beatty late Saturday night and found the town has banned all overnight RV parking except at RV parks charging exorbitant prices for a place to sleep for 6 hours. Rather than submit to their extortion racket, we pressed on to Lida Junction where US 95 and US 266 intersect. There, we simply pulled off the highway, deployed the slide and spent a quiet night.
The next morning, we drove into California to the intersection of US 266 and CA 168 where we unhooked the toad for the ascent up the White Mountains. That’s when we realized the toad had about 2 gallons of gas and Big Pine, the next gas station, was 38 miles away. The toad gets 18mpg on the flats so climbing a 6800 ft summit seemed a bit dicey but we didn’t have a choice since the 5 cylinder diesel in the RV wasn’t going to be able to tow up 7 and 8 percent grades. The toad made it into Big Pine with less than 1/10 of a gallon in the tank.
We saw the above tree on the way into Big Pine. We went back the next day and made the photo. FYI, you’d think making a photo of a tree would be a slam-dunk but I have about a dozen other photos to prove otherwise. The tree is beside CA 168, about 2 miles outside Big Pine. While trying to keep an eye on drivers who were gawking at the tree, I made several photos that, when straightened and cropped, didn’t leave space between the tree and one side of the frame. Others were ruined because I wasn’t watching the sun angle and more were culled due to plain bad composition.
We had originally planned to camp at Grandview campground, about 5 miles from the Ancient Bristlecone Pines Visitors’ Center, but the weather looked iffy so we stayed at a nice county park in Big Pine. That turned out to be prescient because that night, the wind was so strong, we thought it was raining when falling leaves pelted the RV. I can’t imagine what the winds must have been like at 10,000 feet.
The reason I went so late in the season was to, hopefully, make photos of bristlecone pines in snow. Well, it had snowed about two weeks earlier but no new snow was forecast. I had hoped to hike the 4 mile Methuselah Trail in search of its namesake tree, the oldest certified bristlecone pine but it started to snow. The first photo is Mary and me about a mile into Methuselah Trail.When it started snowing, Mary, who is a much more experienced hiker than me, decided it was too sketchy to do the entire 4 miles so we cut off onto what was supposed to be a shortcut back to the trail head. It was shorter but steeper. After about 6 or 7 switchbacks that became increasingly steeper, we finally crested the ridge to find the sun coming out, bummer.
The second photo is my favorite from this session. I titled it, “Squaw Among Bristlecones.” I know the word “squaw” has fallen out of favor with the PC police but I felt it had the right connotation for this photo. Besides, the word is thought to be derived from an Algonquin word. In any case, I saw the pattern in the tree and thought it would translate well in HDR and I think it has. The other three photos are just random samples of various trees I saw. As you can see, I went a bit overboard with HDR this trip.
I often noticed Manzanar on my trips up and down US 395. As an American of Japanese descent, I had heard of Manzanar but never paid much attention. The Japanese ethos of “shigataga-nai” (can’t be helped or, in the vernacular, “sh*t happens”) kept it blocked off as just one of those bad things that happen. Two years ago, I stopped for a brief visit but didn’t see much as it was closing time and I wasn’t really that interested.
This time, we took two hours to view the museum and drive around the remains of the camp. The 20 minute video was very well done, narrated in the words of actual internees (prisoners.) I saw the whole event, not so much as a shameful period of American history but, as a teachable moment. I felt a detached curiosity as I viewed the exhibits. Afterwards, we drove around the camp and came across the old cemetery. Most of the remains were moved to cemeteries closer to home when the camp closed. Only five graves remain. As I walked among remaining graves, the one below caught my eye.
In a moment, my detachment disappeared and I was overcome with sadness as I thought about Baby Jerry Ogata, an American citizen, born and dying in a concentration camp run by his fellow countrymen, buried in a grave and left behind by his family. I wish I knew more about Baby Jerry Ogata.
More Photos to Come
I caught a bug during this trip and have been laid up for nearly a month. I still have about 450 frames to cull and process. On top of everything else, setting up my new laptop has proven to be a challenge. At this point, I’d like to severely beat the guy who came up with Windows 8 with my tripod.
All these photos were made with either a Canon 7D or Canon 5D MkII with either the 17-40/4L or 24-105/4L and processed in Adobe Lightroom 4. HDR photos were processed in Photomatix Photo Essentials. I also used Topaz Labs Adjust 5 on some.
As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.