Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Eastern Sierra Meteors: August 2016

(Remember that you can click on the photos to see a slideshow, and then hit "escape" to get back to the text. Also, a note on the photo credits: as always, both Felice and I took these shots, and many of my shots resulted from her suggestions.  I do the photo editing using Lightroom; my goal is to reproduce just what we saw, as faithfully as possible.)

August 9:  The experts were predicting a terrific Perseid meteor shower, so off we went to our favorite boondocking spot at around 9000 feet, north of Tioga Pass.  We left home at around 10 AM and were setting up camp after 6 PM, which was a pretty quick trip for us.  When we arrived, we had to put on sweatshirts, which was a real treat!

August 10:  We took a short but very steep hike in the June Lake area to Yost Lake.  The lake itself was nothing special, but the views of the canyon and the surrounding mountains from the trail were excellent.  This is part of Carson Peak:

At one point, the trail crossed a cascade. Since it was a hot day, Felice decided that this was a great opportunity to soak her head in ice water:

August 11:  We tried to beat the heat by hiking to the pass above Virginia Lakes, with a trailhead at around 9800 feet.  There were still some thick snowbanks next to the creek:

The saddle, at around 11,000 feet, provided us with wonderful views of the Yosemite backcountry -- this is the mandatory boot shot:

There are a couple of small nameless glacial lakes at the saddle:

The lakes along the trail are startlingly blue:

Late that afternoon, we convened our traditional cocktail circle in the cool and breezy shade of the aspens near the trailer:

August 12:  We dressed warmly and went outside to watch the meteors from around 1 AM to 2:30 AM.  It was a pretty good show, although the atmosphere was a little bit hazy from all of the forest fires in coastal California.  I tried (without success) to capture a meteor on film; the Milky Way was my consolation prize:

The morning after the meteor shower, we drove up Tioga Pass into the area adjacent to Yosemite and took the Mine Creek/Bennettville trail, with the trailhead elevation of over 9500 feet.  The entire area had been heavily glaciated; there were patches of multicolored and deformed metamorphic rock that had been sheared off.  On the upper right side of the shot, you can see the contact zone between the gnarly metamorphic rock and the overlying igneous layer, all of which had been tilted up and then bulldozed flat by the glacier:

Although the summer had been dry and hot, we were happy to find that as we climbed up above the 10,500 foot level, the flowers were still blooming and the fields were still green.  Here, Felice was wetting her rainbow bandana in a snowmelt stream – note the patch of flowers behind her:

 This is a close-up of that wildflower grouping:

At the top of the Mine Creek drainage, above Spuller Lake, we could see over the ridge and into the Lee Vining Creek area to the north.  I'm pretty sure that's Mt. Conness looming above our heads, with Green Treble and Maul Lakes on our right:

August 13:  We decided to break the trip home into two days -- so after packing up, we headed south to the Rock Creek area, another high and cool trailhead (at over 10,200 feet).  The trail was crowded (for good reason), and we had to park a half-mile away; but it was worth it.  All the way up the valley, we could see the high jagged peaks:

There was still plenty of water in the noisy creek:

In about two hours, we made it up to Chickenfoot Lake.  There was a lush meadow at the south end of the lake that we had never seen before.  It was magnificent – there is no other word. Cool, breezy, and sunny, with panoramic views of the surrounding 12,000 foot mountains.  We set up the tripod, with the radio remote camera trigger, and had some fun:

         After leaving Rock Creek, we headed into Bishop to get a grease cap for one of the hubs on the trailer  -- it had fallen off (probably while we were on a rough dirt road).  I knew that this was not a good thing – the hubs need protection from dust and dirt, and they need grease.  We called an auto parts store, and they had a product (the "Bearing Buddy") that would solve the problem with the hub.  We were able to install it in the parking lot – better yet, I am finally the owner of a bona fide grease gun, a long-held dream:

That night, we stayed at an RV park in Lone Pine and drove home the next day.