I grew up in California, going to Yosemite at least once a year since I was born. I live in Truckee, explored the Tahoe region, Downieville, the Sierra Valley, the Eastern Sierra from Bridgeport to Lonepine, and lots of places in between.
So how I’ve missed Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks up until now is a bit of a mystery.
Lynn had some site visits for work with the U.S. Forest Service and the Sequoia Riverlands Trust, so I decided to tag along with plans to take a quick side trip into the Southern Sierra Parks.
Sequoia Riverlands Trust was a great stop in and of itself, where we visited a green and blooming oak preserve in the foothills. Driving through a verdant Yokohl Valley to Three Rivers was worth the trip on its own. But then we started to climb, switchbacking up into the park, getting views of granitic outcroppings like the one above.
While I’d never been to these parks, it wasn’t like I’d never seen a sequoia tree – they’re in Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra. But there’s a reason a National Park is built around these ones. Lynn patiently put up with my sprinting bursts around tourists and quiet staring into the distant tree tops.
I know there are good ways to take pictures of giant trees, but I wasn’t equiped. It’s tough to express through pixels or words the impact of standing in front of a giant sequoia.
Most trees were fenced off, protecting their shallow root system, but I found myself staring at the intricate bark patterns almost as much as the trees’ immensity.
It was a short afternoon trip, hemmed in by scheduling and not-yet melted out snow higher, but I definitely look forward to coming this way again soon.
A few weeks ago, Lynn had to go to Bishop for work, and we decided to make a weekend out of it. Snow had recently fallen, always a welcome addition to the Eastern Sierra, and we hadn’t been in months.
As we went up Conway Summit, north of Mono Lake, a big bird of prey took off in parallel to the highway, and I pulled over just as it landed in a juniper. We debated golden eagle vs immature bald eagle (tough lot, being immature and bald) – and landed on the latter.
Mono Lake with a long lens.
We spent Sunday in the Happy Boulders, and while there were more cars than we’d ever seen there, all the people were clustered around two or three main boulders. This gal skated up this route after to ripped shirtless dudes were shut down by it. At the top, she asked where the down climb was – so it wasn’t evidently a well-practiced route for her.
Lynn messes around on a fun boulder in the Buttermilks in her new approach shoes.
Me goofing around on an overhanging problem on one of the big boulders.
While Lynn worked, I drove around with the camera, and made it up Highway 168 to snowline – around 7,500 or 8,000 feet.
The view on the drive back north, from near Crowley Lake.
While we were in town, we went to the Craggin Classic, saw a
UFO missile launch, spent time at the fantastic Mountain Rambler Brewery and hung out with some of Lynn’s friends. Bishop is one of my favorites, and getting down their in cool fall weather reminded me why, once again.
This weekend Lynn completed her PADI Open Water Certification! Thanks to Patrick, I had a dive buddy so I could tag along on the Sierra Diving Center certification dives without interfering with the class.
The instructors working with Lynn and her dive buddy, Tessa.
My dive buddy, Patrick, goofing around.
Me, Lynn and Tessa – photo by Patrick.
This is why I should bring my DSLR with me everywhere. Period. One of the most amazing sunsets (with lightning in it for crying out loud!) I’ve ever seen here in Truckee – which is saying something – and all I have is my iPhone. Lynn and I were out climbing at Green Phantom, but didn’t really get a lot of climbing done, because this happened:
Here’s a quick video I shot and edited for the Truckee Tahoe Airport. The goal was, along with a print campaign, to remind pilots the reason they (or their passengers) fly to Truckee is why anybody comes to Truckee – the mountain character – in hopes that they’ll fly in a way to maintain the piece and quiet we all value.
I’ve shot at Martis Creek Reservoir before, getting pictures of ospreys and bald eagles fishing, pelicans hanging out, arctic terns passing through, and numerous other critters so I knew it would be a great place to illustrate the point. When the clouds were being all beautiful one day I ran out at lunch to grab a few shots and some background noise.