Friday morning turned into a chore morning for us. So it was into town for laundry, shopping and the like. I had some larger pictures I needed to email off, so while Mary toiled away in the laundromat, I drove over to the Bishop Visitor Center to use there nice fast WiFi. We only have 2 gigs of bandwidth for the month and large uploads sap it fast. When I got back to Mary, she was NOT a happy camper. Expensive dryers that didn’t work, a hot interior and uncomfortable seating made for a bad mix. I suggested lunch at Schat’s Deli and Bakery. Mary’s mood brightened quickly. We had a very nice lunch and even picked up some tasty looking goodies for dinner dessert.
It was still pretty early, so we decided on another aspen drive – this time up Lower Rock Creek Canyon. Mary wanted to drive a few of the roads near 395 before we got there. The visitor center guy said the cottonwood and poplar were looking good in that area, but they were not really in accessible areas, so we moved on to Rock Creek. We faired much better there. We really only stopped in one spot, but the trail ran right along the creek and there were plenty of nice vantage points to set up for creek/aspen photos. Just us and a few fishermen.
By now it was nearly 4:00 PM and I wanted to get back to a spot near our camp to photograph the sunset. It is located just off Highway 6 on Five Bridges Road right at the first bend. There are cottonwood trees in a desert field, backed by the massive Sierra’s. As sundown nears, which is early because of the mountains, the light streams across the mountains and through the trees, lighting them uo. The mountains gradually go into shadow and provides a really nice dark background. I kept driving by this spot thinking I had to photograph when the light was just right, but we kept getting back too late. This day we got there just slightly late, so it was a rushed set-up. I got something like I hoped for. Mary actually did much better in the short time we had. Maybe tomorrow I can get there just a little earlier.
Saturday, October 19
Today we got up a little earlier in order to get out and hiking. For our final hike in the Bishop area, we wanted to do the Little Lakes Trail up at the end of Rock Creek Road. This is the highest point in the Sierra’s where it’s possible to drive to a trail head. At 10,200 feet, it promised to be a true High Sierra experience and finally got us up over 10,000 feet consistently. I expected it to be a pretty busy trail – it was a beautiful Saturday morning and a very popular hike. I though it might be cold up that high, but this day was shirt sleeve weather. There were still patches of snow on the ground, but very little. It is a pretty easy hike overall. There is some up and down which always gets us out of breath, but in total there is only about an 800 foot elevation gain – and that’s if you go all the way to Gem Lake. We weren’t so sure we would.
The thing that always surprises me on many of our hikes is how different what I expect to see and photograph, compares with what is actually there. On this hike I thought it would be typical high mountain scenery. I knew it would be nice, but wasn’t particularly expectant of anything unusual. What I didn’t really expect was the frozen portions of the creek and lakes. I should have of course. We are at 10,000 plus feet and the nights are constantly getting below freezing this high.So while we did photograph the lakes and surrounds, we really went to town on the icy rimmed creek flowing out of Heart Lake. We hopscotched one another other repeatably and actually lost track of each other – something that happens from time to time when we are both really into it. Because of this, we didn’t get real far. We hiked on as far at Long Lake, then decided to turn back.
I really wanted one last crack at photographing the cottonwoods near camp again. This time when we got back, Mary decided to stay behind, so I took off for the spot on my own. It was worth going again. I had time to scope out some other compositions and I came back with some nice images.
We are pulling up stakes on Sunday and headed for another boondocks site at Hot Creek near the Mammoth Lakes area. Not sure how long we will linger here, but we have only about a week left before heading back to San Francisco. A few days here at least – maybe more.