Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, 9-26 to 10-6, 2017 – #6

Day #6

The Hacienda La Carriona  was something! And … our trip was now more than half-over!

Hacienda La Carriona

We left after breakfast for the climb to the paramo and Volcan Antisana, getting a view of Volcan Cotopaxi on the way. Our route brought us to the snout of a lava flow that had, presumably, originated on Antisana, where we saw that the lava was being “mined” for construction materials. The road followed along the edge of the flow for a short distance, before climbing to higher altitude, and bringing us to Tambo Condor. This lodge is situated close to first entry station and not far below the tree line. It sits across a valley from a group of cliffs that host condor nests, and we soon spotted a soaring condor.

Condor, at about a mile away

We had some coffee and spent some time observing the feeders.

Black-tailed Trainbearer

Shining Sunbeam

Shining Sunbeam

Shining Sunbeams

Giant Hummingbird

High-altitude plant

The lava flow had dammed the stream in the valley below, creating this lake

Fuchsia

We left Tambo Condor to continue the drive uphill to the paramo. Since the road would end in the vicinity of Volcan Antisana, we would backtrack and return here for lunch.

Creek

Carunculated Caracara. The word “carunculated” is defined as “a fleshy outgrowth on the heads of certain birds”

Fence post

On the paramo, with Volcan Sincholagua (16, 073′)) to the south.

Stout-billed Cinclodes, at the spot seen in the above photo

Volcan Sincholagua

The base of Volcan Antisana (18,713′)

Condor

Carunculated Caracara

Yellow flower

Andean Gull

We also saw, at this location, the Black-faced or Andean Ibis, but I failed to get any images that were sufficiently in-focus. The elevation here was at or over 14,000′.

Distant telephoto view of glaciers and moraines on Volcan Antisana

I would have loved to fish this very pretty creek

I still would have loved to fish this very pretty creek

At the upper entry station

Creek at the second upper entry station

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, at the upper entry station

The road ended at the boat launch on the Laguna de Mica (a reservoir), which contains, as I later learned, some good-sized rainbow trout. The reservoir sits about 5 miles away from Volcan Antisana.

Andean Teal

Slate-colored Coots

Glaciated face and summit cornice on Volcan Antisana

After this thrilling visit to the paramo and, especially, Volcan Antisana, we returned to Tambo Condor and lunch.

Tambo Condor

The cliffs opposite Tambo Condor, with a soaring condor exactly centered in the photo

Giant Humminbird

Hooded Siskin

Appetizer served with lunch

After lunch, we departed Tambo Condor downhill, and turned north, to pick up the highway to Papallacta Pass (13,000+ elevation). At the pass, Moses turned off the highway, and began some 4-wheel bus driving up a road that climbed the ridge to the north. We followed this road to an assembly of transmitters at about 14,500′ elevation, that, though looking very ramshackle, were guarded by two uniformed men. These men and their families lived up there, Edwin told us. The road and area are contained in the Cayambe-Coca National Park.

View to the south

The road, and lakes, view to the south

View of Papallacta Pass. View to the south.

There were some nice views to be had, and interesting looking dwarf flowers and cushion plants to the sides of the installations.

View to the east

View to the east

Crumbly-looking ridge, to the west

View to the south and west

Cushion plant

Cushion plant

Cushion plant

Cushion plant detail

Cushion plant detail

Lake and reservoir beyond, view to the east

Lake and road

Cushion plant

Edwin and Karen toiled further up the ridge (to 14, 600′ elevation) in search of the Rufous-bellied Seed-Snipe, which they eventually found and Karen photographed. Here are her two photos:

We started back down and then Edwin heard an Ecuadorian Hillstar.

Ecuadorian Hillstar

Ecuadorian Hillstar

This Sedge Wren was singing up a storm

We returned from Volcan Antisana to an intersection near H. La Carriona and then intersected the route to and over Papallacta Pass

We returned to the pass, and headed downhill into the cloud forest on the eastern side of the Andes. Our destination was Cabañas San Isidro, where we would spend two days and three nights.

Tropical Kingbird on the porch of Cabañas San Isidro

 

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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, 9-26 to 10-6, 2017 – #5

Day #5

On our last day of birding out of Sachatamia Lodge, our first destination was a very early morning visit to the Cock of the Rock lek, at the extraordinary Refugio Paz de las Aves, created by Angel Paz and his family. We met Angel beside the road, and were led a short ways downhill to the blind. And there they were – these crazy-looking birds!

We then continued to the Refuge’s main site, from where we followed a path downhill to the Antpitta “pit”. This was one of a number of feeding sites where the Paz family had succeeded in training Antpittas to respond to a whistled signal, for a reward of worms. Particular birds had been named, e.g. Maria, Susanita, Shakira.

One of Angel’s brothers tosses worms into the cleared area

The first bird to show was the Great Antpitta.

Giant Antpitta

Great Antpitta, with worm

Why are these birds called Antpittas? Do they eat ants? Edwin said no, they don’t. Rather, they follow ant swarms to catch the critters that are flushed-out by the ants. The next bird to appear was the Moustached Antpitta.

Moustached Antpitta

Other sites were close by, producing 5 species of Antpittas in all.

Ocher-breasted Antpitta

Yellow-breasted Antpitta

The Chestnut-crowned Antpitta was my favorite.

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

How can you top the Cocks of the Rock,  followed by the Antpittas? This is how:

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet pair

The Toucanets were followed by the Toucan Barbets.

Toucan Barbet pair

Toucan Barbet pair

Toucan Barbet

The price of admission to Paz de las Aves (paid by Road Scholar) included a breakfast of local foods served to us at tables placed close to the banana feeding station. Guess what that included? That’s right – coffee! Boy, were we getting spoiled.

As was the case at the Mirador Rio Blanco, Edwin had to tear us away from this extraordinary place, but not before we bought caps and/or painted Antpitta carvings and/or illustrated buffs and/or illustrated cups.

We returned to Sachatamia, had lunch, packed our bags, and spent some final minutes at the feeders.

Blue-winged Mountain Tanager

Blue-winged Mountain Tanager

Booted Rackettail

Booted Rackettail

??

Purple-bibbed Whitetip

Violet-tailed Sylph

Violet-tailed Sylph

Violet-tailed Sylph

We left Sachatamia Lodge (thanks!), and made one more stop before driving east and out of the Mindo cloud forest. That was at the Alambi Bird Garden, which we had passed when we first arrived into the Mindo area. It’s located alongside the Rio Alambi at Tandayapa, at the junction of the Ecoroute and the main highway.

Purple-throated Woodstar (juv) ?

Sparkling Violetear

Tawny-bellied Hermit

White-necked Jacobin

White-necked Jacobin

White-winged Brushfinch

White-capped Dipper

Bananaquit

Brown Violetear

Buff-throated Saltator

Another day of spectacular birds!

Here is a video of the feeders at Alambi.

We crossed the Equator (“Mitad del Mundo”) on the return to the Quito area, at the town of Calacali. Cloud-shrouded and at an elevation of 9940′, it was chilly there. We continued to the south of Quito, to the Hacienda La Carriona, in the Chillos Valley, where we would spend the night. Suffice it to say, it was quite a place. We would leave from there the next morning for the paramo (high-altitude tundra) and Volcan Antisana.

H. La Carriona is seen at the bottom of the map, south and east of Quito

Hacienda La Carriona

Volcan Antisana

 

 

 

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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, 9-26 to 10-6, 2017 – #4

Day #4 

We left Sachatamia in the dark, for an hour’s drive downhill to the west. The destination was the Rio Silanche, at an elevation of around 1100′ (Sachatamia Lodge is situated at an elevation of 5577′, and Mindo at 4100′ elevation). We arrived shortly after dawn, and the first bird I was able to photograph was the yellow-tailed oriole, which was only about 50 yards away.

Yellow-tailed Oriole

Green Thorntail Hummingbird

Lineated Woodpecker

Roadside Hawk

The group

Breadfruit, or related

Bromeliad

Hibiscus

Palm

We discontinued our walk when we ran into an oil palm plantation. Moses had followed us in the bus, which was very convenient. We then returned to the main highway, and headed back east. After a while, we took a left, to visit Milpe.

Band-backed Wren?

Choco Toucan

Choco Toucan

Mindo Cloud Forest (MCF) Foundation Sign

From Milpe, we drove to the town of San Miguel de los Bancos (benches), to visit another fabulous spot, the Mirador Rio Blanco (“Mirador” means view point). But first we made a stop at the soccer field on the edge of town, and I got a nice “capture” (as bird photographers say) of the Pacific Hornero.

Pacific Hornero

The Mirador Rio Blanco has a big deck overlooking the valley of the Rio Blanco, with lots of feeders spread around, and lots of birds.

On the deck, with Karen, Ginger and Kathy

Telephoto view of the Rio Blanco, which was well below us

Ecuadorian Thrush

Flame(Lemon)-rumpedTabager

Flame(Lemon)-rumpedTanager female

GoldenTanager

GoldenTanager

Green-crowned Brilliant female

Green Thorntail

??

Orange-bellied Euphonia

Palm Tanager

We had lunch there, and could photograph birds on the banana feeders through the spotless large windows that lined one side of the room, while enjoying the food and drink. Lee and I had decided that we really liked to watch birds while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Slate-throated Red(White)start, in the dining room

Rufous-throated Tanager

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Black-winged Saltator

Bromeliad?

Silver-throated Tanager

White-necked Jacobin female

Orchid

We had to tear ourselves away from the Mirador Rio Blanco, because we had more bird watching to do. We drove back to Sachatamia, and then past it, for about a quarter-mile further, to the San Tadeo Birding Garden. There, we could, again, sip a cup of coffee while watching yet a new bunch of birds, and I clicked away furiously while the light faded.

Black-capped Tanager

Flame-faced Tanager

Golden-naped Tanager

Golden-naped Tanager

Heliconia

Masked Water-Tyrant

The water feature at the otherwise tiny garden was especially attractive to the birds, including the Masked Water-Tyrant seen above. And then the Barbets showed up!

Red-headed Barbet

Toucan Barbet

along with the Violet-tailed Sylph.

Violet-tailed Sylph

What a day! What a collection of absolutely beautiful birds! Our count for the day was 50 new species, with a total of 69 species seen, and 26 photos of new species are included in this post.

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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, 9-26 to 10-6, 2017 – #3

Day #3 

We had arrived at Sachatamia Lodge the evening before, to be greeted by a bunch of beautiful new birds at the plentiful feeding stations and hummingbird feeders. Nice place!

Sachatamia Lodge

We were up early (the beginning of what I came to call “birding boot camp”) to look at the mixed flock of birds in the trees surrounding the parking lot. After breakfast we took a hike through the magnificant forest that surrounds the lodge.

Flame (Lemon)-rumped Tanager female

Rusty-Margined Flycatcher

??

Smokey Peewee

Smokey Peewee

Beryl-spangled Tanager

LeafSachatamiaDSCN9792

Philodendron

FernSachatamiaBZ DSCN9800

Palm

??

Blue-grey Tanager

In the afternoon, we drove to the pretty village of Mindo, which is located in a valley to the side and downhill of the main highway and Sachatamia Lodge. There, we visited the Chocolate Factory (a worthwhile stop) and checked out the two local rivers:

Rio Mindo

MindoTubingDSCN9837

Local recreation

Rio Nambillo and bougainvilla

Rio Nambillo

Rio Nambillo

Dramatic scenery!

Torrent Tyrannulet, Rio Nambillo

Torrent Tyrannulet, Rio Nambillo

Afterwards, we drove to a tilapia rearing operation, located in the lower valley of the Rio Alambi. There we saw two species of kingfisher. We then visited the nearby village of Santa Marianita.

Black Phoebe

Two Black vultures hang out on a rock alongside the Rio Alambi, adjacent to the tilapia ponds

Grass-greenTanager??

Rio Alambi

Rio Alambi

Kathy and the sign at the Rio Alambi bridge. “Vado” means “ford” in Spanish.

Church in Santa Marianita

Soccer field, Santa Marianita

Granite boulder, Santa Marianita

Santa Marianita

Rooster, Santa Marianita

Torrent Tyrannulet on a granite boulder, Rio Alambi

We then returned to Sachatamia for dinner, the day’s bird count and sleep. Our new routine had become established – eat, sleep, bird, repeat.

Note: Links to prior and successive posts (if any) are found at both the top and bottom of each post.

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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, 9-26 to 10-6, 2017 – #2

Day #2

We drove west and uphill thru villages and farms as we exited the sprawl of Quito. After topping a final ridge, we soon arrived at Yanacocha Reserve, situated at 10,500′ altitude.

On the approach to Yanacocha Reserve

In the mist, the Yanacocha Reserve sign

At the Reserve headquarters we found feeding stations and hummingbird feeders. One station had a resident Antpitta:

Tawny Antpitta

Tawny Antpitta

Also at that feeding station we saw Grey-browed and Yellow-breasted Brushfinches and other birds:

Grey-browed Brushfinch

Grey-browed Brushfinch

Yellow-breasted Brushfinch in a Polylepis tree

Yellow-breasted Brushfinch

A Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager takes his turn at the banana

Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager

At and around the hummingbird feeders:

Buff-winged Starfrontlet

Buff-winged Starfrontlet

Golden-breasted Puffleg

Golden-breasted Puffleg

Great Sapphirewing

Great Sapphirewing

Sapphire-vented Puffleg

Shining Sunbeam

Shining Sunbeam

Glossy Flowerpiercer

Glossy Flowerpiercer

Masked Flowerpiercer

Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant??

After spending considerable time around the feeders, we left on a hike along the Trocha Inca (Inca Trail). Cloud forests are dark, making it difficult to capture satisfactory images. More than birds, I photographed the very interesting vegetation, views of the fog-shrouded hillsides and other details:

Don’t throw trash

Indian paintbrush?

Lupine

The Poor Man’s Umbrella has leaves 4-5 feet wide

Andean Guan

At a considerable distance, a Black-chested Buzzard Eagle

HoodedMountainTanagerDSCN9714

Hooded Mountain Tanager

Datura family

Poor Man’s Umbrella developing leaf

A side trail

We hiked to the Jardin de Colibris and back along the Trocha Inca. “Colibri” is the Spanish word for hummingbird, while “Quinde” is the Quechua word. “Sendero” is the word for path.

Poor Man’s Umbrella stalks  and fibers

Poor Man’s Umbrella flower

Fuchsia

We passed the following two signs along the trail:

Bird sign

Bird sign

This sign was found at one of the hummingbird feeding stations

Orchid

Orchid

Poor Man’s Umbrella

A steep and heavily forested ravine

On the return

Lunch at the small restaurant consisted of tasty local foods. Every meal we were served in Ecuador (and here) included a delicious soup.

After lunch, we descended the canyon of the Rio Alambi, completing the Mindo Ecoroute. Our destination for this and two additional nights was Sachatamia Lodge.

When you meet an oncoming vehicle, one or both vehicles back up until a widening of the road is found

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle.

After taking off, this Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle was pestered by a kestral.

Turquoise Jay. Edwin’s green laser beam is seen illuminating leaves to the right of the bird.

Cecropia platensis, which grows only at a particular elevation

Cecropia platensis. The leaves of this tree are highly reflective, and look white at a distance.

We stopped so that I could photograph the tree seen above, and it was here or close by that we heard activity at a Cock of the Rock lek, below and across the canyon. What is a “lek”? A lek is a location where males of a species gather to perform for one or more females, upon which basis the females choose which male to copulate with, reminiscent of  intercollegiate athletics. Most close at hand observations of this extraordinary-looking bird are made at leks (as would be the case for us on Day #5). This particular lek was known to  Edwin, who predicted that eventually the birds would leave the lek and begin to fly around the area. Sure enough, we were soon treated to the sight of these sizable bright-red birds flying back and forth across the canyon, and close to where we had stopped.

The cloud forest

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

Quito to Sachatamia Lodge by way of the Mindo Ecoroute

Link to post #1:

http://wp.me/p1YUUY-3vn

 

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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, 9-26 to 10-6, 2017 – #1

Preface

Kathy and I enjoy watching birds, and we feed them year-round. Along with bird watching, I’ve become addicted to bird photography, which, also, I pursue year-round. In view of this strong attraction to birds, one might consider us to be “birders”. But Kathy and I have never thought of ourselves as such. Birders are another thing again. Those who categorize themselves as birders take the business of bird watching very seriously, which includes the keeping of a life list, travel for the purpose 0f adding new birds (“lifers”) to their lists, Christmas Bird Counts, banding birds, donating to bird conservation organizations and a few do a “Big Year”, as depicted in the movie “The Big Year” (a quest to see as many birds as possible in a year’s time). Kathy and I, on the other hand, have remained considerably more casual about our bird watching. How, then, did it come about that we plunked down $3000 each to join a Road Scholar birding trip to Ecuador?

Our only other trip to South America took place in 2015, when we signed up with a DYI expedition to run the Rio Marañon, in Peru. That almost 400 mile trip ended in the north of Peru, at a city (Bagua) that is a way point on the highly-regarded Northern Peru Birding Route. We could not overlook this opportunity, and arranged beforehand to visit some of the venues along the eastern portion of that route – the Rio Utcubamba drainage, Moyobamba and Tarapoto. And, yes, we did get to see and photograph what is undoubtedly the most famous bird of the route – the Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbird – along with many other hummingbirds, flycatchers, tanagers, oropendolas etc. etc. This exceptional birdwatching experience left us wanting more, and that, as my subsequent research indicated, could be Ecuador.

Our Road Scholar trip met in the Ecuadorian capitol of Quito, where we were housed for two nights at the Sheraton. The Sheraton is a first-class accommodation (as was every other accommodation in our itinerary). There, the most lavish breakfast buffet I’ve ever sampled included ceviche and chocolate croissants, which, for me, formed the basis of the two breakfasts we enjoyed there. Yum!

Day #1, AM

Our first outing was a birding visit to a municipal park – Guapulo Park.

Our guide was Edwin Perez, who made the trip for us. I cannot say enough about his many talents, dedication, consideration of our needs and good humor. Here, he’s pointing out a bird to Ginger. His spotting scope can be seen on his shoulder. Karen and Charles look from behind.

Eared dove

Golden-bellied grosbeak

Great thrush

A sign in the park. We also saw the Black-tailed Trainbearer (item #4 on the sign), along with many other birds that I did not succeed in photographing.

Our group of 8 consisted of ourselves and: Ginger and Charles Loeffler, from Junction, TX; Michael Duffy, of Arlington, VA, who accompanied his friend, Lee Yoder, of Penny Farms, FL; Karen Mickel, of Springfield, OH and Jim Emenegger, of Lakeport, CA. A word about Lee – he is 87 years old, a former Olympian and was in the top 100 in the country for birds seen last year! He is also a big kidder, and we enjoyed considerable banter together. The group immediately cohered, without a cross word ever being uttered. And, as might be guessed, it was an group of older people, with everyone but myself and Kathy retired.

I was the only one in the group that put bird photography ahead of “ticking off” (Lee’s term) new species of birds, although a number of the others carried compact superzoom cameras similar to my Coolpix P900. All the photos seen in this series of posts were taken with the P900, which zooms to 83X (2000mm equivalent!).

I had never before encountered a professional birding guide, and Edwin’s expertise blew me away. First of all, he was fluent in English. Next, he knew every bird that we encountered, and could recognize them by their songs and calls. He carried a spotting scope mounted on a tripod, and employed a green laser pointer to show us the birds’ locations in the usually dense foliage. He also carried a compact speaker system for the purpose of playing bird call recordings. Once he had heard a particular bird, he used the device in the hope of  bringing that bird to us. Beyond that, he had a remarkable ability to spot birds everywhere. Then there was the ritual of our daily bird count. Road Scholar had created a booklet entitled “Ecuador Birding Checklist”, which included every one of the 1603 birds known to exist in Ecuador, with a column for each day. We would, every evening, sit down together with our checklists open, ready to receive the day’s sightings from Edwin. Edwin kept no notes of those sightings. Rather, he would scan the list and recall from memory the birds seen. As an example, he recalled the  39 new species and 49 species total seen on Day #9. All of this may be business as usual for a guided birding trip, but it was new for Kathy and me.

Finally, I should mention our driver Moses (Moises) – a very pleasant man with a smile  always on his face. He was helpful in every way, in spite of the fact that he did not speak English.

Day #1, PM

We did the “cultural tour” in the afternoon. Included were 3 churches – the Basilica, San Francisco and La Colonia. We did not enter the first, were allowed to photograph the interior of the second and entered, but did not photograph, the last.

The Basilica is adorned with, amongst many other fanciful embellishments, sculptures of Ecuadorian wildlife.

Basilca

Basilica

Basilica

Basilica

Penguin

Tortoises

Iguanas

Mythical beasts

Dolphins

Anteaters

Monkeys

Pumas

Crocodiles

Winged beast

45 meter tall statue of the Virgen of Quito, seen on a hilltop over a mile away

Ayahuasca

Just below the Basilica is this statue of former President Garcia Moreno

Nearby building

San Francisco:

Pigeons, in front of the churh

More pigeons

Front view

Area behind the altar

Saints and a cherub

SanFranciscoDSCN9441

On the left, a Franciscan monk

The nearby Cathedral

La Colonia:

Sculpted columns

The street in front, looking towards the Plaza Grande

Across the street

We then walked to the end of the block, to the Plaza Grande.

Front steps of the Cathedral

Granite sphere

Trees in bloom

Fountain

The flag of Ecuador flies over the Presidential Palace

A demonstration is held opposite the Presidential Palace

The demonstration

The demonstration seen here concerns the current rash of disappearances of persons of all ages and both sexes. I asked Edwin who he and others believe is responsible for the disappearances, thinking he would say the government. But he said that the federal government was not thought to be directly responsible, but, rather, appeared not to be investigating the disappearances. He believed that people were being abducted and killed by criminal enterprises for the purpose of removing and selling their organs (i.e. kidneys and corneas) on the world market!

Lunch at the Plaza Grande Hotel. Behind Kathy is Jim, with Lee across the table

Our dessert came set atop a bowl containing water and dry ice dropped in shortly before, producing the carbon dioxide fog seen here. Karen was served by a waiter dressed in the robes of a “cucurucho” – a Catholic Church functionary charged with punishing people who fall asleep during church services.

Our one day and two nights in Quito were intended to provide some acclimatization to high altitude. Quito is located in a central Andean valley at 9500′ altitude. Early tomorrow morning we would drive west out of Quito, to follow the Mindo Ecoroute. After being replaced by a modern highway, this one lane dirt road is now a favorite of birders en route to the cloud forests that surround the town of Mindo. The first stop on the way would be at the Yanacocha Reserve, situated at 10,500′ altitude on the slopes of Volcano Pichincha. What kind of birds might we find there? How about an Antpitta?

Tawny Antpitta, Yanacocha Reserve

Quito to Sachatamia Lodge, by way of the Mindo Ecoroute. Quito is in lower right, and Sachatamia and Mindo on the left.

Here is the link to the second post of this series:

https://believesteve.org/2017/10/15/birding-in-the-e…-to-oct-6-2017-2/

and you can take a look at the series of posts on our Peru trip by searching the blog for “peru”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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California, September, 2017 – Part 2

Brewery in a re-purposed warehouse

We next visited the Bay Area, to see my grandson Quin Miller off to a year in Italy, and otherwise spend time with our two families – the Levys and Millers. In Berkeley, we went to The Rare Barrel. I’d never had “sour beer” before.

My son, Ethan Miller, pays for the beer

Display

Other Millers.

Jenny Miller – Ethan’s ex-wife and mother of my grandchildren

Grandson Quin

Granddaughter Shannon

My ex-wife. Karen Miller. Grandmother of Jenny and Ethan’s kids

AlbanyFlo1140

Ethan’s wife, Florence Landau, at their home in Albany

Sun-lit corner, Albany, CA

Kathy and I began our return to New Mexico by driving over Tioga Pass, in  Yosemite NP. Smoke somewhat obscured the views to the south and west.

The vast granite expanse of Clouds Rest Pk. is located at the upper end of Yosemite Valley, from Olmsted Point area

Half Dome

Granite slab, at Olmsted Point

Pika

We then drove south on Hwy 395, along the steep eastern slope of the Sierras.

From a pull-out on Hwy 395, on the descent to Bishop:  Looking west to Mt. Tom (left), with Four Gables and, in the distance, a ridge of unnamed peaks and pinnacles on the Sierra crest

Four Gables Mtn. (left), and a ridge of unnamed peaks and pinnacles on the Sierra crest

And, from the same pull-out on Hwy 395: looking southwest, to the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek and Mt. Thompson (left) and Mt. Powell

And yet more to the south: The South Fork of Bishop Creek, Bishop Pass and Mt. Goode (right)

We spent the night in the small town of Independence, which sits at the foot of Mt. Williamson. We stayed at the Winnedumah Hotel (and B&B).

Mt Williamson from the north, by evening light

Mts Williamson (left) and Tyndall, looking west

Winnedumah Hotel, with Kathy

Winnedumah Hotel, with Kathy

Wine glass, at dinner that night

Creek

The next stop was Lone Pine, and it’s fabulous view of Mt. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak.

Mt. Whitney (right), and Lone Pine Peak, with the granite boulders of the Alabama Hills in the middle distance

The Alabama Hills

Mt. Corcoran (left), Lone Pine Pk. and the Alabama Hills

Mt. Corcoran

Mt. Whitney (right) and Keeler Needle (next peak to the left of Mt. Whitney)

All photos, from close-ups to superzooms, were taken with a Coolpix P900 camera.

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