Road trip, Part 9 – The Eastern Sierras, Oct. 5-6/14

We rejoined Hwy 395 at  Mono Lake, and turned south. We again passed through Lee Vining and continued past the turn-offs for the June Lake loop and Mammoth Lakes. Then we descended into the Owens Valley, at Bishop. From there, we headed steeply back uphill into the mountains, to South Lake, on the South Fork of Bishop Creek. I had once ended a long hike at South Lake. The hike had started at North Lake (also outside of Bishop), went off-trail over the crest south of Paiute Pass (via the Wonder Lakes), joined the John Muir Trail (JMT), and went back over the crest at Bishop Pass. On that occasion, we had seen hikers on the JMT section of the hike, but only a quick-moving solo hiker elsewhere. On this occasion, the trail head parking lot for overnight hikers was jam-packed. It was the weekend again (although, as I had learned on a 2010 hike to Lake Ediza, the JMT is packed with hikers all summer long).

Bishop Pass sign

Bishop Pass sign

Close-up view of the Bishop Pass sign

John Muir quote on the Bishop Pass sign

South Lake was largely without water, either because of work on the dam or the drought. Close below the dam, a little meadow section of the creek contained 5 elbow-to-elbow fly fishermen, casting, no doubt, to very well-educated fish. Further downstream, we chose the 4 Jeffries CG, named for 4 large Jeffrey pines found there, for the night. Our campsite was right by the creek, in a cottonwood grove.

Our campsite by the creek, with a little side channel in the foreground

Our campsite by the creek, with a little side channel in the foreground

In the morning, we returned to Bishop, which was packed with visitors, and again headed south. We next stopped at the town of Big Pine, which gave us a great view of Mt. Sill, with a glacier at it’s foot. This is the Palisades section of the Sierra, which I had never visited!

View of the Palisades and Palisade Glacier, from downtown Big Pine

View of Mt. Sill and glacier, from downtown Big Pine

A few minutes south gave us a view of an interesting ridge. This ridge runs south from Split Mt., and is capped by black granodirite. Shortly after, we spotted the well-known Tule elk herd that resides in this part of the Owens Valley.

A black-capped ridge that runs south from Split Mountain, with a piece of Split Mountain seenon extreme right

A black-capped ridge that runs south from Split Mountain, with a piece of Split Mountain seen on extreme right

A herd of Tule elk, at a great distance, south of Big Pine

A herd of Tule elk (a male with his harem), at a great distance, south of Big Pine

Next, at the town of Independence, was Mts. Williamson and Tyndall.


Mt.Williamson (left) and Mt. Tyndall (right)

All this great mountain scenery, and the best was saved for last – Lone Pine Peak and Mt. Whitney, at Lone Pine, California. Mt. Whitney, at 14, 505′, is the highest peak in the Sierras.


Lone Pine Pk (left) and Mt. Whitney (center), from Hwy 395 in Lone Pine, CA

Digression for photographers. The wallpaper I’ve chosen for my I-Mac screen is Ansel Adam’s view of Lone Pine Pk and Mt.Whitney, from downtown Lone Pine. The dramatic composition and lighting of this famous photo includes, in the middle ground, the foothills that stand directly behind the town, in deep shade. I had looked at this photo for months before detecting something out of place. At the left end of the shaded foothills, I could just make out the letters “LP” (made of white-painted stones, standing, as is traditional, for the name of the town). These letters were so hard to detect in Adam’s photo because Adams had tried to remove them, by manually re-touching his 8X10 negative, using a fine-pointed brush and black ink.  To all intents and purposes, he succeeded in removing them. Below is my photo, taken from a spot identical to or very close to where he had set up his tripod, recapturing his composition of the foothills and mountains beyond … and the “LP”.

Adam's composition, with "LP" visible

Adam’s composition, with “LP” visible

But now, with the digital age of photography upon us, photographers find it ever so easy to remove unwanted elements in a photograph. It’s called “cloning out”. The Photoshop clone tool allows you to select pixels from a neighboring portion of the photo, and replace the offending item with these pixels, as seen below.

The "LP" is removed.

The “LP” is removed.

I’ll end my photographic coverage of the Sierras with my preferred shot of Mt. Whitney and a shot of Lone Pine Peak.

Mt. Whitney, from Lone Pine

Mt. Whitney, from Lone Pine

Lone Pine Pk.

Lone Pine Pk.

The Sierras descend abruptly south of Mt. Whitney. We continued south into the desert, turned left onto Rt. 58 and were soon in Barstow. All the rain that had fallen in the desert a month prior had brought new and vibrant color to the creosote bushes that carpet the desert basins along I-40, on the way to Kingman, AZ. We got our first motel room of the trip in Flagstaff, and returned home the next day. I hope that you have enjoyed these 9 blog posts.

About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: 2. Coyote Buttes: 3. Four Cornered, the Land: 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: 5. Rio Marañon: 6. Rio Grande:
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3 Responses to Road trip, Part 9 – The Eastern Sierras, Oct. 5-6/14

  1. Jackson says:

    Wish ‘d known, I would’ve driven over the hill to say hello! Drop me a line next time you’re in the Eastern Sierra, I’ll give you a tour of Deep Springs Valley!


  2. believesteve says:

    We didn’t have your phone number, but were thinking about you, knowing you lived somewhere around there. Next time!


  3. Steve, yes there is an East Fork and a West Fork of the Walker rivers. The confluence is near Yerington, NV, where they meet and head back south into Weber reservoir and then into Walker Lake. Glad you enjoyed the trip on the E-Dub, it’s our home water and we fish it year round ~ The Angler’s Edge


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