Rio Grande Winter, #2, 2019/20

I published “Eagles Everywhere!” on 12/21/19. It documented the arrival of the wintering bald eagles along the Rio Grande: https://believesteve.org/2019/12/21/eagles-everywhere/ Since that time, I’ve made many visits to the stretches of river that the eagles frequent, which is close to our home in Embudo, and the eagles also come and go along our home stretch of the river. Here are photos of bald eagles that I’ve taken since that date.

Bald eagles

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Ducks and Canada geese

The northern ducks have yet to show up in the numbers and variety seen in years past, and those now here are still getting accustomed to cars passing on the road. Nowadays, they mostly take off as I bring my car to a halt on a roadside pull-out. They will become more approachable (and easier to photograph) in time.

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Female goldeneye

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Canada geese

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Female mergansers

Rio Grande Gorge

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Pueblo Peak and rim of the Rio Grande Gorge (extreme telephoto)

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Orilla Verde stretch of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

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Willows, Orilla Verde stretch of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Gorge of Taos Creek

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Snow on boulder

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Frozen foam

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Taos Creek

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same as above

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Channel fills and toreva block in the making

This portion of the basalt cliff seen across Taos Creek has three features of geologic interest. #1: Below the cliff seen at the very top of the photo is a brownish layer. It is a channel fill. A channel fill is sediment that collected in a river channel that ran across the top of a lava flow, which sediment was preserved when another lava flow covered it. #2: Another channel fill is seen at the base of the cliff. #3: Seen in the center of the photo is a block of basalt which has slid away from the cliff. The soft sedimentary materials in the channel flows found both above and below the basalt layer that the block derives from are no doubt the reason why the block has detached itself. While the block is seen to be leaning against the cliff, it will eventually slide down the slope below. When it does so, it will be called a toreva block, which is defined as a block that lies tilted on a slope.

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Kathy

Embudo

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Barranco Blanco (left) and Cerro La Junta (right)

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same as above

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Shore ice

 

 

 

Posted in Birding, Nature, New Mexico | Leave a comment

Yosemite National Park – The High Sierras

The northern boundary of Yosemite National Park follows a ridge that runs east/west, and starts, on the west, with Tower Peak, and then continues eastward with Ehrnbeck Peak, Crown Point, Slide Mountain, the Sawtooth Ridge and Matterhorn Peak. Tower Peak can be seen, far to the south, from the Sonora Pass highway (Hwy 108).

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An extreme telephoto shot of Tower Peak from Hwy 180, view to the south.

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Aerial shot (Southwest Airlines) of Slide Mtn, Tower Pk. and the Sawtooth Ridge, view to the north

The Sawtooth Ridge, Matterhorn Peak and others to the west, seen from Bridgeport, CA.

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The Sawtooth Ridge and Matterhorn Peak are seen left of center. Matterhorn Peak is at the left extremity of Sawtooth Ridge.

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From L. to R.: Matterhorn Peak and Sawtooth Ridge

One can get a much closer look at these peaks from Twin Lakes, which is located at the foot of the ridge

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Sawtooth Ridge

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same as above

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same as above

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Skiing into Matterhorn Pk. (left)

California Outward Bound School – 1971

During the summer of 1971, I worked for the California Outward Bound School. We were headquartered at a mothballed Marine mountain warfare base, at Pickel Meadow, on the Sonora Pass highway. The base has since been reopened.

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Pickel Meadow Marine Training Center

From Hwy 108, we followed the West Walker River upstream to the base of Tower Peak.

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Ehrnbeck Peak

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same as above

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On the slopes of Tower Peak

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Tower Peak

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same as above

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same as above

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Climbing a snow gully on Tower Peak

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same as above

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Summit ridge of Tower Peak

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Clouds

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Sunset

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Cascades

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Waterfall and snow bank

From Tower Peak, we moved eastward.

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Peeler Lake and Buckeye Ridge (?)

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In the vicinity of Crown Pt.

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same as above

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Crown Point

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On the Sawtooth Ridge, with the Bridgeport Valley and Reservoir in the distance

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Sawtooth Ridge

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same as above

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same as above

 

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same as above

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same as above

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Sawtooth Ridge, glissading

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Sawtooth Ridge

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Lake and snowbank

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Godbeams

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Matterhorn Peak, view to the north

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Matterhorn area

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Iced-over lake

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Clouds

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South of Matterhorn Peak was Whorl Mountain

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Ice axes, on Whorl Mountain

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Glissading, Whorl Mountain

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From Whorl Mountain, we headed down Matterhorn Canyon, to the south

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Matterhorn Canyon

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same as above

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same as above

From the mouth of Matterhorn Canyon, we headed east to the Mc Cabe Lakes and Mount Conness.

 

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Camping at McCabe Lakes

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On the ridge between North Peak and Mount Conness (North Ridge), with the Conness Glacier below

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North Peak (Southwest Airlines flight), view to the south. Mt Conness is just out of the photo, at top.

 

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same as above

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Conness Lake

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On the North Ridge of Mt. Conness

We next traveled south and east, to intersect the Tioga Road, near Tioga Pass. There, we picked up a resupply and continued south via Parker Pass Creek, from which we climbed onto the Kuna Crest at its northern end.

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Indian paintbrush in Parker Pass Creek

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Traversing the Kuna Crest. Mt. Lyell and Lyell Glacier are seen in center.

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We descended the southern end of the Kuna Crest and headed for Mt. Lyell (13,114′). Mt Lyell is at the southern extremity of the Cathedral Range.

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Side-trip to Donohue Pass. The Minarets Wilderness has been renamed, to the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

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Glacier-polished granite

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Camped below Mt. Lyell

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At the foot of Mt. Lyell

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Climbing a snow chute to gain the summit ridge of Mt. Lyell

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On the summit of Mt. Lyell. Banner and Ritter Peaks are seen to the southeast.

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This climb ended the course. We had traveled extensively through Yosemite National Park, and seen very few others on the way. What a privilege!

Tioga Pass

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Mammoth Peak, at the northern end of the Kuna Crest, from the Tioga Rd.

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Dana Meadow

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Tioga Pass entry station, looking into the Park

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The White Mountains, from Tioga Pass

Saddlebag Lake is located just east of Tioga Pass, and provides a good vantage point to view Mt. Conness and White Mountain.

White Mountain.jpg

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White Mountain (left) and Mt. Conness (right), from Saddlebag Lake

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Mt. Conness, from Saddlebag Lake

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Sunset, at Saddlebag Lake

Aerial Photos, Southwest Airlines flights

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Western boundary of Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake, view to the east

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View to the northeast, of Mt. Conness, White Mountain and Saddlebag Lake

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same as above, but a wider view

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Kuna Crest, view to the southeast

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View to the southeast of Yosemite NP and Ansel Adams Wilderness, to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

 

The End

 

 

 

 

Posted in California, Mountaineering, Nature, Outward Bound and similar, Photography, Ski touring, SWA Flights-photography | Tagged | Leave a comment

Yosemite National Park – Tuolomne Meadows

Tuolomne Meadows is another gem. Beautiful in and of itself, it is surrounded on all sides by sublime scenery. The Tuolomne River passes through the Meadows, coming from the crest of the Sierras and descending into a remote gorge, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne. The Meadows and trails that originate there are, nowadays, very crowded – but I had the pleasure of having the place to myself in the “good old days”.

Pothole Dome

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View to the east, of Tuolomne Meadows and the Sierra Crest, from Pothole Dome, which is located at the western end of the Meadows

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View to the west, from the above

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Mounts Dana (left) and Gibbs (right). Lembert Dome, at the eastern end of the Meadows, is seen in front of Mt. Dana

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Tuolomne Meadows and the Kuna Crest, view to the east from Pothole Dome

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The trail to the low-angle, eastern side of Pothole Dome follows along its southern side

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Pine needles, at the foot of the Pothole Dome

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Kathy, on Pothole Dome

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On Pothole Dome

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A glacier-polished feldspar crystal, on Pothole Dome

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Glacier-polish, on Pothole Dome

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Gleaming glacier-polish, on the lower slopes of Fairview Dome, to the south of Pothole Dome

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Apatite vein, on Pothole Dome

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Telephoto of Mt. Conness, from Pothole Dome

Tuolomne Meadows Campground

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Glacier-polished slabs

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The Lyell Fork of the Tuolomne River and Lembert Dome

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Lembert Dome, view to the east

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Lembert Dome

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same as above

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same as above

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Along the Lyell Fork

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same as above

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same as above

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same as above

The Lyell Fork, upstream of the campground

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The Cathedral Range

The Cathedral Range borders Tuolomne Meadows to the south, with a number of great looking granite peaks and spires. In 1987, myself and son Ethan hiked into some of the spectacular scenery of the Cathedral Range.

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Ethan

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Elizabeth Lake

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Pine

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Matthes Crest

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same as above

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Matthes Crest and Unicorn Peak

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Cathedral Peak and Eichorn Pinnacle

Cathedral Peak

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Cathedral Peak, 1976

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Landon Carter, who was, at the time, a Trainer for est  (the training created by Werner Erhard)

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Steve Miller, on the summit of Cathedral Peak

Here is the link to the final post on Yosemite – the High Sierra: https://believesteve.org/2020/01/04/yosemite-national-park-the-high-sierras/

 

 

 

 

Posted in California, Hiking, Nature, Photography | 2 Comments

Yosemite National Park – Tenaya Lake

The Tioga Road passes the trail head for May Lake, then Olmstedt Point, Tenaya Lake, and the climbing venues on the Stately Pleasure Dome and Pywiack Dome.

May Lake, 2019.

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Mount Hoffman, from the trail to May Lake

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View southeast, from the trail to May Lake. Cathedral Peak (left) and Echo Peaks (right)

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View from the trail to May Lake

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Extreme telephoto view of Vogelsang Peak, from the trail to May Lake

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May Lake and Mt. Hoffman

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May Lake

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May Lake

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View of Half Dome, from a pull-out on the way to Olmstedt Point. X marks the spot where the Cable route to the summit begins. Figures can just barely be made out.

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Red crossbills

Olmstedt Point.

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Glacier-polished slabs

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same as above

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Glacier-ground slabs

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same as above

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Sierra juniper

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Chipmunk

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Lizard

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Pine cones drip sap

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Mob scene, Sept. 2019

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Potholes

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Pika

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Sierra juniper

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same as above

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same as above

Views to the west.

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Clouds Rest Peak is seen on the left, the Quarter Domes in the center, and Half Dome on the right

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Clouds Rest Peak is a bastion of granite. At its right extremity are the Quarter Domes

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Clouds Rest Peak

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Half Dome, with Mt. Watkins in the right foreground

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Half Dome and cars, at Olmstedt Point

Views to the east.

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A wide-angle view from the summit of a small dome that sits above Olmstedt Point. Tenaya Lake is to the right, with a snowy Mt. Conness in the distance. Immediately to the left of Tenaya Lake is a formation named “The Stately Pleasure Dome” (SPD), by climbers. And the small dome seen just beyond Tenaya Lake is Pywiack Dome.

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Telephoto view of the SPD, with climbers seen near both the top and bottom of the photo. The open book facing the camera is a route known as the Great White Book.

Tenaya Lake and the Stately Pleasure Dome.

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Tenaya Lake

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Tenaya Lake

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The Great White Book, on the SPD

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Climbers on the Great White Book route

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Climber free-soloing the Great White Book route. His left hand reaches into his chalk bag.

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Another route on the SPD. Runners and carabiners connect his rope to protection pieces placed into the crack to his side.

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Friction climbing on the SPD

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Same as above. The tan areas are glacier polish.

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same as above

Pywiack Dome.

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Sierra juniper

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Friction climbing. The figure at the left is rappelling down.

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same as above

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same as above

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This route follows  a system of dikes

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Rappelling from the top of the slab

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Tree in pothole

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Granite slab, forest and cliffs

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Curved overhang

Here is the link to the next post: https://believesteve.org/2020/01/02/yosemite-national-park-tuolomne-meadows/

Tuolomne Meadows, which is located just a few miles up the road.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in California, Photography, Rock climbing | Leave a comment

Yosemite National Park – The Valley

I’ve been coming and going from Yosemite for a long time. Yosemite Valley (and the balance of the park that surrounds it) is in a class by itself – first, for its spectacular granite architecture, and then for its waterfalls, rivers, meadows, trees and so much more.

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Left to right: Royal Arches, Washington Column and Half Dome. 4X5 photo, mid-60s.

I first visited Yosemite in 1955, when my parents, myself and my Aunt Etta did a 6 week-long tour of the western US, primarily to see the National Parks. I was 15 at the time, and the magnificence of the parks made such an impression on me as to determine the course of the rest of my life.

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At the Wawona Tree. Myself, and my Mom at the wheel. 1955.

I returned to Yosemite Valley in 1960. I had become a climber that summer, and learned that “The Valley” was a climbing mecca.

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Climbing on the Royal Arches, with Pete Lev. Early 60s.

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Postcard to my folks, showing my climb on Yosemite Point Buttress. Early 60s.

I spent many weeks and months in the Valley during the early 60s, after having started, and then stopped, my college education (at UC-Berkeley) in 1959. I became a ski and climbing bum, traveling throughout the western US and abroad. In 1966, I married Karen Holdaway and returned to UC-Berkeley. This put me, again, in the vicinity of Yosemite.

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Snow climb on Sentinel Rock, early 60s. View to the east, with the snow-covered Clouds Rest Peak in the center, and Half Dome on the right.

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Same, view to the west, with the Cathedral Rocks on the left and El Capitan on the right

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Postcard to my folks, showing climb of the Southwest Face of Half Dome, early 60s

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Cathedral Spires, in a smokey haze. Fall, 2019

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Me, climbing Higher Cathedral Spire. Photo by my climbing partner (and later National Geographic photographer), David Hiser. 1964

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Middle Cathedral Rock, in a smokey haze. Fall 2019. Behind the trees on the left is the East Buttress route, which I climbed with Joe Faint in the mid-60s.

Reed'sPinnacleDirect DSCN2171.jpg

Climbers, on the Direct route of Reed Pinnacle. The standard route on Reed Pinnacle was my last Valley climb, Spring 1966.

My last climb in the Valley was on the standard route of Reed Pinnacle, in the company of Jim Bridwell and Kim Schmitz. I tell that story in another post: https://believesteve.org/2016/05/12/reed-pinnacle-my-last-climb-in-yosemite-valley-spring-1966/

The Associated Students at UC-Berkeley (ASUC) ran a top-notch photo lab, staffed by the published professionals Dave Bohn and Roger Minich. The teaching emphasis was on the West Coast tradition, best exemplified by Ansel Adams. So, I returned to Yosemite with a 4X5 camera.

YosemitePointButtress4X5AD.jpg

Lost Arrow and Yosemite Point Buttress, mid-1960s

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Left to right: Cathedral Rocks, Bridalveil Falls drainage and Leaning Tower

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Merced River in the foreground, with, left to right: El Capitan, Clouds Rest Peak, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and Lower Cathedral Rock

 

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At the base of Upper Yosemite Falls. Sentinel Rock is seen on the left. Mid-60s.

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At the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, mid-60s

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Lower Yosemite Falls, mid-60s

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Potholes, Lower Yosemite Falls, mid-60s

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Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, mid-60s

35mm photos, 1960s.

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Merced River, winter, early 60s

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Vernal Falls, early 60s

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Snow-covered benches, early 60s

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Deer, early 60s

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Merced River and maples, early 60s

El Capitan, 1990.

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North America Wall

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The Nose and the Dawn Wall

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The Nose sits in the center of this vast expanse of vertical granite

Yosemite Point Buttress, 1990.

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Lost Arrow and Yosemite Point Buttress

Vernal Falls, 1990

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Vernal Falls, ’90

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Vernal Falls, ’90

Merced River in winter (photos interpreted with Topaz Simplify).

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Camp 4, early 60s.

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Maya, with dogwood blossoms

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Columbia Rock, with Gary Colliver (left) and Jeff Foote (right)

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Columbia Rock, with Jeff Foote

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Camp 4 scene

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Camp 4, with Gary Colliver (left) and Fred Beckey (right)

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Camp 4 table

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Columbia Rock, Steve Miller. Photo by Karen Miller.

Little Yosemite.

Little Yosemite is the valley of the upper Merced River, located atop Nevada Falls.

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Left to right: the backside (south face) of Half Dome, Liberty Cap, Nevada Falls and the entry to Little Yosemite. From vicinity of Glacier Point, 1990.

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Sierra juniper and lichen

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Silver Apron, Merced River

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Silver Apron, Merced River

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Steve Miller, fishing in the Merced River, early 60s

Here is the link to the next post – Tenaya Lake:

https://believesteve.org/2020/01/01/yosemite-national-park-tenaya-lake/

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in California, Nature, Photography, Rock climbing | Leave a comment

Bald Eagles for the Holidays

It’s Christmas Day (2019), and one of my presents was to sight four bald eagles. I was able to photograph two of them. This was along the Racecourse stretch of the Rio Grande, between Pilar and the County Line River Access.

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Eagles Everywhere!

The major migration of bald eagles has arrived at the Rio Grande. They come, presumably, from points north, and always show up in mid-December … which, I’m guessing, is when the northern waters have started to ice up. The Rio Grande is relatively ice-free in the winter, which also attracts bunches of northern ducks. The eagles hunt those ducks, along with fish.  They are readily seen along the river from Velarde upstream to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which stretches to the Colorado border. The Orilla Verde stretch of the Monument, which begins in the vicinity of Pilar and ends 6 miles upstream at Taos Junction Bridge, is where I habitually see the greatest concentration of eagles. Eagles are also often spotted along the Racecourse stretch, downstream of Pilar (see map at end of post). The following photos were all taken yesterday (12-20-19) in Orilla Verde.

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Posted in Birding, Nature, New Mexico, Photography, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument | Leave a comment