Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lyell Canyon to Evelyn Lake: High Sierra Loop~ Part 2 of 3

"Keep close to nature's heart... and break clear away once in awhile and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."
               ~ John Muir

Oh, that John Muir was a wise man! My nephew was the recipient of many such quotes as we hiked along the trail...

Here's the view from our first camp in Lyell Canyon, along the Tuolumne river~ looking towards Donahue Pass. Just gorgeous isn't it?

Crossing one of the many wonderful creeks along the trail.

Climbing higher, the trail intersected Ireland Creek which was thundering down the mountain. Having come from New Mexico where we are in a significant drought, I was totally in awe of the amount of refreshingly beautiful, life sustaining, powerful, clear water flowing from seemingly everywhere!

I chose this spot for a lunch break (push the play button for a quick 5 sec video.) It was awesome place to hang out a bit before continuing on up the trail!

A lovely flat meadow gives us a bit of respite in our upward climb before heading into snow country!

 As we climbed higher, amazing views opened up around us. It is estimated that the High Sierra received somewhere between 178 & 200 % of normal snowfall this year (depending on which website you look at.) 

That, combined with a cool spring means we were treated to snow in July... and quite a fair amount of it as we reached higher elevations!

I was fascinated by the Sun Cups in the snow & the interesting patterns they made. (Click twice on any image for detail & to bring a bit of the High Sierra to your home!)

My Nephew negotiating the Suncups on the "trail."

They were quite fun to hike across, though in some places the snow fields were long enough to obscure the trail completely & it was necessary to employ our stellar route finding skills to find the trail once again!

In some places snow melt took the path of least resistance, flowing down the trail itself.

Little Snow Bridge over unnamed creek.

You've got to pay attention when traveling over snow as it's melting, as in some place you can punch through to unstable footing below.

Our camp at Evelyn Lake~ click to enlarge to see the little yellow tent in a sea of snow and granite, trees and sky.

Walking around camp at sunset,

taking in the shadows & patterns made by shifting light on sun cups in the snow.

The last rays of sunlight, kissing mountain peaks goodnight.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yosemite High Sierra Backpacking Loop: (Part 1 of 3) Lyell Canyon

Have I mentioned that I LOVE being out in the wilderness? Love, love, love it! I hadn't been up to the High Sierra for a couple of summers due to work & school obligations, but I think my absence made me appreciate it all the more. I had started taking my nephew up to Yosemite when he was only 13 on his first backpacking trip. He just turned 18 & this is our 4th trip together. I was surprised when I saw this pic at how much shorter I've become, ha ha! I was also happy to let him carry more of the gear this time around!
Cody & I @ Tuolumne Meadows~ Yosemite National Park

Our hike began in Toulumne Meadows~ this is the trail going up Lyell Canyon. Just gorgeous, isn't it? The sunshine, blue skies, clean air and the smell of forest were just amazing & I think I had an ear-to-ear grin all day!

We saw plenty of deer, though they weren't interested in turning around for a photo- op!

Though I've hiked this trail many times, the beauty never ceases to amaze me. They had an enormous amount of snow this year, & the lakes, streams & rivers were full.

Sitting & soaking in the view at my favorite secret swimming hole along the Tuolumne River.

That's me making a splash! I had to jump in twice before getting my nephew to jump in the icy waters...

 I thought this shot of him going in was a classic.

Farther along on our hike... enjoying views of the forest, meadows & high peaks.

Ha ha ha... I thought I'd put this in for a chuckle. It's me trying to fit all our food in the bear canister, which was a challenge. (The bears will get your food if you try to hang it & it would just be stupid to keep it in your tent, though I've heard people do. Bear canisters are actually mandatory while backpacking in Yosemite.) The mosquitos were so bad in the evening at our first camp, that I donned my rain jacket & tried to keep as much of my face & head covered as I could! (I hate to use that toxic mosquito repellant!)

While we didn't see or hear bears in our camp, there was evidence that they were there when we woke the next morning. The bear can was not in the precise location that I had left it... and the gashes at the top of the can were where he apparently tried to take a bite out of it, which I had never had happen before. Though so far, I have not heard of them being able to break into these cans.

My nephew in "the kitchen." Not a bad place to start the day!

Wilderness Coffee Shop

And what better way to start the day than a delicious cup 'o joe! I don't really go for that instant stuff~ I brought coffee from one of my favorite independent coffee house in Taos, NM! It's a great way to start the day & get ready for the next leg of the journey.
Stay tuned for Part two... coming soon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

High Sierra or Bust!

Life has it's ways of making it's own plans for you sometimes. My plan last week was to be backpacking in the High Sierra range- instead I was laid flat most of the week w/ some sort of flu bug! Arrgh! I'm feeling much better now & it worked out just fine since I've got a little more time off and now my nephew is able to join me as well! We'll head up for a short little trip & hopefully I'll have some gorgeous photos to show you when I get back in a week or so.
Oh, p.s.~ I found the old suitcase pictured above at a resale/antique shop, & for 17 bucks I had to have it. I thought it went great w/ the abandoned car that was nearby.

Friday, July 15, 2011

To the Ocean

I finally got a chance to get down to the coast today & thought I'd share a few pictures that I took while wandering around Point Loma.  

The tide was going out & I was happy to find this little cave in the cliff that would  otherwise be submerged on a high tide.

The colors & patterns on the cave wall were incredible. In artistic terms, I am not often drawn to the abstract, but in nature I am drawn to these abstract patterns time & time again. There is something about them that I just can't put my finger on, but i find them quite striking.

While the last photo doesn't really fit with the others, I enjoy the color, contrast & simplicity.

It was really nice to see the ocean & breathe the ocean air after many months away.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Stop in Winslow, Arizona

I had heard of & have seen pictures of "Standin' on the Corner" Park in Winslow, Arizona, but had never stopped while on the road to & from New Mexico. This time I decided to stop & see check it out. The artwork was done by illusionist mural artist John Pugh & was based on the famous 1972 Eagle's song Take it Easy.  It's well worth the visit if you happen to be passing through~ the mural work is awesome.

 The requisite "Flatbed Ford" parked on the corner.

On a more somber note, Winslow is also home to this "Remembrance Garden," to honor those fallen in the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Click to enlarge to read

 I don't know how many states in the U.S have a memorial such as this. As sad as it was to visit, I think it is important to remember. The steel beams are actual pieces from what was left behind from the World Trade Towers. 

As I ran my hand over the twisted metal, I reflected back on the day of the attack. I'm sure every American knows exactly where they were at that moment... and we all shared the horror, fear, grief and the uncertainty in days (weeks, months, years) that followed.

My thoughts drifted to those that were lost, and the grief of their families and loved ones. In a single day~ Sept 11, 2001, the life of every American forever changed... 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gettin' Outta Town

I had actually planned my summer vacation long before the fires started. But I'll be honest,  soon after the Las Conchas fire started & blazed out of control- threatening Los Alamos National Lab & quickly surpassing the largest wildfire ever recorded on NM record... I was anxious to leave & felt like I was just counting the days until I was finished with work. The skies always seemed hazy, sometimes with large plumes of smoke & sometimes eery sunrises like this one. All the surrounding forests were closed (rightly so!) and on June 30th, even our local trails in town were shut down. Though some people were not worried, I was on constant edge.... not just about the rapid spread of the fire, but of reports of danger from above ground stores of plutonium at the lab & what would occur should they ignite. (Not to mention pesky nuclear waste that "may have been disposed of in the -now burning-canyons surrounding LANL".) *Gulp*

Sunrise through smoke filled skies,  July 2nd 2011
So, needless to say, I was happy to get on the road today. (Having traveled for many years before settling in Santa Fe... I tend to get anxious if I am in one place too long anyhow... and it had been 6 months in the same place!) Below is the view as I left town~ 

Smoke from the Las Conchas fire looking toward Cochiti from I-25. You can hardly see the mountains & mesas~ click to enlarge.
The most recent reports from the inciweb state the Las Conchas Fire has now burned 127,821 acres & is 27 % contained. The Pacheco fire is now on monitor status @ 55% containment after having burned 10,250 acres. They have set up numbers to call for smoke concerns, as well as mental health concerns. I must not have been they only one anxious over these fires! In fact, this tells me that there were a considerable number of people that shared these concerns. At any rate, I am glad to get away for a bit... and will have some road trip pics to share soon. Hope you are all well...