Jun 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm #1291330
I started from Mineral King very late one afternoon, going over Timber Gap. For the second day, I photographed a Spotted Owl deep in the old-growth forest. For the third day, I went over Kaweah Gap, all the way down past the Big Five Lakes Basin to Lost Canyon, then up to Columbine Lake. On the last morning, I went over Sawtooth Pass back toward Mineral King and photographed a Blue Grouse. That, with all of the deer and marmots and other critters, made for a good photographic trip of about 37 miles.
No matter what Canon and Nikon try to sell you in their television commercials, you can't get these shots with a compact camera.
–B.G.–Jun 24, 2012 at 7:38 am #1889666
@richardcullipLocale: San Diego County
Nice pictures with amazing closeup focus and details.. That is some pretty country up there.Jun 24, 2012 at 9:00 am #1889677
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Yes, very nice.Jun 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm #1889731
Does anybody have a freezer bag recipe for Spotted Owl?
–B.G.–Jun 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm #1889758
@rick778Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Nice photos Bob.Jun 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm #1889784
And then… there are the wildlife photos that you don't normally see. Bart Simpson would say, "Eat my shorts!" A deer took that literally, almost.
This deer had found some boxer shorts at Hamilton Lake. Now, it knew not to try to eat them completely. However, it liked the salt from sweat, so it just chewed on the cloth for maybe thirty minutes.
I guess some guy had to walk home commando style.
–B.G.–Jun 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm #1889997
Interesting. NPS is putting the Spotted Owl sighting and photo into its database of endangered and sensitive wildlife species within the national park. They needed to know the exact latitude/longitude, date and time, and what the base weight was on my backpack.
–B.G.–Jun 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm #1890014
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I can see the date, time and location. But you are just kidding us with the base weight, right?Jun 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm #1890019
Nick, you're right. The base weight was only slightly more than the camera weight.
Yes, I was only joking about the recipe for Spotted Owl. Everybody knows that all it takes is some olive oil, some salt, and a hot pan. I'm thinking I might even try Spotted Owl jerky next time.
At the time, I thought that it was a smallish Great Grey Owl. What do I know? Once I got the photo on the computer at home and got out the bird ID books, I discovered what I really had. The grouse… I thought it was a Sage Grouse. It didn't look anything like the Blue Grouse that I had seen before, although it tasted the same, kind of gamey, but it goes well with either red or white wine.
–B.G.–Jun 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm #1890360
Bob — your photos are always great, but your jokes are getting even better.Jun 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm #1890363
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Very, very jealous. I tried to go up sawtooth pass into the big 5 lakes basin last year but had to stop because of the elevation. I was loosing focus and falling over. It was a big waste of time and gas money. And now I likely won't have any free time this summer.
Anyways, great pics! I love Mineral King.Jun 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm #1890378
I am no expert on Mineral King. It was my first time there. However, I don't think that you want to go _up_ Sawtooth Pass to get to the Big Five Lakes Basin. I mean, it is possible, but I wouldn't want to do it. The west side of Sawtooth Pass is an awful slope of loose scree and no maintained trail.
I started from Mineral King, then went over Timber Gap and Kaweah Gap, then around to the bottom of the Big Five Lakes Basin, then continued around to Lost Canyon, up to Columbine Lake. Sure, that is a lot of miles to get around, but it is better than knocking yourself out from Sawtooth Pass (the hard way).
I had originally intended to go over Timber Gap and Kaweah Gap, and come back west by way of Black Rock Pass. But then at my first camp, I was studying the topo map, and the descent off Black Rock Pass, then the subsequent ascent to Timber Gap again did not really warm my heart. So, I made a sudden decision when I was near the Big Arroyo Cabin, and I went farther around the way I did.
In fact, the whole trip was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I had a different trip planned with somebody else who suddenly bailed. I had the gear ready to pack up, so I left within the day.
–B.G.–Jun 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm #1890454
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Bob, thanks for the nice pics. I especially liked the one of the blue grouse. They sure make a funny noise don't they?
That area is special to me, because it was one of the first backpacking trips I did after moving to California. I've been back a few times now. Lost Canyon and Big Arroyo are both really beautiful places. I also highly recommend the Chagoopa Plateau.
I would NOT want to hike up Sawtooth Pass from the Mineral King side… I think it took me about 2 hours to get up the east side, then about 15 minutes to scree ski 1500' down the west side. I saw some poor chap carrying about 50 lbs of gear (mostly lenses and a big tripod) up the pass near Monarch Lakes and he looked pretty miserable.
AndrewJun 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm #1890458
"They sure make a funny noise don't they?"
Yes, the males inflate a colorful air sac on their neck, and make a booming sound. I could hear one for a quarter-mile in the distance, so that allowed me to prepare for the shot. I now realize that the only previous Blue Grouse I had ever photographed was a hen, and that explains some of my confusion with identification.
The Spotted Owl had an interesting whooting and barking call as well, but I am no expert birder, and I didn't have my field sound recording rig with me.
I've just finished reading a book on the history of Mineral King, and I read the early accounts of how full of wildlife it was in 1870. Then the miners showed up, and most of the wildlife ended up in the stew pot, including what they called ground hogs (marmots). There sure were a bunch of them last week. I had parked my car and had protected it from below with a tarp, and then left. Within ten minutes, the marmots were circling the car trying to figure out how to attack the tarp. They just love to chew on car coolant hoses so that they can drink the coolant.
–B.G.–May 22, 2014 at 6:56 am #2105073
@swimjayLocale: Northern California
Just got back from Hamilton Lake, and that deer is no longer "finding" cloth to chew, he's stealing it whenever he can, sometimes enlisting another three members of his family (?) to create a distraction. We had to be constantly vigilant. Stones were thrown, but Bambi was barely fazed.
On a grosser note (sorry), he was also very interested in chowing down on fresh urine. Blech.May 22, 2014 at 8:48 am #2105100
Great pics, Bob!May 22, 2014 at 8:58 am #2105102
@fox212Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Really great pics, Bob, and in a beautiful area. I loved hiking out of Mineral King…except for Sawtooth Pass of course.
"I don't think that you want to go _up_ Sawtooth Pass…"
+eleventy billion :)May 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm #2105181
"Just got back from Hamilton Lake"
What are the current trail conditions?
–B.G.–May 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm #2105252
@swimjayLocale: Northern California
As of last Friday, May 16th, trail totally clear to from Crescent Meadow to Hamilton, plenty of available water, though no difficult crossings. Then, intermittent snow on the last 2/5 of the trail from Hamilton to Precipice, though the trail was always evident. Snowy beyond Precipice, the trail indeterminate. We only intended to go as far as Precipice (still totally frozen, though the lake below it was starting to show patches of blue), but two backpackers ahead of us, who had hoped to do the HST, turned back a short way beyond Precipice because of the snow, (though one of them would rather have kept going).May 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm #2105256
Hmmm. It sounds like the typical conditions for mid-June. Thanks.
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