Sunday, August 31, 2008

Backpack Complaints

Mike used a Gregory Forester backpack for his trip. This pack is the latest in a number of attempts Mike has made to find an OK (not perfect) pack. One of his first purchases back in the 70’s was a North Face Ruthsac, one of the first internal-frame packs. At one point he was using a Kelty frame with a North Face pack bag attached. In the last 10 years he has gone through a smallish Lowe backpack, an extremely large Gregory Shasta pack and a lightweight Gregory Z pack.

Shown is his current model (the Forester.) What to do!?—because it isn’t correct either. The hydration unit has to be attached to the outside of the pack using the compression straps (probably not the right thing to do): when it's filled with water the balance goes out of whack. Mike had to try and even things up by attaching his clothes stuff sack on the opposite side. Didn’t always work. And note how the Thermarest is also attached to the outside: asking for trouble.

The most serious issue was that the pack simply doesn't fit. It’s too wide at the shoulders (as Mike has been informed by the physical therapist at Kaiser) and the waist band is too large. All throughout the hike Mike’s right shoulder kept acting up . . . very annoying.

Mike considerately kept these and other aggravations out of the previous days' mikereports, preferring to create an idealized version of events.

Just FYI.

Photo: Gregory Backpack—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Back to the Trailhead

Yes, a very dry year. Mike had to hike over the barren exposed bottom of Lake Edison to get to the Vermilion Resort shuttle pick-up point (the shuttle boats this year, by necessity, are extremely modest aluminum affairs with small outboard motors).

One would think that if SCE was going to cut down trees to create a lake, that they would then deem it necessary to keep the lake filled. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

And then, after arriving at the opposite shore, an extremely bumpy ride back to the trailhead in an old Ford, and then the short walk to Mike’s parked Infiniti.

Photos: Dry Lake Bed (Lake Edison)—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Boat (Lake Edison Shuttle)—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Shifting Gears, Ford Truck—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Backpack—Final Night

—from Mike’s journal:

6:30 AM. 46°. Yow . . . sore all over. More boulder pix.

9:00. Leave camp.

10:00. Mott Creek—much better flow! Finally, sound of water. Breakfast.

10:20. Pocket Meadow.

12:15 PM. Mono Creek bridge. Hike over the bridge in order to camp in shade (Quail Meadows.)

1:30. 79° in shade. Temperature varies according to the wind: sometimes over 80°, sometimes below.

6:50. Sunset. 70°. Over to the bridge to take photos of Mono Creek.

Photos: Mono Creek—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Foliage & Granite—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Tent, Quail Meadows—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Horse Camp Meadow

Leaving Papoose Lake Mike ventured south on the John Muir Trail, crossing over Silver Pass and reaching Horse Camp Meadow by 12:45. Mike calls it Horse Camp Meadow because the site is used as a camp by Rock Creek Stables during their guided horse trips. You can easily detect the area where the horses are tethered.

In fact, the meadow has no name on the map, perhaps because as meadows go this one is fairly nondescript: Silver Pass Creek enters at one end, meanders here and there and then spills over a granite wall at the eastern edge. This August, alas, the creek was almost non-existent.

The real reason that Mike has made this a destination spot is due to the large undulating field of granite in back of the meadow, along with an overwhelming quantity of erratic boulders—boulders lifted up and carried by glaciers and deposited back on the ground at random (that is to say, where they would have the most esthetic impact.)

Mike set up his camp amongst the boulders, but had to wait until after sunset for boulder pix: the sun bouncing off the granite was much too hot and contrasty. In the meantime he wrote, read, and engaged in the ever-popular False Hellebore pix hunt.

Photos: Boulders, Granite—Sierra Nevada, 2008; False Hellebore—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Boulders & Tent—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Alpenglow & Trout Ripples

—from Mike's journal:

1:00 PM—Goodale Pass. 10,997 ft. Lunch.

2:30 PM—Papoose Lake. Camp.

5:00 PM—Weather uncertain. Cloudy, then windy, then some sun. Grateful for overcast up to Goodale Pass. Now 56°.

7:00 PM—Sunset. Sky clear. 50°. Alpenglow.

Photos: Alpenglow, Papoose Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Trout Ripples, Papoose Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Goodale Pass & The Silver Divide

Walking through the dim forest the approach to Goodale Pass started before Mike was aware of it. Suddenly he realized that the packed dirt trail had started to switchback, though only fragmentary glimpses of the Silver Divide were visible through the foliage.

Adding to the overall interest was the cloud cover that kept advancing, clearing, and then advancing once again. (This turned out to be a bit of luck, keeping the temperature down as Mike ascended.) Finally: into the granite, heart pounding, breath short, pace down to a crawl. And then, Goodale Pass and lunch.

After a short rest, he hoisted his bulky Gregory backpack onto his shoulders and started down the other side. At once he noticed the change: the landscape drier, more open and granitic. Mike decided to look for a campsite at Papoose Lake, directly below him.

Photos: Silver Divide—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Mike at Goodale Pass—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Papoose Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Hike to Upper Graveyard Meadow

This part of Mike’s backpack followed a trail through the relatively abundant forest of the west side of the Sierra Nevada. In spite of their funereal names, both Lower and Upper Graveyard Meadows are pleasant-enough places. In fact, Mike heard from one backpacking couple that they had attended a wedding there!

He encountered cattle at one point near the beginning, managing to circumspectly detour around them since they seemed disinclined to relinquish the trail.

Mike dislikes water crossings, so wouldn’t you know, there were three, as the trail crossed back and forth over Cold Creek. And they weren’t easy: no nice stepping stones or plank bridges. At the first two crossings Mike relied on the old put-on-your-boots-without-socks-and-wade-through routine; which worked well enough the first time, but at the second the stream was so deep that water flowed over the top of his boots. Luckily Mike was ready to stop for the day, because a lengthy drying-out period was in order for both boots and socks (which had become soaked after putting the boots back on.) Items were moved from granite to tree to shrub to catch the precious sun. Next day he used his Tevas for the third crossing, which turned out to be a piece ‘o cake.

Photos: Branches & Granite—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Cattle—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Boots & Sox—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Kaiser Pass Road

"20 miles," Mike said to himself. "How bad could it be?"

Picture this: a one-lane road with pitifully small turnouts scraped from the granite mountainside at irregular intervals. Sometimes, not even that. And innumerable blind corners. And, not to mention its roller coaster trick of going up a rise leaving one unable to see if a vehicle is coming. Of course, all of this is mitigated—somewhat mitigated—by the awe-inspiring Sierra scenery. Needless to say, Mike, while driving his car, couldn’t look at the scenery.

However, Mike did take a number of photos wanting to communicate the wonders of the Kaiser Pass road. As luck would have it, turning one corner he came upon a massive garbage truck heading in his direction. Mike quickly backed up, squirming his Infiniti into a tiny little turnout space; the truck was just able to get by, then Mike turned and took its photo.

More ranting available here.

Photos: Kaiser Pass Road—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Garbage Truck, Kaiser Pass Road—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mill Valley Steps

I was in Mill Valley recently, fussing with my drip irrigation system, and then a did a pickup for Hali.

Drip irrigation still needs fussing, alas. A lot of fussing. Had to wait a bit for Hali's item, so I walked around a bit with the camera.

Photo: Mill Valley Steps—Marin County, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spring Onions

More Farmers Market pix.

Photos: Spring Onions—Marin County, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bok Choy

I'm pretty sure that it's bok choy . . .

Photo: Bok Choy—Marin County, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's Good for You

More Farmers Market images . . . from a more recent visit.

There are two cloned broccoli bits in the lower right hand corner. Just FYI.

Photo: Broccoli—Marin County, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trees & Reflections II

Taken on Kearney St opposite the Bank of America building. Please compare to this photo.

Photo: Trees & Reflections—San Francisco, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008


I spent last Friday night in Berkeley with Hali, Marsha and Franz for a nice dinner at La Mediterranee restaurant on College Avenue. Actually, my old haunts: I lived on College Avenue in the early 1970's while I was doing my Asian Studies thing at U.C.

And there I am, haunting this pix in the upper right hand corner.

Photo: Leaves, Reflections—Berkeley, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Backpacking Notes

My two least-favorite things when backpacking are a) mosquitoes, and b) water crossings. That’s exactly the reason I choose to go in late August: a) mosquitoes peak in early July and diminish significantly thereafter, and b) water levels peak in June and diminish significantly thereafter. Of course I take along insect repellant. I also have a pair of Tevas to use as camp shoes, but they can also be used as water crossing waders if needed. (I definitely don’t like to rock-hop, not with a backpack anyway.)

The above photo was taken in Dusy Basin last year (in August: no mosquitoes and no water crossings) during my Bishop Pass / LeConte Canyon backpack.

But it was hot! Yikes! Another of my dislikes. Can’t have everything.

Photo: Granite & Rocks—Sierra Nevada, 2007

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Coffee Bar Print

The original Coffee Bar photo was posted here. In the comments, Shawna wondered how a print of the photo would look in a contemporary loft.

As a test, I made this print on my HP 8750 (as seen in the photo) on 13x19 inkjet photo paper.

Looks pretty good! I shot the photo at 1/30th second, but with image stabilization turned on, so the image is slightly soft . . . wouldn’t want to enlarge it any bigger.

The question is, what would it look like on other media (rag paper, canvas, etc.)? Alas, I can’t use alternative media on the HP, so I'd have to utilize an outside printing service.

Photo: Coffee Bar Print—Marin County, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

That Ansel Adams’ Moment

Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready
to have somebody click the shutter.
—A. Adams

How nice for Mr. Adams! I can just picture God coming up with an awe-inspiring combination of rocks, mountains, clouds and sky, a combination that would look just great, you know, from a certain viewpoint, but holding Himself back . . . just . . . a . . . minute, waiting for Ansel Adams to arrive in his station wagon, the one with the rooftop platform.

Alas, I have not been quite so fortunate. Not only do I not have a station wagon with a rooftop platform, I don’t have any cozy arrangement with God. The rocks, mountains, clouds and sky are always off in the distance, or too hazy, or, what’s worse, they’re not even there.

But every now and then, fate (uh, God) does conspire to give you one of those Ansel Adams’ Moments.

And so it was when Hali, Barbara and I went for a naturalist hike near Mount Burdell in Novato (northern Marin County.) The hike started much later than I would have liked; evening was quickly approaching. But there were the clouds. They were the remnants of monsoonal moisture sweeping up from the Gulf of California that had passed through Marin County earlier in the day.

The naturalist (sorry, don’t have his name) talked about: California Buckeyes, Sudden Oak Death, mountain lions, invasive species, and . . . other things. But of course, all I concentrated on were the clouds, and the evening light.

Well, here’s one of the photos I took. Haven’t tried to print it yet . . . we’ll see how it turns out. Of course, I’m a great admirer of Ansel Adams . . . I’ve even been in the presence of his piano.

Photo: Evening Sky—Marin County, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Way of the Geezer: Backpacking

Currently gearing up for my August, 2008 backpack. This year I’ve planned to do the Goodale Pass / Silver Pass loop: start hiking at Lake Edison, go over Goodale Pass to the John Muir Trail, then follow the JMT back over Silver Pass and take the Lake Edison ferry back to the trailhead.

The road going in, starting just beyond Shaver Lake, is aggravatingly narrow. Wouldn’t be so bad except all kinds of large vehicles routinely use it, from delivery trucks to RVs. I usually drive in part way, then car camp up near the top (where I took this photo in 2004, on my way to Evolution Valley.) Then start backpacking the following day.

Photo: Manzanita Branch—Sierra Nevada, 2004

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

667 Clay St

"King Guang Trading Inc."

Photo: King Guang Trading Inc.—San Francisco, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


In San Francisco yesterday for lunch with Mary and Wanda.

Continuing onwards with my reflections theme.

Photo: Guess—San Francisco, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

. . . from the archives #21: Rocks & Gulls—Oregon, 1985

I thought this was in California, but apparently not. A tripod shot. (I think.)

Photo: Rocks & Gulls—Oregon, 1985

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunrise, East Lake

A sunrise view of East Lake taken from the same angle as the one here, during my 2002 backpack.

Photo: Sunrise, East Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2002

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Return to Green Creek

After the Bear Incident, Hali and I were of course ready to leave early Saturday morning. So we threw everything into the truck, took one last look around, inserted the key into the ignition, turned it, and . . .


Yup. Battery was dead.

More fussing and dithering. Finally Hali got up enough courage to knock on Ed’s door. He kindly (after some technical back and forth with the cables) jumpstarted the truck.


We’ve seen Green Creek on the blog before.

The Green Creek Campground itself is a very idyllic spot, located amidst aspens and pines with the constant murmuring and burbling of Green Creek in the background; I’ve often stayed there.

Alas, it’s clear the campground is sorely in need of bear boxes. Hopefully there’s an installation schedule already in place, because without bear boxes . . .

Anyways, it almost goes without saying that the Camp Hosts for our stay were extremely helpful: kudos to Ed and Jeannie Abrahamson! And special thanks to Ed for that "Chasing-Off-The-Bear" thingie he was able to accomplish.

Yes, yes, and the jump start. Did I mention that Ed is a photographer as well?

Photos: Green Creek—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bear Stories

Well, hmmm . . . let me lean back in my chair and think a bit.

As I recall, my first bear story goes back to the late 1940’s, when I was travelling through Yosemite with Ruth and her son Roger. The exact details have been lost to me, but I do remember a bear on its hind legs pushing on the side of the car where I was sitting, and me trying mightily to roll the window up. I think that this was part of a photo-op because there used to be a now-vanished picture taken by Roger of the front of his Ford with the bear leaning against the side.

We would then have to skip to the 1960’s. It was the end of the season in Tuolumne Meadows and I and my 1953 Plymouth had the campground virtually to ourselves. I decided to sleep outside. Late at night I heard someone walking through my camp. What an inconsiderate oaf! I thought. Of course, the mighty crash of my aluminum cookset hitting the ground came soon after. After what seemed like an eternity of struggling with my sleeping bag zipper, I jumped up, only to have my pants drop down to the ground. Yanking up my pants, I circled around to the Plymouth, got in and stayed there the rest of the night.

There have been other bear stories, and I guess that you can tell by now that I have a new one to add to the collection.

August 2, 2008, Saturday, 2:15 AM, Green Creek Campground: Hali and I have put our ice chests into the camper shell and covered them up, as per instructions and are now sound asleep. You guessed it. Slam! Bang! Instant wakefulness.

"Oh, wonderful," I groaned. I scrambled for my flashlight, got the tent door partially open, shot the light out to see . . . yup, a big bear form, one of the ice chests on the ground with the upper camper shell door flipped open. Mr. Bear stared at me a minute, then went back to his booty. Crunch! Munch!

We started to dither: the thing was . . . he had already gotten to our food. We didn’t want to put ourselves in the position of coming between a bear and his food. It was at that particular moment that Ed, the Camp Host, wandered by. Ed was up because apparently the bear had been making his rounds of the other camp sites. As it turned out, Ed was familiar with the bear and was able to chase him off.

That left us to do some more dithering as well as clean up the mess. Hali got out a trash bag; most of the ice chest’s contents had to be tossed, of course. So there went our Trader Joe camembert, our precooked bacon, our plans for a nice Eggs Benedict breakfast. However, even that late, I was able to grasp the fact that the Diet Coke can with the bear claw puncture would make a really nifty souvenir. And here’s the amazing thing: no damage to either the truck or to the ice chest! Thanks, Mr. Bear!

Next morning I got up as soon as it turned light, and did an Errol Morris reconstruction/re-enactment of the scene, a "Tundra Tableau."

Photos: Tundra Tableau—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Diet Coke with Bear Claw Puncture—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hike to East Lake

We hiked to East Lake starting from the Green Creek Campground trailhead . . . a hike of some magnitude!

A little of everything: peaks and clouds, treacherous stream crossings, gorgeous and plentiful wildflowers, and the ever-beautiful East Lake. (Someday I must go to West Lake, to be sure.) Our route was blessedly free of mosquitos (for the most part.)

We left at 8 AM, back by 2 PM. Whoa! Great time!

Photos: Clouds, Rocks, Manzanita—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Stream Crossing—Sierra Nevada, 2008; Tiger Lily—Sierra Nevada, 2008; East Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Genoa & Bridgeport

We drove from Lake Tahoe over Kingsbury Grade to our campsite on Green Creek in the Sierra, passing though Genoa, Nevada and Bridgeport on the way.

Genoa is a historic town with a nicely landscaped park, a museum (not open yet) and so forth. I liked the sideways light hitting this porch.

I stopped for a six-pack of Tecate at Buster’s in Bridgeport (where I saw this house next to the parking lot), then drove to our campsite.

Photos: Porch—Genoa, Nevada, 2008; Blue House—Bridgeport, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wooden Door, Nylon Cord

I saw this while hiking with Molly, George, Kate and Hali on the way to Grass Lake, west of Fallen Leaf Lake.

There’s something a little . . . interesting about this photo. I think that the newish nylon cord contrasts nicely with the weathered wood, as well as being an interesting compositional element. Yes, that's exactly what I think.

I took another photo on the way back, but by then the sun had come around and the lighting was too harsh.

Photo: Wooden Door, Nylon Cord—Sierra Nevada

Monday, August 4, 2008

Angora Fire

Molly and George drove us to this overlook featuring a view of the destruction caused by the Angora Fire. There was considerable smoke in the air as well, adding to the general sense of devastation.

Photo: Angora Fire—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Hali and I stayed for a few days last week with Molly, George and Kate at Fallen Leaf Lake (adjacent to Lake Tahoe.) The first morning came complete with picturesque clouds, lake reflections and George’s orange kayak.

I myself did not venture out in the kayak, though Hali and Kate did.

Photo: Kayak—Fallen Leaf Lake, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dog & Mt. Tam

Taken in San Francisco, looking north towards Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpais.

Photo: Dog & Mt. Tamalpais—San Francisco, 2006

Friday, August 1, 2008

. . . from the archives #20: Cows in Snow—Utah, 1996

A late season snow storm overtook me while I was driving to New Mexico. Didn’t get out of the truck for this shot.

Photo: Cows in Snow—Utah, 1996