When Mike walked into the cafe he was greeted by Jacqueline, a trail companion from his falling-off-the-horse trail ride! Photo of her on a stream crossing taken during the ride. She had lost her camera on that ride, had bought another one, and then had that one go missing as well. She'll just have to get another one, that's all.
Also in the cafe: Kyhlei. (Mike had her spell her name more than once.) She was going to go to the Bishop Tri-County fair on Labor Day!
After a long downwards slog back to Agnew Meadows Mike decided to participate in that quintessential John Muir Trail through-hiker experience: a hamburger at the Reds Meadows Cafe.
Even through he wasn't a through-hiker. But that's not the point. The point is that the hamburger was very good! Now, maybe Mike's diet of freeze-dried meals had something to do with his appreciation of the burger, but still . . .
Unfortunately, Mike doesn't have a good "hamburger memory" so he can't compare this to Bartel's.
Mike had been noticing the rosy outlines of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak as he squinted out from his tent in the early morning hours. So he talked himself into getting up before dawn, donning his Patagonia Micro Puff jacket and tottering on down to the granite bluff overlooking the meadow. Sunrise seemed forever in coming, but it finally did.
"It was so hot Monday that it broke the all-time record
— and the weatherman's thermometer.
The National Weather Service's thermometer for downtown Los Angeles headed into
uncharted territory at 12:15 p.m. Monday, reaching 113 degrees for the first
time since records began being kept in 1877.
Shortly after that banner moment, the temperature dipped
back to 111, and then climbed back to 112. Then at 1 p.m., the thermometer
The weather service office in Oxnard rushed an electronics technician 60
miles southeast to the USC campus to repair the thermometer, which is actually
a highly sensitive wire connected to electronic equipment. Because of the
snafu, officials said it's possible Monday's temperature actually was hotter
than 113 — but they might never know.
For meteorologists who cover a region sometimes mocked for
its lack of weather, the record was met with great excitement. They figured it
would be hot, with the mercury hitting around 108 or 109, but they didn't quite
expect that an all-time record would be topped."
September 27, 2010: To celebrate it being so hot Mike headed for the beach (not
suspecting that it would be the hottest day), coming up with this festive,
posterized version of the Santa Monica
On his rest day following his big day hike Mike was sitting on a log eating his lunch when he was greeted by the local wilderness ranger. She was out with a shovel dismantling old fire rings (fires aren't allowed anymore in the area). She and Mike chit-chatted a bit, Mike getting some interesting tidbits:
—her main concern is enforcing the ban on camping in meadows. Those wanting to climb Mt. Ritter are hiking up to the higher meadows and camping there, a no-no.
—she and Mike have the same Big Agnes tent. There is a serious problem with the zipper. (Will require a separate post.)
—during the height of summer, the area can hardly be regarded as wilderness. She has to spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning up toilet paper.
—this is her sixth season as a ranger, but it's strictly a temporary position. She's taking classes towards a Psych degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.
What else? Oh yes, her first name is Keturah. Biblical!
From Garnet Lake it actually wasn't that hard to reach Thousand Island Lake, first passing by Ruby Lake, a smallish lake fronted by pine trees, patchs of snow reflecting in the wind-dappled surface.
When Mike finally arrived at Thousand Island Lake the sun was more or less overhead. He took some routine "I was there" pix, but conditions weren't ideal. The mountain in the photo is Banner Peak, with Mt. Ritter looming just behind it.
This year Mike is using a new Gregory Baltoro backpack.
Quick review: 1) He went to a size small this time (he's been measured on the line between medium and small.) That seemed to work. At least, the pack can't keep sliding down after a certain point is reached. 2) It weighs slightly more than Mike would like. But this is offset, somewhat, by the better fit. 3) Adding to the overall weight, but adding to the functionality, there are three exterior pockets. Mike found these to be very useful!
After zig-zagging up switchbacks, passing through mountain meadows and being passed by numerous CCC members, Mike finally reached a crest, then headed down towards the extraordinary Garnet Lake. Luckily, it was early enough that the sun was still coming in at an angle.
Quite, quite nice. Mike managed to remember to take several panoramas, a representative one is shown here.
Photo: Garnet Lake, Ritter & Banner—Sierra Nevada, 2010
Mike left his campsite early in the morning for a day hike on the John Muir Trail. After he came out into the open, he noticed the early morning sun lighting up Ritter & Banner and casting long shadows.
Some very picturesque junipers on the switchbacks, as well.
. . . that is, the California Conservation Corps. A CCC group was camping near Mike, as evidenced at times by their hooting and hollering during their paddleboard competition. They were putting in full days' work, at altitude, doing heavy-duty trail maintenance. And, they had to hike (miles, in some cases) to their job site carrying large and cumbersome tools.
Somehow, even with their loads as handicaps, they had no trouble catching and passing Mike.
Last year Hali and Mike visited Lake Ediza via horseback. One issue, though, was that the trip wasn't photographically ideal. For one thing, Mike had to take a smaller camera (Canon G9) with the disadvantages that come with a smaller sensor. The biggest issue was the mid-day arrival. Noontime, and the sun being directly overhead, meant no shadows and flat lighting: very boring, photographically speaking.
So for this trip, Mike vowed to get there early and with a larger camera (Nikon D90.) In this instance (lake in the foreground, Minarets in the background) early enough to get some shadows as well as some neat reflections. This photo is a photomerge of two separate (top and bottom) exposures.
Recently my Canon G9 has been showing some signs of wear: no wonder, since it's been banging around in my daypack on a daily basis (when not being pressed into service on Sierra trail rides) since I purchased it for the Japan trip. One issue is that one of the neck strap attachment points has broken off, thus requiring a lanyard to be used as a neck strap all the time.
As a replacement, I decided to try a Panasonic Lumix LX5. Reasons: wide-angle lens (24mm equiv.), small and light-weight, and good image quality. You'll recall that I've been interested in Panasonic ever since they announced a "micro-four-thirds" partnership with Olympus. Since Panasonic's LX3 has gotten extremely good reviews I felt relatively safe ordering the LX5 from B&H.
So: package from B&H arrives on Monday, 10:30 AM. Package is opened and battery extracted along with the charger. Battery charged (2 hours approx.). After charging, battery is inserted into camera and the time and date are set as prompted by the LCD screen.
Ah well, I guess that we should cut to the chase: the wee LX5 has now been sent back to B&H. Their return policy allows for 15 days of usage, but I only needed one afternoon.
1) Image quality. So . . . it was OK. Not bad! But nothing to write home about. The 24mm wide-angle was nice . . . and the higher ISOs are supposed to be good. I never got to that part.
2) Small & light-weight. The LX5, of course, is what it is. I have small hands, so I was somewhat mystified to discover that I found it too small and light-weight. The controls on the back are tiny, requiring fingernail presses to utilize. I found the overall camera so small that it took an effort to remember to use the neck strap. It's amusing that some users are complaining that it's too big (compared to Canon's S95.)
3) Files. My outdated Photoshop CS3 can't read the LX5's RAW files: they have to be converted to Adobe's DNG files. OK. I knew that. What I didn't know is that the (Quicktime) video files are unreadable by Movie Maker (my free Windows program) . . . they also have to be converted.
At this last discovery I decided to return the camera. Of course, I really don't take that many videos (just now and then for the blog) but, come on, I can't be converting everything! And of course, there's the all-important ergonomic issue.
(So: why didn't I order the Canon G9 replacement, the G12? Because it's not available yet. The G12 had just been announced and I wanted a good small camera for an upcoming trip. I might have to wait, though. It's clear that the G12's larger size is not that important to me.)
A few miles past Shadow Lake is a trail junction: right is the John Muir Trail heading north towards Yosemite; the left hand option takes one to Lake Ediza.
Mike turns left and a few minutes later he ascends a rocky promontory and the Rain Trip Meadow comes into view. Following Kay's 1989 lead he climbs a slight hill away from the meadow and finds the campsite just as he had remembered it. Perfectly legal (far enough away from the creek) and with a fine view of Shadow Creek, its rapids able to be heard quite clearly.