Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Start of Wisdom

It's Halloween!

Photo: The Start of Wisdom—Los Angeles, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bass Pro Interior

Verrry impressive. Kinda has the thematic feel of the Market of Choice. Plus, there are products that you never knew existed!

Photos: Bass Pro Interior—Central California, 2010; Scouting Camera at Bass Pro—Central California, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bass Pro Outdoor World

Great new stopping point on the way to (or coming back from) Yosemite, just off of highway 120 in Manteca: the Bass Pro Outdoor World. Their focus is mainly on hunting and fishing, I'd say.

Photos: Bass Pro Outdoor World—Central California, 2010; Bass Pro Labor Day Schedule—Central California, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red's Meadows People

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!

Photos: Jacqueline—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Jacqueline & Kyhlei, Red's Meadows Cafe—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Red's Meadows Cafe

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.

Photo: Red's Meadows Cafe—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


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.

Photo: Sunrise, Mt. Ritter & Banner Peak—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Unicorn Blogging

Great LED extravaganza! Very cool.

My public has been clamoring for a unicorn shot, so here it is. Hope you're happy!

Photo: Unicorn—Marin County, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hottest Day Ever

"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 stopped working.

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."

L.A. Times

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 pier.

Photo: Pier—Santa Monica, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Melrose Avenue #23: Free Humanity #1

Early morning.

Photo: Free Humanity #1—Los Angeles, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


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!

Photo: Keturah—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day Hike (4): Hike Back

The hike back to camp was a weary slog. Once Mike went below timberline the trail became one of those interminable descents.

Still, though. Mike did happen to notice some nice plant life just off the trail.

Photos: Flowers—Sierra Nevada, 2010; New Growth—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day Hike (3): Ruby & Thousand Island Lakes

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.

Photos: Ruby Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Banner Peak, Thousand Island Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


As it meanders through the meadow, Shadow Creek widens into a series of reflecting ponds. Mike took several pix, but somehow never quite captured the essence of the scene.

Photos: Trees (Reflections)—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Trees (Reflections)—Sierra Nevada, 201

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Cat Blogging

Another shot of the stable cat (there are actually many stable cats), this time posterized to give it a slightly psychedelic look.

Photo: Cat—Marin County, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gregory Baltoro Backpack

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!

So, no whining as in years past.

Photo: Gregory Baltoro Backpack—Point Reyes, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Melrose Avenue #22: Bankrupt Slut

Alternate blog title could be "Healthcare."

But it's not as catchy.

Yikes, check out this cool blog.

Photo: Bankrupt Slut—Los Angeles, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day Hike (2): Garnet Lake

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day Hike (1): Self-Portrait & Juniper

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.

Photos: Ritter & Banner, Self-Portrait—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Juniper—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

False Hellebore, Lake Ediza #3

Another two-shot photo (separate top and bottom pix). Plus: reflections! Wow!

Photo: False Hellebore, Lake Ediza—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tree, Lake Ediza Trail

Heading on back to camp from Lake Ediza, Mike couldn't help but notice his favorite tree from 1989, still there.

Seen above at two different times of the day.

Photos: Tree (vertical)—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Tree (Horizontal)—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Dog Blogging

"Dinky," the Reds Meadows' toy Australian Shepherd! Very cute . . . hanging out around the cafe.

Photo: Dinky—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canon G12

"I have to say, I recieved my G12 a few days ago, and while its a great camera, there's no way I could see this being a 'portable alternative' to an SLR. Its just too big lol."

—comment on dpreview Canon Forum

I too, received my Canon G12 a few days ago so here's a photo. Oh yes: the Canon and my Toyo-Field 4x5. I guess that the Canon's being too big is somewhat relative.

Too early for any kind of write-up. At first I was having a problem with the JPGs not showing up in Photoshop, but I've gotten that figured out.

And, as I mentioned in the LX5 entry remarks, the G12's video files are also in the .mov format, requiring a conversion process before use. That I don't get.

Also seen in the photo is a non-Canon neck strap from Op/Tech.

UPDATE: Later (2011) thoughts are here.

Photo: Canon G12 & Toyo-Field 4x5—Marin County, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Bikes In This Area

Espresso machine seen in Stinson Beach last month.

Photo: No Bikes In This Area—Marin County, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lake Ediza #2

Back at Lake Ediza for lunch, views of the Minarets on the left, Ritter and Banner on the right.

And of course, the ubiquitous false hellebores, backlit.

Photos: Tree & Lake Ediza—Sierra Nevada, 2010; False Hellebores—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Iceberg Lake

Charis Wilson described Iceberg Lake in 1937: "there it was; a little lake with cakes of ice and snow floating over its inky water." 

Thanks to the CCC the path to Iceberg Lake, once overgrown (in places) and eroded (in places) is now a legitimate trail.

The only problem is that there are now no icebergs in Iceberg Lake. I wonder why.

The pond near the outlet just before the plunge down towards Lake Ediza is very pretty, however.

Photos: Iceberg Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Outlet, Iceberg Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


. . . 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.

Photo: CCC Workers—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lake Ediza #1 (A.M.)

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.

Photo: Lake Ediza—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Coyote Blogging

Seen in the meadow just below my campsite. It sensed some approaching backpackers and was gone.

Photo: Coyote—Sierra Nevada, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Panasonic Lumix LX5

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.)

Photo: Panasonic Lumix LX5—Marin County, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010


In 2008 Hali and Mike were given amulets from Mie's son in Kanazawa. Ever since then they have adorned our daypacks, except when Mike finds it necessary to switch his to his backpack.

One wonders, could this little fellow be a representation of Daruma? Mike would like to think so, although on close inspection it's hard to tell . . . hm, maybe not.

Photo: Amulet on Backpack—Point Reyes, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Way of the Geezer: Lake Ediza Trail, 2010 (#4)

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.

Photos: Rain Trip Meadow—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Tent—Sierra Nevada, 2010