Friday, September 23, 2011

Minaret Vista

Panorama of Minarets, Mt. Ritter and Mt. Banner from Minaret Vista

This was my second visit to the Eastern Sierra this year. At the invitation of Dick and Jan, I joined the Fraschettis with his brother Dave and wife, Lynn, for 5 fantastic days on the east slope.

The Fraschetti's rented a unit at the Snow Creek Condos in Mammoth Lakes. We spent the next 5 days hiking into some awesome canyons searching for waterfalls. We were hoping to catch some early fall colors but were about 7-10 days too early.

This photo-journal blog chronicles my latest trip starting with pics of the Ritter Range at sunrise viewed from Minaret Vista above Mammoth Lakes.

Day hike blog entries include:

-Lundy Creek Canyon
-McGee Creek Canyon
-Parker Creek Canyon

Click on pic once/twice for enlarged view

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Close-up of Minarets (above and below)

Mt. Banner - 12,936'

Mt. Ritter - 13,143' and Mt. Banner - 12,936'

Similar view a couple minutes earlier when peaks are bathed in alpen-glow

San Joaquin Mt - 11,601' - to the far right of Ritter and Banner

A few other photos taken over next couple days:

Boundary Peak at 13,147' is the highest peak in Nevada. Photo taken from Hwy 120.

Inyo Crater (above and below)

The craters were created by catastrophic eruption (steam explosion when hot magma contacted underground water) emitting ash and pumice throughout the Long Valley Caldera about 500-600 years ago.

The Inyo Craters are located just north of the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Blue water caused by leaching minerals

Next to the blue pool crater stands another crater with waters of a different color

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Lundy Lake Hike

The view toward Lundy Lake Canyon below majestic mountains

Lundy Lake (above and below)

It's Sept. 18th and the trees are just starting to turn color

Lundy Lake, a popular fishing spot

Remnants of old mining town

Passing a small pond on the way to the trail-head

Click on pic once/twice for enlarged view

First major waterfall as we climb up the beautiful canyon

Looking back down the canyon where we started the hike. Lundy Lake barely visible in far horizon.

Passing another pond with very clear waters

The colorful canyon wall

A giant bonsai tree

Dick and Lynn marching up the canyon

One of the side canyon waterfalls

Passing another pond created by beaver dam.

Hiking through a dense aspen forest

The aspens were huge

Graffiti on aspen trunks

Lynn standing amidst beautiful blue wildflowers

As we ascend further up the canyon, a side-canyon fall (above and below) feeds into the main stream

Dick standing near the beginning of the main waterfalls

The stream cascades down the mountain

About 2 miles up the trail, we encounter the major falls

Dave and Lynn at the base of the biggest fall

Late afternoon sun casts neat shadows on the canyon walls

Returning past shimmering blue beaver pond

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McGee Creek Canyon Hike

According to Dave Henry, the Sac Bee photo-journalist who chronicles the annual fall color columns, McGee Creek Canyon is the #1 place in California to view fall colors. We were probably a week too early but the canyon is spectacular none the less.

The canyon are full of aspens, birch and cottonwoods and surrounded by towering mountains. One could imagine how beautiful this place would be when the trees are in prime color.

Walking into the canyon swaths with aspens

Brown veins streak across the white mountain

A copper birch tree, a very rare specimen in the Eastern Sierra has bright red branches similar to a manzanita.

We were the only hikers in the canyon

The view back down the canyon with the White Mountains across the valley

Our destination, a horsetail waterfall located near the back of the canyon

Horsetail Falls

The aspens were just beginning to turn

Tumbling McGee Creek

We reach the base of Horsetail

Dick, Dave and Lynn

Lunch time

The ground cover is beginning to turn

Rabbit Bush were in full bloom

Lower McGee Creek and early fall colors

On the drive back down the canyon, we stop to take in the views of Crowley Lake

The view north - Hwy 395 and Mono Craters (in horizon on left)

Close-up of Mono Craters with my 400 mm lens

Two views of White Mountain - 14,252' - covered with early season snow

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