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Us 395 - Lee Vining To Lone Pine

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In April I took a short, 4 day, road trip to the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range to photograph some of the natural beauty that spring can bring to that part of the world. My first stop was at Mono Lake where I explored the northern shore and camped at the end of a dirt road. The night was cold, the moon was full, and the coyote's howled, it was all good. In any event, I thought I would create a thread to share some of the photos taken on that short journey.

 

U.S. 395 was the road I followed through the area but many, make that almost all, of the photos required getting off of the highway for a short time. Mono Lake can be seen from the highway and for many it's just a place to pull out on the side of the road and enjoy the view for a few minutes. To really get a feel for how unique the lake is you need to walk the shoreline with the alkali flies scattering in the sand before you and hear the coyotes howling at the full moon.

These photos and more can be found on my blog page.



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More to come.

 

Roadhound

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Rick,

 

As always spectacular photography. It sure makes me want to make a visit to the area. You know my history and I won't bore others, but it brings back many memories! I strongly recommend your blog as well.

 

Did you get north of LeeVining or south as far as the June Lake Loop.....they go back over 50 years for me...and about 100 for the family..as you know..

 

Thanks greatly for sharing!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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Dave,

I do remember your history with the area and it was something that crossed my mind while I was out there. I recall some of the old black and white photos that you have previously posted. The area continues to change and it surprised me how much of 395 south of Lee Vining is now a 4 lane highway.

On this trip my route to Mono Lake was from the north having passed over the Sierra's on CA 88 and CA 89. The descent on CA 89 down onto 395 was pretty spectacular and nerve wracking at the same time. The one thing that may have been scarier than the descent onto 395 was the lack of snow in the Sierra's in mid April. I chose the route because I didn't think snow would be a problem but I was amazed at how dry the mountains were, it looked like summer. I did make one stop before getting to Mono Lake which was in Bridgeport and paid $4.92 a gallon for gas, highest I have ever paid for a gallon of gas.

I did venture further south on 395 and will be posting some of those photos in the coming days\weeks.

Rick

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Terrific! I'm really looking forward to more of your photos and comments. Always great stuff!! No body does it better!

 

I haven't been down 395 in too many years...maybe 8 or 10. Hard to believe the snow scarcity. Obviously it doesn't bode well for summer water and fire issues. And it is tough on flora and fauna.

 

I know it is fun to have the wife and family along, but you can go places you might not take them when you go solo....always trade offs!! And I love Bridgeport. I recall the sport shop & grocery which I hope is still there from 53 years ago!!! I also recall a night at the Bridgeport Hotel with my father where I photographed a mountain lion they had in a cage beside the hotel....but they have always had the highest gas prices. It paid to drive to Topaz Lake for fuel.

 

I know the highway has changed, but not the mountains!! And if anything Mono Lake is looking healthier.

 

I really appreciate you taking the time to share.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Dave,


Was the Sport Shop and Grocery on the north side of town just before you leave Bridgeport? I was in there a couple of years ago while we were passing through on our way to Utah but I noticed this time around that it was closed.


Mono Lake does look like it is healthy. At least its not Owens Lake. The water level is roughly 12 feet lower than it should be but the last two years with a low snowpack hasn't helped things. The land bridge to Negit Island has not yet reappeared but I suspect that it may by the end of the summer or next year for sure if the Sierra's have another dry winter.


Below are the next set of photos to finish of the Mono Lake part of the journey.


As always they can also be found on my blog.



Blue Moonrise. This was taken from the north shore of the lake not far from where I camped for the night. The lava dome in the center is Negit Island.


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Night time on Mono Lake. The moon was full and woke me up at around 3:30 in the morning. Instead of moving to the other side of my truck bed and back to sleep I instead drove around to the south side of the lake and shot the tufas using nothing but moonlight.


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Sunrise. A great way to start the day.


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Next stop: the site of the 1871 incident where a Wells Fargo agent was shot while rounding up a group of escaped prisoners.


Roadhound

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Rick,

 

The last photo actually brought tears to my eyes.....beautiful....but I have recovered :) Wonderful image! Maybe it was just the thought that the sporting goods and grocery had bitten the dust...gees, I hate to think that! But they were on the north side just east of the courthouse.

 

Do you suppose maybe the world changes a little in 50 years!!! Of course I haven't :)

 

Dave

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Dave,

 

The good news is that I think we are talking about different stores along the main drag in Bridgeport. The store I was referring to was on the west side of the courthouse. The bad news is that I cannot confirm that the sporting goods and grocery store that was there for you 50+ years ago still exists. I would have been a toddler at that time and I can tell you for certain that things do change.

 

Rick

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Next installment takes us further south on 395 past June Lake and Mammoth Lakes to a small body of water known as Convict Lake. The lake is nestled in the mountains about 3 miles east of 395 and known for its fishing. The name really doesn't match the lakes scenic beauty but there is an interesting story behind the name. Ready the full story HERE.

 

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Roadhound

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You are hitting on all 8 cylinders! I first visited Convict lake in 1957 or 58, which was probably before you were even a gleam in your parents' eyes!

 

I recall the lake as crystal clear, and in an absolutely spectacular setting....as your photo beautifully shows. I was with a buddy and we camped nearby. I doubt we had more that two other campers anywhere around....things do change! It is arrogant to say I had the best of it, but I think maybe I did!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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Beautiful pictures! I've only driven this potion of 395 once, on January 1, 1994 (over 20 years--wow!), from Carson City down to Mono Lake and Bodie. There was no shortage of snow that winter. Bodie looked like the most desolate place in the world, with snow on the ground and the total lack of trees. But what a neat place to poke around in--it looks just as it did when the last residents departed back in the 1940s.

Mono Lake looks great, glad it has recovered from it's near-death experience!

Edited by mga707

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Thanks MGA,

 

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Mono Lake has recovered. It's definitely better than it has been in the past but a complete recovery will be measured in geologic time. I compared the water level in some of the photos that I took 7 years ago and the water is now 2 to 3 feet lower than it was back then and there will be minimal runoff from the mountains this year with lots of evaporation between now the next chance for snowfall. The marsh areas have been severely damaged because of both the low water level and the diversion of the creek runoff that should flow through them. Also, the forested areas that once existed are now completely gone. The more I read about it the more I realize that it's not just the level of the water that's important but also the areas around the lake that feed into it, the entire ecosystem. The whole basin that the lake sits in needs to be healthy for the lake itself to be healthy.

 

I think Bodie is a neat place as well but didn't go there on this trip because it was still closed for the winter even though there was no snow to be seen.

 

Roadhound

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The next chapter in my journey took me off of 395 for a day, through the Inyo Mountains, and into the Eureka Valley. Although it's a 46 mile drive from 395 I feel that the Eureka Eureka Dunes are part of the landscape that makes the US 395 corridor unique. Getting there was not as challenging as I had remembered although the last few miles just before arriving at the dunes was a bit rough.


Blog posting is HERE


Western side of the Eureka Dunes.

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Wildflowers, Eureka Dunes, and the Last Chance Range

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Amazing what can survive in the desert.

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Roadhound

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The plant in the last picture is a common ornamental shrub around here (Tucson)! I think it's a variety of brittlebush.

Are the Eureka Dunes the dunes that are in the northern part of Death Valley National Park?

Never been to that part of the park--they look really cool. Like there should be a camel caravan trekking over them...

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The plant in the last picture is a common ornamental shrub around here (Tucson)! I think it's a variety of brittlebush.

Are the Eureka Dunes the dunes that are in the northern part of Death Valley National Park?

Never been to that part of the park--they look really cool. Like there should be a camel caravan trekking over them...

 

The Eureka Dunes are indeed at the very north end of the park. The first time that I went to the Eureka Dunes we went out the north end of Death Valley near where Ubehebe Crater and Scotty's Castle is. This time around, coming in from Big Pine, was a much easier drive.

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On the way back to 395 from the Eureka Dunes I took a side trip and climbed up into the White Mountains to see the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. The road was closed 2 miles from the grove so I left my truck at the gate and hoofed it up the rest of the way. To get to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest you follow CA 168 to White Mountain Road. Total driving distance is 23 miles but from the top of the mountain you can see 395 in the valley below.

 

The trees in this grove are old. One tree in particular, The Hatch Tree, has been confirmed to be 5063 years old and is the oldest known non-clonal organism.

 

Link to BLOG

 

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Roadhound

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Back on 395 now and heading south just past the small town of Independence. Ironically, 6 miles south of Independence is a place that is testament to how fragile our civil liberties are.

 

Complete blog posting is HERE

 

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Roadhound

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I really liked this blog entry with its lessons in history, botany, and photography. Actually, all of your entries contain lessons in photography.

 

Incidentally, I see that comments on you blog now require logging in. Intentional?

 

On the way back to 395 from the Eureka Dunes I took a side trip and climbed up into the White Mountains to see the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. The road was closed 2 miles from the grove so I left my truck at the gate and hoofed it up the rest of the way. To get to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest you follow CA 168 to White Mountain Road. Total driving distance is 23 miles but from the top of the mountain you can see 395 in the valley below.

 

The trees in this grove are old. One tree in particular, The Hatch Tree, has been confirmed to be 5063 years old and is the oldest known non-clonal organism.

 

Link to BLOG

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Denny, the log in requirement was not intentional but a consequence of trying to stop spam. Thanks for letting me know. I made a change and it should work in the future.

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Denny, the log in requirement was not intentional but a consequence of trying to stop spam. Thanks for letting me know. I made a change and it should work in the future.

 

I thought that might be the case. Looks good now. If half the intellectual energy spent creating and defeating spam were instead devoted to space travel, I'm sure there would be at least one colony and a couple of micro-breweries on Mars today.

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Nearly at the end of this journey. Last stop, Alabama Hills.

 

How often do you get to use the words "biotite monzogranite"?

 

Full blog posting is HERE

 

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Roadhound

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Last posting from this trip. Mobius Arch is probably the most well known of the arches in the Alabama Hills. I found it to be very photogenic so photographed it at sunset, at midnight under the full moon, and sunrise.

 

Blog posting is HERE

 

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Roadhound out

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