PYRAMID LAKE AND MONO LAKE ROAD TRIP March 4-5, 2003
In need of some small little adventure, and to drive up more miles on my car, I chose to make a midweek trip to these two desert lakes. Visits to both, in the winter, sustain my mental health, and offer a chance at some fine photography.
I made some light preparations, and took a few of my Nikon cameras. This proved wise, as I had a memory card failure enroute. My shooting in digital, slide, and print mediums gave me the option of choosing how to preserve my sights of these natural beauties of winter.
Tuesday morning, heading east on Interstate 80, it was refreshing to see the snow. My itinerary brought me to Reno, NV, where again, I took a bargain room rate.
Before, however, I visited the Patagonia Outlet, where I had a jacket repaired from some odd wear, due most likely to some ill-placed velcro. I could afford a new logo organic cotton T, but missed getting a copy of the Nevada Sierra Club newsletter.
Heading north from Sparks, NV, on NV 445, I enjoyed views of Incandescent Rocks and Needle Rock, albeit from afar, then stopped at the Reservation store to contribute my $6 day use fee. A bit further, after a rise in the road, a historic marker and a wide pullout offered a nice view of Pyramid Lake. It was an almost cloudless day, for the most part, so I wouldn't get fine dramatic lighting. Sometimes, the sun breaking through the clouds highlights the Pyramid, the formation that gives this remote lake its name.
Not to be disappointed and go back to Reno, I motored over to the town of Nixon, NV, then headed north on NV 447. Stopping at my little viewpoint, with a benchmark, "HJH 65," I shot a few more photos of the view. I like the sight of the Pah Rah Range, with the lake a shining ribbon (photo above). Pure desolation, to most. However, the vista includes a couple peak tops that I've had the fortune to climb. What is barren to some is my salvation during the winter season, now without the many ski tours that, at one time, were offered by the local Sierra Club, as well as my own private ski mountaineering trips.
Without a great picture, again, I continued north on NV 447. Coming to some tufa towers, formed under an ancient lake, now the dry Winnemucca Lake, I hiked a fraction of a mile to wander about and explore these fine formations. Some petroglyph sites are located somewhere around here, but I don't know where they are. Their location is not publicized since there are those with intent to remove or destroy these examples of art by ancient man.
Finally, it was time to head back. I had thought to drive all the way to Gerlach, NV, and view the Black Rock Desert, but having been there several times climbing peaks, saved the gas (now almost $2/gal.). I headed south for more photo ops, but the sky wasn't cooperating.
After watching the sunset from my 23rd floor room, and then the news, I enjoyed a fine buffet meal, with salads, entrees, and desserts.
Wednesday morning, I awoke early and then zoomed south on U.S. 395. Plenty of snow blanketed the desert peaks, and I began my routine of recording the sights. Passing through Carson City, NV, then Minden/Gardnerville, my face was getting reddened by the bright sun already. The peaks are so familiar, me having made this drive perhaps 200 times, and having climbed most or all of the major highpoints several times.
I was overdressed in three layers, so had to roll the car window down to cool off. Coming to the Bridgeport Valley, the sight of the Sierra Sawtooth Ridge was impressive through my telephoto lens. It would be a great day for ski mountaineering!
Stopping at Mono Lake Vista Point, I used my telephoto lens some more, then motored through Lee Vining, CA. Traffic was low, and I wondered about the effect of the higher price of gas. Driving first to Navy Beach, I sauntered about snapping pictures of the tufa formations.
The sky was bright blue with some puffy clouds. Good bright light, but no drama. I had a time with my old Nikons and digital camera, alternating between the three, having my choice of film or digital. A couple launched their canoe, otherwise, few tourists were about. Some snow on the road had stopped me from getting to the parking, so I did a small loop hike, photographing the sand tufa. I then drove around to the main parking at South Tufa.
Wishing I could pick a better day, I left at about 3 p.m., and got more telephoto shots from Mono Lake Vista Point. Some associates were to ski Boundary Peak this weekend, so I obliged with photos presumably to e-mail. It looked to be good for skiing.
A few stops for pictures of the snowy Sweetwater Mountains, where I have climbed the listed peaks at least three times each, finished most of my photography for the trip. I was able to shoot alpenglow on the Freel Peak massif, but it was nothing spectacular.
I shot 209 digital images, and two rolls apiece of Kodachrome and Kodacolor. No passenger I know would enjoy my many photo stops, so I go alone for these little jaunts. I did try to get a camera section going for the local Sierra Club, but really, vacation photos, albeit all or mostly wilderness trips, are worse than wedding photos for such disinterested people to sit through!
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