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Sequoia National Park

I love trees. I love big, massive trees even more. And it’s a bonus if my entire life will amount to less than 2% of it’s lifespan. To stand in the presence of such living things is humbling. And the giant sequoia trees are truly majestic in their immense presence on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The General Sherman Tree. The largest tree on Earth.

The General Sherman Tree. The largest tree on Earth.

Sequoia National Park is home to the General Sherman tree, which is the single largest tree on Earth measured by the sheer volume of its trunk. I do assert that “General Sherman” is a horrible name for such a tree, given Sherman’s role in the Indian Wars, but I digress. The tree is an awe-inspiring sight. A sign indicates you are proportionally the same standing before this tree as a mouse is standing before a 6 foot tall human.

Gorgeous Sierra scenery

Gorgeous Sierra scenery

The Sun flares through a hole in a Sequoia

The Sun flares through a hole in a Sequoia

Sequoias are just magnificent trees. They are truly an American tree, and should have been made our national tree along with other redwoods.

Marble Fork, Kaweah River

Marble Fork, Kaweah River

Redwoods in the Giant Forest

Redwoods in the Giant Forest

More Redwoods in the Giant Forest

More Redwoods in the Giant Forest

Our trip to Sequoia was not all about flora. We did see our share of fauna there as well, including a couple of deer and no less than 6 different black bears.

Buck along the Generals Highway

Buck along the Generals Highway

Black bear in the Giant Forest from close range

Black bear in the Giant Forest from close range

This black bear was right in the middle of the tourist-centric Giant Forest. Just a couple hundred feet from the General Sherman tree. It looked to be somewhat juvenile, and was foraging for insects in various logs while a crowd of people acted as bear paparazzi just 15 feet away.

The Great Western Divide from Moro Rock

The Great Western Divide from Moro Rock

Since it was a nice day, we headed up Moro Rock to check out the view from its granite dome. From Moro Rock we could see Little Baldy, a nearby peak we would summit later that day.

Little Baldy as seen from Moro Rock

Little Baldy as seen from Moro Rock

Moro Rock as seen from Little Baldy

Moro Rock as seen from Little Baldy

Great Western Divide from Little Baldy

Great Western Divide from Little Baldy

Layers of LIght

Layers of LIght

Fellow Hikers on the summit of Little Blady

Fellow Hikers on the summit of Little Blady

Sunset from Little Baldy's summit

Sunset from Little Baldy's summit

Big Baldy as seen from Little Baldy

Big Baldy as seen from Little Baldy

The trek up Little Baldy was nice. It’s not a long hike and the scenic rewards are well worth it. It’s nice away from the much more touristy areas like Moro Rock. Looking at Big Baldy from here, I thought that next time I should have climbed to the top of that as well. Big Baldy is a similar hike in length as Little Baldy. I’ll save that for a future trip.

In Crystal Cave

In Crystal Cave

Sequoia is not all trees and mountains. It actually has a large number of caves as well. One of these caves has been partially made accessible to park visitors by guided tour. This allows everyone to get a taste of what it is like to explore such places. It was a nice trip by flashlight.

The General Sherman Tree

The General Sherman Tree

Finally, one last look at the General Sherman tree. This picture was taken with the Canon Tilt/Shift 24mm lens which allows fine control over the focal plane. This is what has made the in focus area in this picture to be shifted. Many of the pictures I took on this trip were with this incredibly sharp lens, though most did not utilize the special talents that this lens offers. I look forward to returning to this magical park. I am once again made to be incredibly grateful that we have the National Park System.

September 24, 2010 - 10:35 am

Gritty - Beautiful pictures Kurt! Definitely my favorite National Forest that I have been to so far, the trees are just amazing! Last time I was there I went for a trail run and came within 15 feet of a mother bear and her cub. I saw the cub and didn’t realize mom was on the otherside of the trail, thankfully my husband saw mom and got my attention to stop, it was awesome though!!

Gallery Showing

I’m way overdue in posting this, but there is a large selection of my prints on display at the Langhinrichs gallery at the Fort Wayne, Indiana Unitarian Universalist church. The prints are on display every Sunday through mid-late October. Stop by and check out some of my prints in person!
5310 Old Mill Road
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46807

Old Baldy

In preparation for an ascent of Mount Whitney, I twice went up the summit of the local 10,000 footer, Mount San Antonio, also known as Mount Baldy or Old Baldy. This is a nice fairly demanding hike that helped me get into shape for the much larger climb I would be doing in a few months. On both trips, I brought my photo gear to capture beautiful images along the way and also just to have some extra weight for conditioning.

Old Baldy destroying clouds

Old Baldy destroying clouds

Of particular note on the first trip were the crazy cloud patterns. I watched as clouds passed over the summit and were seemingly destroyed by the crazy air currents circulating overhead. It reminded me of a photo by the famous Galen Rowell called Split Rock and Cloud (you can see a copy at amazon on a poster here). Having seen a print of this picture in person, I had always pondered the clouds, and even thought they were somehow unreal. But, here on the slopes of Mount Baldy I was witnessing the same phenomenon right before my eyes. I set up the camera on my tripod and captured a little video of the phenomenon.




The wind and cloud patterns also produced a couple of UFOs over Mount Harwood.

UFOs over Mount Harwood

UFOs over Mount Harwood

Crazy Clouds

Crazy Clouds

Looking north-ish from Old Baldy's summit

Looking north-ish from Old Baldy's summit

A Mountain Moment

A Mountain Moment

On the second trip up I captured this couple sitting by the Sierra Club Ski Hut enjoying the mountain environment.

Mountain wildflowers and creek

Mountain wildflowers and creek

The second ascent also yielded some nice wildflower displays

On the Devil's Backbone

On the Devil's Backbone

And finally a quick shot of the Devil’s Backbone section of the trail from the ski lift. Climbing Baldy allows for a diverse selection of mountain landscapes, and a big broad summit where you can hang out and eat lunch. It’s a strenuous enough workout to help get you into mountaineering shape and I will be going back again and again next summer for sure.

Some Hot Air

Heat

Heat

Let there be light! At the end of July, the town of Santa Paula, California hosted the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival. Like many people, I had never actually seen a hot air balloon up close. They were always things that I saw in the distance while driving on the highway or in pictures that other people had taken. Driving up on a Friday evening I took up my photo gear and headed into this unknown territory. It turned out to be really amazing.

View from the inside

View from the inside

Essentially, the event has a large field in which the balloons set up. Each balloon is rolled out onto the ground and carefully unfolded. To start the inflation process, large fans start blowing into the balloons on their side to get some air in there. Here you see the view of the inside of a balloon that is being inflated by fans. Once the ballon gets enough air from the fans, the basket is tilted and the burners can be fired. This is what you see in the first picture. I had no idea the burners produced such massive flames.

Bringing on the heat

Bringing on the heat

Like moths to the flame

Like moths to the flame

Going up

Going up

Mushroom cloud of flame

Mushroom cloud of flame

The main event of the evening was called the “Evening Glow.” For this event, the balloon captains fire their burners in unison to illuminate all the balloons at once. It was really quite a sight.

Evening glow I

Evening glow I

Evening glow II

Evening glow II

Standing in awe

Standing in awe

Finally, when it’s time to pack up one of the balloon captains flew his balloon into the trailer (with the help of several people holding it down). After this they would pull the balloon down with ropes so that it laid down straight to be folded up until the next time.

Flying into the trailer

Flying into the trailer

It was a really fun event to shoot. The light levels were really challenging and in every direction there was something to shoot.

September 8, 2010 - 11:04 am

Kristen - These are gorgeous, Kurt! I love the illuminated balloons against that blue, blue sky.

A single captured Perseid

Perseid Meteor over Temple Crag

Perseid Meteor over Temple Crag

The blog hasn’t seen much updating lately, but that’s because I’ve been out taking in tons of new material! A most recent example is this shot from a backpacking expedition to the Big Pine Lakes area in the Eastern Sierras. Here is a 30-minute long exposure of the incredibly beautiful Temple Crag. Despite pointing my camera in almost the exact opposite direction from the constellation of Perseus, the point from which Perseid meteors seem to originate from, I managed to capture one stray behind this striking mountain. The sole vertical line on the left side is the captured Perseid.

August 20, 2010 - 9:39 am

Freddy Oropeza - Nice Pic, you should enter one of these in the Canon in the Parks contest.

August 20, 2010 - 10:34 am

admin - Oooh thanks for reminding me of that. I will try not to miss the deadline this year. This pic unfortunately won’t qualify for that contest since it’s in the John Muir Wilderness, and not a park.

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