Friday, December 25, 2009

The Heavenly Silent Tioga Pass

Merry Christmas!

For today, I wanted to put this video of my drive up Tioga Pass during the summer. Tioga Pass leads one into the eastern side of Yosemite. One must drive up about 3,000 ft. to get to the elelvation of a little less than 10,000. I have memories of my dad driving me up and down this road as a kid. Sometimes it would scare me looking off the side of the road and seeing this big drop off below. I was always worried about the car having a problem and going off the side.

While driving up the pass by itself is usually fun on a sunny day, the conditions on the day I did this were rather "heavenly." I was not sure what I wanted to call this video...the road to heaven...the presence of God...entering the clouds...Tioga Pass. In any case, I sped up the video a bit so everyone looks like they are driving a little faster than people normally do.

Some other time I will talk more about Tioga Pass, but I think you will like this video:

The Heavenly Silent Tioga Pass (Youtube Version)

The Heavenly Silent Tioga Pass (Vimeo Version)

And while I am thinking about it, being Christmas and all, if you are in the mood you can relive last years Christmas series HERE.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A few thoughts on "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"

A few weeks ago I was in church singing this song. Although I am sure a lot of people out there know the story behind it, but I thought it would be appropriate to show the poem the carol is based on and mention a bit of the background to it:

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) penned this poem on December 25th, 1864. He had experienced tragedy with his first wife dying after a miscarriage, then his second wife died a few years before this poem was written after her dress caught on fire, finally, his son Charles had some close runs with death during the America Civil War. He had been shot once in the back near his spine, but fortunately not close enough for him to be paralyzed.

Longfellow came up with this poem during the Christmas season with the American Civil War going on. When reading the poem one can see why a bloody war going on while the carols sung during the Christmas season about "peace on earth and good will towards men" makes a mockery of the season.

While the Christmas season can be a happy one it can be quite painful for many. Be it the wars in the world, economic times, sad memories of the past during the holiday season, loneliness, or the realization that todays expensive gifts are tomorrows junk at garage sales to name a few that cause one to question what the season is all about. While I am not sure the "peace on earth and good will" slogan commonly heard is what the passage in Luke 2:14 is really saying, I think Longfellow's rediscovering of the hope and meaning of Christmas at the end of the poem is right on.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Earthquake Rock at McGee Creek Campground

(GPS: N37 33.865 W118 47.180)

This was a quick side trip I had wanted to do after reading about it Susan Hough's Finding Fault in California. It is near Lake Crowley. I just took the McGee Creek Road off HWY 395 and, after about 5-10 minutes going on a narrow road, came here. In the middle of the following picture you should see what looks like a trail that heads straight up:

What happened was that in June, 1998 there were two earthquakes. They do not know which one produced this, but it was either June 8th or 14th. The boulder, about the size of a small car, came down here and carved into the hillside the faint trail you see in both pictures. It also trashed the road before it reached its final destination in the campground. The road has obviously been repaired.
Check out what they say here under the Hilton Creek Fault Scarp. The magnitude according to this source and the book above was around 5.0-5.3.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Double Indemnity Train Station Location

(GPS: N 34° 07.390 W 118° 15.515)

I have been holding back a bit on movie location posting. I intend to really start doing that again in 2010. I was over at Iverson Ranch and Corriganville again last week trying to figure out what I want to do next. I will explain more on this at the end of the month or near the first of the new year.

This is one that I finished up on the way home last week. It was one of the first ones I intended to do way back when I started up the blog. Actually, I have been to this location lots of times. What was holding me back is I would always have something happen that would either mess up my pictures or video. The pictures below were done on a few different days, and the video is a combination of two days. I call this the Glendale Train Station, but I think officially it is the Glendale Transportation Center.

I do enjoy Film Noir. When I started this blog I was going to do a lot more noir locations, but decided to pursue some of the other stuff I have on here instead. I do have a few others I might do in the future, but noir locations will probably be a bit rare on here. Double Indemnity with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck is a favorite of mine. If you have not seen it, then you must since it is a classic movie of suspense. This train station is a very important part of that movie. Here is where they drive the car in.
The sign above in the movie picture does say "Glendale" even though my capture from the movie is a bit overexposed there. My picture has the same sign, and I am close to where they parked. You can tell there are differences with the station from then and now, but this is it.
To my left (from the above), is where the train comes and goes. This is where Barbara would have led Fred in the movie.
There is a model in the train station. I think the cars are parked a little further to the left of where the sign is.
You can read the wikipedia article on the station here.

My short video on this:

Double Indemnity Train Station Location (Youtube Version)

Double Indemnity Train Station Location (Vimeo Version)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (The Summit)

(GPS: N38 01.470 W119 18 325)

Okay! It is time to wrap this one up.
Like most summits there is usually a bit of wind to deal with. This was the first time I really tried using my HD video recorder on a trip. Learning how to keep my hands as still as possible is something I am having to work out. Pictures are little easier. This is looking back at the ridgeline I was hiking across.
Looking to the northwest was not too exciting with all the smoke. I am not going to post the picture of that direction, but it is very similar to the third picture two blogs back (...and Then Some). This is looking into the west. I was on the border so most of what you see is in Yosemite. Mt. Conness is the high point to the left, and it too is on the Yosemite border.
I should mention that Excelsior summit is really just a heap of rocks. The whole mountain is talus rocks. Looking toward the south you can see Mt. Conness to the right, Mt. Lyell is to the center right, Mt. Dana is the highpoint to the left, and Saddlebag Lake. Saddlebag Lake will show up on another hike I eventually put up in a few months.
This side was still hazy as well so this is the best I would get out of Mono Lake. That is Lundy Lake down below. Burro Lake is to the left.
Dunderberg Mountain, the pass I came, the saddle over the hump.
One picture I had hoped to get is Bridgeport Lake from here. You can barely see it. One can usually see this mountain and the saddle of the hump from down there. At the end of the video, I zoom in from down there to show up here from down there...did that make sense? ;)
Alright, this was a long blog series, but I only do a few mountains a year so I like to show as much as I can. Even with this I held back a lot of pictures and video footage.

The mountain itself is around 12446 ft. elevation. I can not remember how many miles it takes. It seems like it is 5 miles one way.

The ironic thing is that I remember telling my brother on the way down, and during the next week, that I did not care if there was smoke in the sky on this trip. As long as it did not affect me the next time I would be here. This was nothing compared to what I was about to face in August.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and to the rest of the world, have a nice weekend!

The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (The Final Ascent)

It was quite exciting to look over the edge of the ridgeline. Not that there would be any issues of slipping here, but the thought of it was rather scary. I had read that some years back a woman died coming up from the eastern side. If you fall, you fall.
I could see my old friend Mt. Conness. Someday I will have to go back up that mountain.
Another look at Mono Lake.
This was the final ascent. I was really walking at a leisurely pace once I hit the final ridgeline. I wanted to take in the moment. It was somewhat windy, but very relaxing. It was now time to put a little leg into it and finish this hike to the summit off. I will conclude this hike in the next blog.

The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (...and Then Some)

From here I went around the snow. There was no need to cross over it.
This was really the part when I was certain there would be no more obstacles to get to the summit. I turned around and looked back. This is about the point where the video above ends. The final video will continue from this point to the summit.
I looked to my right and the smoky haze was even worse. Keep in mind this was July 3rd and not the fire in Yosemite in August. I was certainly happy to be where I was, but was slightly disappointed that it was not a clear day.

At this point I was making thankful prayers since all doubts I had about not having the energy or possible snow blocking my way were gone. It was just a matter of time now.
As I walked along the ridgeline I could see both Burro Lake and Mono Lake in the distance.

Next up, the final ascent.

The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (Over the Hump...)

We started up the talus slog. I tried to stay on the use dirt trail as much as possible, but at times just went on the talus rocks. It depended on how secure I felt on either. I would say this ascent is about 500 ft. I would go up a couple of steps and then take a breather. On my left, I could see my old friend Mt. Dana in the distance where I did there much of what I was doing here.
On my right, I could see into Green Creek Canyon.
Looking back down to where I came from with Burro Lake on the right.
Once we were over the saddle the situation was not too bad. Getting over it was pain on the legs, but it only took about 20 minutes to overcome.
Now I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be at the final destination. It is probably about an hour more of hiking from here.
I would have to drop down some and then climb up again. It was just like what I had already done.
The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (Heading to the Hump)

(GPS: N38° 02.115 W119° 18.070)
The problem with gettting to what I am calling the "hump" was that there was still a lot of snow from over the pass to the base of the hump. We would end up walking around most of it. We started heading south which would take us higher. We could see some of the higher peaks around. Unfortunately, there was going to be one issue that was going to plague me this hike making it a little less than ideal: haze from smoke. I will come back to this point during the last blog on this hike. We had not heard any news about this so I never did find out what the cause of it was.
Finally, after trying to find some areas through the snowy ice to cut across, we reached the ridgeline. The snow ended here, so we could start heading west (right) again toward the hump.
We especially wanted to avoid the snow here on the ascent. To reach the saddle of the hump we would continue going up the ridgeline.
I continued, but turned around to see Burro Lake. I had heard this is an interesting lake to fish since it is really isolated. In theory, one could climb up from Lundy Canyon on the other side, but if I had to get to it I would just take this trail. A hazy Mono Lake is in the background.
Excelsior Mountain was in clear sight. There are different ways to climb it, but we took the easy way. It looks like it creates two glacier lakes which you can see in the summer when it all melts.
Now for the do or die part of the hike.
It did not help that we wasted 30 minutes off trail an hour earlier. I lost some energy that I could have used here. There were some use trails here, but I was not sure if I should use those climbing up the dirt or go up the talus rock. Neither were very much fun.

The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (The Pass)

(GPS: N38° 02.485 119° 17.700)
At some point we got off trail due to some snow, and that cost us about 30 minutes of extra hiking and some uphill. It was a stupid mistake and should have never happened. We ended up coming back to the trail with no problems, but we took an unfortunate detour. When I get off trail it can be pretty demoralizing since I feel like I am using valueable energy that I really need for the real trail.
I knew at some point we would have to encounter icy snow, but the question was whether it would be level or at an incline. There were a few points on the trail where there was level snow, but it was not really an issue. However, at the pass I knew it would be different. You can see the pass at the low point in the background, and that is the snow we would have to cross. The snow was solid in the morning. We did have to becareful at some points. There were a few rocks sticking out and some footholes others had made. What I was somewhat concerned about, which is always something in the back of my mind on a uphill hike, is coming back down. In a few hours, the icy snow would turn into slushy snow. You can see part of the patch of snow we crossed below and how the trails zig zags to get to this point.
This is looking back down from where we came from. You can see Dunderberg Peak in full view. That was a possible option of climbing, but I did not really want to do that this time around. Maybe someday in the future. That hike is one where it is almost straight up. If you remember my Belle Starr's Daughter locations from two years ago that is just on the other side of that mountain.Trying to find the name of this pass is an interesting thing. We started out at Virginia Lakes. I was thinking it might be called Virginia Pass. No, although not too far away, that is to the north of what comes from the Green Creek trailhead. In the video I show that the trail continues in one direction, but we head south. If we had continued on the trail we would have headed to Summit Lake. According to Secor's The High Sierra book we were on the Summit Lake Trail. So, how about "Summit Pass?" I like to refer to it as the trail that starts out at Virginia Lakes, or the Virginia Lakes trailhead. In any case, now the real "fun" would begin. At this point we were about two hours into the hike which would have been shorter had we not made the mistake we did that cost us about 30 minutes.A couple of things I should point out in the above picture. My final destination is the mountain in the middle and in background: Mt. Excelsior. The real trick to the hike is coming up next. We had to get over the saddle of that 11,000 ft. mountain to the right of it. If we could get past the "hump" then I was almost certain we would get to the top.
The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Excelsior Mountain (The Beginning)

(GPS: N38 02.875 W119 15.800)

Part of my strategy in hiking this year was to not visit the highest mountains or the most popular trails. Too many times I have read about someone saying something like, "I have climbed Mt. Whitney, and I am depressed since I do know what to do now." I purposely planned to go to lesser known Eastern Sierra peaks and trails. The Yosemite fire, which I mentioned during September, really messed things up in what I intended to do, but I did get in a couple of mountain peak hikes and a bunch of simple hikes.
This hike from the Virginia Lakes trailhead (GPS Coords above) was done on July 3rd of this year. As much as I love the area, I was not too thrilled to visit the place if it was packed with people. I told my brother this is the one hike I really wanted that weekend, and we did not have to do anything else. I thought this area might be my best bet to avoid any crowds on which is the best time of the year for the town stores to make money, but the worst for overcrowded wilderness experiences. This blog and the ones that will follow will hit some of the highlights.
Virginia Lakes is a well known place for fishing. We left the trailhead and passed the Hoover Wilderness sign very quickly. It was probably around ten minutes after we got started. Then, we started the steeper climb past Blue Lake.
Somewhere past that point I looked to the right to see a sliding chute with talus rocks. Most climbs outside of the established trails are on talus rock. That is what I knew would be coming later on in the hike.
We passed an old cabin.
There were lots of streams and ponds along the way. One thing to note is the snow. We were a bit concerned about the snow on the steeper parts of the trail. I knew at some point later on if the snow was completely covering the area we might be forced to turn around.
We passed Cooney Lake. Then, I liked the snow reflection in Frog Lake.
This hike will take a bunch of blogs to cover. In the next entry, I show what we encountered to get to the pass.

The following video was re-edited during the summer of 2013. I cut out a lot of things compared to the original videos:

To Excelsior Mountain (Youtube Version)

To Excelsior Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The following music was used from Mellowtron, Constancy Part One, Gustav Sting, and Fluidscape.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hidden Ranch Location

(GPS: N33 48.280 W117 39.180)

The final part of the hike I have been showing in the past few blogs was this point. Although one can continue another few miles to see the next historic spot I decided that I could hike to it on another day from another trail route. After I came here I wanted to turn around. This picture continues from the the lost blog where the turnoff is the Indian village. I was under the impression that I would have to travel much further to get to what was known as Hidden Ranch. I was mistaken since it was only about 500 feet down the dirt road. The ranch would have been down the road just to the right in the open field.
There was a cattle ranch that existed here: Hidden Ranch.
This is pretty close to it. If you are in the mood you can plug the coordinates into Google Earth, if you have it, and then go back in time to see the ranch in the past. I did it to verify what I was looking for. It was only a few years ago that they took it down. There is an old video of some guys exploring what I assume is the old ranch.
Again, where the ranch would have been.
One of the few remaining structures I could find.
The "wild west" story that I know about this place is taken from Terry Stephenson’s Shadows of Old Saddleback (1930):

"Perhaps no death by violence touched the public career of any man in the county so much as did the killing of James Gregg on June 9 1899, affect the career of its superior court judge, the late J. W. Ballard. The Hidden Ranch at that time was in the hands of Henry Hungerford of Norwalk and George M. Howard of Anaheim. At the ranch with them was Hungerford’s brother, Thomas L. Hungerford. On the evening of June 8, James M. Gregg of Centralia and his brother-in-law, Decatur Harris, and a 13-year-old boy, Clinton Hunt, arrived for the purpose of driving out some stock that Gregg owned. Gregg and Henry Hungerford quarreled. It seems that Howard owed Gregg $10 on a horse trade, and Gregg insisted that Hungerford and Howard accept $7.50 in settlement of their pasturage bill of $17.50.

That night, Gregg, Harris and the boy slept on the ground in front of the house. When Gregg was rolling up his blankets the next morning, Henry Hungerford came out and the dispute resumed. It ended in shooting. The Hungerfords, each armed with a shotgun, and Gregg, with a revolver, fought it out. When the shooting ceased, Gregg was on the ground with charges of birdshot and buckshot through him. The Hungerfords hitched up a horse and drove down Black Star and on into Santa Ana, where they gave themselves up to Sheriff Theo Lacy. In the meantime, Gregg was laid in a spring wagon by Harris and the boy and was being taken to a doctor when, near the Irvine Park in Santiago canyon, the wagon was met by Sheriff Lacy and District Attorney R. Y. Williams. A doctor was found at El Modena and it was at a house in El Modena that Gregg died. The trial before Judge Ballard resulted in the conviction of Henry Hungerford. In those days killings were infrequent and a trial of this kind created an interest that was widespread and intense. Public sentiment was against the defendants. Following conviction, a new trial was sought, and unexpectedly Judge Ballard granted the motion on the ground that not enough evidence had been produced to warrant the verdict. Having presented all the evidence available there was nothing for the district attorney to do but ask for the dismissal of the case. Soon afterward, Judge Ballard came up for re-election, with Z. B. West as his opponent. Judge Ballard’s decision in the Hungerford case was the outstanding issue of the campaign, which was vigorous and which resulted in the defeat of Judge Ballard."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Black Star Canyon Indian Village

(GPS: N33 48.140 W117 39.290)

Blackstar Canyon Indian Village (Youtube Version)

Blackstar Canyon Indian Village (Vimeo Version)

First, let me say that I spent a lot of time searching blogs on the afternoon of Halloween for those blogging about the topic. There are a bunch of blogs dedicated to the holiday and the various “creatures” that go along with it. There is definitely a lot of good stuff out there. I wish I could keep up with the so many blogs. After spending my time reading blogs dedicated to Halloween and other spooky matters it made me sad that the Halloween season is over. Now it is the quick change in stores for Thanksgiving and Christmas themed merchandise, off we go, and then we wonder where the year went.

With October out of the way, my “spooky” series to end the month is over too, but the whole purpose of the hike I did in my last blog entry was to get to this historic location. It turns out that this area has some spooky legends that go along with it, but that will not be the focus here. Although, as you will probably figure out, one can see how spooky legends would arise from this location.

Some years back I really desired to come to visit this Indian village. I had heard a lot about it, but never could find much about where it was actually located. There are a lot of general directions given online about it. I would read stuff like, “It is 6 miles from the trailhead.” Then I had read some people had trouble finding it, or missed it, and said they would have to go back. That is one thing about me, I really like to know where I am going if I have to hike very far into something. Just missing something on a hard hike can be really annoying. Then, at the time, I was hearing stuff about people getting confronted by the people who live there with shotguns and I was wondering if I would ever see this historical place. I decided to do a careful search, but knew that this location was just past the major switchbacks.

There was no real issue finding this place. If you saw my last video, I am overlooking it in the distance in the last 20 seconds or so. As you are descending on the trail after the switchbacks you look to the right for a big patch of trees. In my picture you can see a big post and a descent trail. Then, if you look really closely, you can see a sign: Historic Indian Village No. 217 (It is a California Historical Landmark).

I walked past the sign and started to investigate the area. After passing some of the tree cover the area opens up to some mounds with rocks.
On examing the rocks you will see many holes. These holes are the grinding rocks used by the Gabrieleno/Tongva Indians. They would mash up the acorns collected in this area in these holes.
Some of these holes are really big.
Looking inside one of the holes.
One of the stories about this area is that there was a skirmish between American fur trappers and a group of Gabrieleno Indians here in 1831. American fur trappers were attempting to recover horses stolen by the Indians here. The fur trappers moved in and killed several of the Indians. The horses were recovered and returned to the owners outside of the canyon. I have seen some really dramatic accounts of this, but the reality is it is based on one account we know of by oral tradition. You can find the source of it in the Black Star Canyon part of this LINK.

In any case, it was a fun area to stop at after many years of trying to learn about it and find out just exactly where it was. I ended up eating lunch there sitting on a rock that more than a few Indians had probably done the same thing a few hundred years earlier.

Coincidentally, the next historic spot on the trail is only about 500 feet more down the trail. It was not as significant to me, but still worth checking out since it is the site of a “wild west” story. I will show that next time.