Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steve McQueen at Hot Creek Location

(GPS: N37 39.730 W118 49.610) 
I thought I would interrupt my tribute to John Wayne with this since in the next blog I am going to continue with the tribute with more on this area. Hot Creek is just east of HWY 395 outside of Mammoth, CA. Movies filmed here are at a higher elevation than the ones filmed at the Alabama Hills. When I think of the Sierra Nevada I think of forests and high mountains, not deserts. The general rule I go by is anything going west of the 395 is going to have the cooler forests and mountains, but anything going east of the 395 is warmer and deserts. When I drive it I usually like looking towards the west than the east of the 395.
(Note: my gps readings seemed a little off when I checked the Google maps at home. Like all my gps coordinates I post they should get you really close, but it is up to you to figure out the rest. The next time I am there I will have to recheck them.)

The whole Mammoth area has a volcanically charged geological history. At Hot Creek the cooling, but HOT, magma below heats the water. The water is very warm here with lots of steam at some points. If my memory is correct, they had a bunch of signs warning that somewhere around 13-16 people have either been severely injured or died here. This was a popular area to swim at, but has been prohibited for the past few years due to the instability of the area.
Nevada Smith is a Steve McQueen movie that the used a lot of different Eastern Sierra locations. The movie is good, but they really did do a lot of work on trying to show different locations in the movie. This is probably my favorite one.
You may notice the rock in my picture on the right looks it has been cut in half. I am not sure what to make of that. I will say more about this below. Many, many years ago I came here, but I was much further down the creek to the west. A lot of people fly-fish that side. Although I knew of the movies that were filmed here I was not really as into the locations then. In the years after, I had a hard time visualizing where they shot the movies. For the above picture all they did was go up the road more to the east. There is a nearby parking lot. In fact, there was a road right behind me near where I shot these pictures.Steve is looking down on Brian Keith below. This rock formation was really strange to me. It really felt right, but when I looked it did not look quite right. These rock formations seemed to have changed a bit quicker over the years compared to stuff I show from the Alabama Hills. Red Rock Canyon is a little like this too. In any case, you should be able to see indentation under Steve's right arm and compare with mine.One thing I wanted to note is trying to get the right angle for how the camera was positioned to film Steve was very tough. I think the camera may have been close to where I was and zoomed in. This area he is looking down is a cliff. I had to be careful around here in where I was putting my feet. It was slightly exposed; if I were hiking I would consider this class 3 terrain. It seemed like a lot of work and risk for a camera man to film here. Steve (or his stuntman Loren James) would have dropped down right below where he was standing. There is an area to do that, maybe it was not so bad almost 45 years ago, but it not something I would want to quickly go down today.
In the next blog I will go down below. I will continue the tribute to John Wayne, but I will try to point out some more of where Nevada Smith was filmed as well. It is mostly the same areas.

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Youtube Version)

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Vimeo Version)

For the video I used the following music from Incompetech:  Americana, Crusade, and In the West.