Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Ghost Mine Above Lee Vining

The Ghost of Christmas Past appears to have shown up for this video:

1)The Log Cabin Mine

So, it had been about nine years since I had been back to this mine. I’ll link to what I did then below, but this mine was one of my early blog entries going back to 2006. Over the years I have had some feedback about it or someone asking me if I had heard of this mine using a different name. I had known of it as the Simpson Mine which goes back a hundred years to the surname of who had the rights to the mine.
Over 40 years ago the Boy Scouts of America were given the property. So, one of the names I had been given was “The Boy Scout Mine”. Finally, “The Log Cabin Mine” is what it is known as today.
I knew the basic history of this mining area, but these names threw me off a little when people would ask me about it. There are signs off of Tioga Pass with those names, but I just wasn't making the connection and just had forgotten when people would ask me using those names. In any case, they all refer to the same place.

You can find more pictures I took here if you care to see more of them:

The Log Cabin Mine (Flickr)

Let me give you the quick version of this mine’s history.

Since the mine is a little out of the way from civilization on a rough road and at almost 10,000 ft. it does not get too many visitors. It’s protected by the government so that’s why it is still mostly intact with a lot of “junk” lying around. No, one cannot take anything.

It was the most productive gold mine in California from 1910 until World War 2. At that time the operations had to stop since gold was not allowed to be mined since silver, iron, and zinc were needed for the war effort. After the war the gold standard kept the price of gold so low that the expenses to keep the mine going outweighed any chance of making a profit. The mine was maintained with hope the day would come that the price of gold would go up. The property was eventually given to the Boy Scouts. During Nixon’s presidency the gold standard was lifted, but none of the companies that leased the mine from the Boy Scouts ever were successful. The U.S. Forest Service acquired the property in 1991, but there is still gold there.

My original blog entries on this one can be found here:
The Simpson Mine

If you have more interest in this one then a really easy to read book can be found on Amazon:
Gold Mine in the Sky

2)Blog Year in Review 2014

This is the lowest output I have ever had for this blog with only six entries this year. I could have even had one less had I thought I did not need to address the new e-mail issue. This is the way I like it these days. I want to focus on quality and not rush projects.

This was the first year I don’t think I ever went out actively looking for some movie location to go to. There are some spots that I want to visit, but that is a matter of being inspired to do that and hoping the conditions are right for that.

Even hiking this year was a let down. The Death Valley hike I posted about on Halloween was probably the highlight of the year for me, but I intended to do some others. One of the big problems I had was Yosemite was on fire again! It’s really frustrating to do all this planning over months to a year in advance and then that happens while I am there. I actually did do an easy mountain climb, but it’s not worth posting since the smoke was really bad when viewing from the top. I intended to go back and do it again, but then Yosemite had another fire so I just gave up.

So, I am kind of glad 2014 is over in this regard. When the conditions were that bad I just had to put my interests into other things. I believe I will have a little more activity in 2015 on here.

So, until then have a Happy New Year!

The music from that used for the video is Tempting Secrets and Satiate.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hunting a Bird in Death Valley (Halloween 2014)

Happy Halloween!

Since it is October 31st I planned something a little mysterious for you:

Since taking an HD video was why I did this hike again, I did not make as much an emphasis with taking pictures since I had already done that years ago. However, you can find some of the pictures I took this time around at the following link:

The Death Valley Hike Pictures (Flickr)


I’ve think I have told the story of a few people that have commented to me or told me via e-mail that they think the hikes I do are okay, but they really just care about the movie locations I have shown. I don’t usually respond to something like that because my response would be something like, “Of course you don’t like the hikes I show because you can’t do them.” 

This is one of those hikes that I did that if you can’t find something interesting in it then I guess I just have to give up this blog for good. I mean, if you don’t like this one then I have two words for you, and they are not "Happy Birthday"! In my continuing quest for death deviance, I put my body and soul in an extreme harsh environment and there is indifference? What’s wrong with you people?!


If you have been around this blog long enough or looked at some of my earlier blog entries you probably recognized this one. I finally got to do this one again after years of wanting to do it one more time to get a better video of it. On my original Youtube channel I did an experimental three part video of this hike. It was first set of videos I really put a lot of effort into. I had some good ideas with it, and I guess it was okay for the early days of Youtube, but it had two issues with it that made it lack the style Youtube was and is known for. One would be that the quality was not all that great since the camcorder used tape to record. 

The other bigger issue was that it was just too long. Trimming and editing videos down has been a very important thing I have learned over the past few years. There are many videos I have done that are hard for me to watch now because I know I should have edited them down a lot more. In this video, I cut out a lot, but even so it is still quite long. 

The last half of the video was done in one take. That was something I had planned to do knowing it would be slightly shaky after a four hour hike to the spot and moving around on a dangerous incline. Yeah, I actually did fall down at one point, but I recovered pretty well. As I fell, I remembered to just protect the camcorder and kept going. Of course, all those years learning how to control my fall in martial arts training helped. 

Btw, the video was shot at 1080p at 60 fps. Please watch it at the best quality settings your system can handle. 

C)The Hike 

Since I had done this one before about eight years ago I kind of knew what to expect; I’ll link the blog entries for that hike that has my original thoughts from the first time below. My brother and I spent the night in Lone Pine. I wanted to spend the night in Trona (or Ridgecrest) since the drive to the trailhead would have been a lot more direct, but I found out the road from Trona to where we would start the hike was closed. So, our friends met us at Lone Pine early in the morning, and we drove to Towne Pass where the hike began. 

The video petty much shows you how it went. It took about 8 hours to get to the site and back. You can add on an extra thirty minutes for me since I was doing video and pictures there and back again. 

The ups and downs of the hike are still annoying. That 1,000 ft. of elevation gain coming back from the plane is rough, and I had forgotten about the difficulty of some of the terrain there. Since you know you have to do it to get out of there (no cell phone reception), we just kept plugging away until we reached Towne Summit again. It was still difficult from there, but at that point you know you can finish the hike. The final part coming down that wall you initially climb is probably the roughest part. It’s a lot hotter there, and the sagebrush/cactus plants attack your legs if you are not careful.

This time around I was not as dehydrated as the first time. There was some cloud cover at times to block the sun, but it was still a warm Death Valley day with the temperature being about 90 degrees. In any case, I was glad when it was over. 

D)The Albatross 

The actual goal of the hike and what makes it unique and mysterious is the plane crash itself. I covered that before, and you can read about it in the links I provided below. I think the general story is well known: this SA-16 aircraft attempted to fly from Idaho to San Diego, it was a C.I.A. aircraft, one of the engines malfunctioned, and the plane crashed where it is today, but somehow the crew all survived. 

In the book Grumman Albatross: a history of the Legendary Seaplane by Wayne Mutza there is a short section about this flight and crash. He seems to be skeptical of the idea that the pilot and crew jumped out of the plane and then the plane flew for around twenty miles to land mostly intact on the slope near Towne Summit. I can understand that skepticism, but I am almost equally skeptical of anyone being on that plane and not dying on impact. It’s almost a miracle in any case.

So, the sequence of events of what happened to that aircraft and crew as they flew over Death Valley is one of those mysteries I’m not sure we will ever know for sure. It sure would be fun to hear from one of those crew members if any are still alive. If anyone has anymore info out this or comes across unclassified information I am all ears, but it is not something I intend to pursue on my own. 

I hate to report that someone about a year ago did some graffiti by carving their intials/name and the date they were there into the side of the aircraft. WHY? I could probably shame them by mentioning who it was since I have pictures of the registry names in the survival cache left there, but I’ll stay away from that.

E)Closing Thoughts 

I was a little snotty/sarcastic above in my opening remarks, but I should make it clear that I don’t recommend people doing this hike. Unless you are well prepared and experienced in hiking scrambles in extreme environments do not even think about doing this one. They call this area Death Valley for a reason.

I’ll never do this hike again. If someone wants to fly me in and out on a helicopter then I might be willing, but I am done with this one. With that said, it is hikes like this that make this blog worthwhile. 

I do have alternative video footage I shot. I have a few ideas somewhere down the road I could put together for a more narrative approach. If I ever came across more information on this flight…It would be fun to actually fly around in a real SA-16...but I’m not in the mood to spend more of my time and money on this sort of thing. A lot of it depends on the interest I get on this one.

The original hike blogs:

The main historical account about the crash can be found HERE.

The following music was taken from for the video: Hitman, Opressive GloomTenebrous Brothers Carnival - Prelude.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Planet of the Apes Village (Malibu Creek State Park)

(GPS:  N34° 06.010 W118° 43.995)

Since the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie opens tonight/tomorrow I thought I would show something from the original 1968 movie with Charlton Heston. I have hesitated showing this one for quite some time due to a few factors I mentioned on my last blog on here. There is nothing left there, and the area is not super scenic. Yet, I do like this area, and the fact the new movie has come out kind of inspired me. However, make no mistake, I don't believe what I am about to show is super impressive so take it for whatever it is worth.

This was the same day I visited where the farm was in Ride the High Country. Based on a mention in Medved's Hollywood Escapes book and a quick Google Earth view of the area prior to going I knew exactly where to go to get to the ape village in the original Planet of the Apes movie. So after doing what I needed to at the farm I headed north along a dirt road. After a few turns I ended up at the following:
The actual village site would have been where the two dirt roads intersect. If you look in the background you can see where the saddle of the mountains/hills connect. The big bushy tree in the background is the same one as in the movie from what I can tell, but is not helpful as the saddle in showing where the village was at. Btw, all the bushy type of trees on the left side of the picture are covering up where Century Lake would have been during the time of the movie. The lake is still around, but I don't think it goes out this far to the road anymore.
The above picture is taken from my camcorder. If you head down to where the ape village would have been and look to the right up this hillside gets you this perspective. Some of those bushes up above appear to be the same as during the time of the movie.

The above picture is turning around and looking at where the lower dirt road goes. You will notice the crags which are the clearest landmarks for letting one know it is the right area. This road takes you to where you can see Century Lake:
Unfortunately, when the state purchased the park they took down the ape village set. Malibu Creek State Park has other Planet of the Apes locations, and there is one more I wouldn't mind getting back there to do, but if and when I do is a different story.

I did a video for this one, again not super impressive, so take it for whatever it is worth:

Strolling Through Ape Village (Youtube Video)

However, if you would like to see some real apes in action, I also uploaded a fun video I had of me playing around with some of the baby chimps at the Los Angeles Zoo:

Dawn of the L.A. Chimps (Youtube)

Music used: Stoneworld Battle, Satiate Percussion, Winter Reflections, Return of Lazarus, Hidden Agenda, and Moonlight Hall.

Of course, if you would like to see the old blog I did at Point Dume for the ending of the original movie then go HERE.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How I Choose Locations (The Fun Creepy Easter Bunny Edition)

Happy Easter!

Although I am in serious mode here for this one, I wanted to lighten this up with the funny creepy Easter bunny. A little distraction which I’ll explain at end on this one.
I mentioned last time that I wanted to dedicate a blog entry to how I go about choosing which locations or hikes I do. I know I have talked about parts of this in the past, but I thought I would go over it again here. Let me start this off with a story.

Years ago, not too long after the blog really started, I got a reader who enjoyed what I was doing and kept asking me when I would put up a future film location I had talked with him about. It was one that I eventually intended to do since I had pictures and video, but it was not one that I was super excited about. Why was I not too excited about it? Well, it is one of those that you know you are in the right area, but there is nothing too spectacular about it.

When I eventually did get it up he was a lot more excited about than I was. He then “challenged” me to find the location of one crucial scene at the end of a movie. I eventually watched the movie ending to see why he wanted me to do it. The scene was a good exciting one, but there was a problem. First, there were a lot of quick edits. However, the real problem was, after looking into where it was filmed, that all that appears to remain is some empty fields. So, basically, the guy wanted me to drive a few hundred miles to take pictures and video of some open fields.

That’s not really the way I work, nor do I just go somewhere for the sake of going somewhere. There are certain things I look for when I decide I am going to some location. Let me mention a few of them.

At the very top of the blog I say, “explore artwork done in nature.” I’ve always meant that to be somewhat ambiguous. The obvious thing one would think is I am referring to human created films done outdoors. That’s partly true, but the bigger picture is I am talking about the beauty of nature itself. The handiwork that has gone into making the rocks, rainbows, mountains, rivers, clouds, valleys, etc. as powerful and beautiful to behold.

So, that is a major part of the decision in trying to figure out what I want to do. Is something I visit going to give me that sense of “WOW!” Some places I have visited have done that more than others for me. One of the really powerful things is being on top of a mountain looking down for miles and miles around. The majesty or transcendence I have encountered climbing certain mountains is not something that I think can be expressed in videos or pictures. While I attempt to try doing that on here I know I can never capture that 1st person perspective unless one experiences it him/herself.

When it comes to film locations its not enough for me to go to just anywhere a film was made. There still has to be some “wow” factor as far as what scenery was used. For me it’s not really about nostalgia, going to where some actor has been, or even posting “then and now” pictures. Those are not major influences on how I have gone about doing things on here. Those aspects are on here, but its not really what inspires me.
The second part of what I think about in trying to decide which locations to show on here is how unique the location is. Is it something out of the ordinary? Normally, I don’t like to show places that have tons of people around. Why? Because in that case the location is pretty well known. Which means that there are probably tons of pictures and video on all the social media sites out there. Anybody can do that. I try to avoid places I just drive to, get out of the car, point and click. The most rewarding places I have been to are the ones that are much more remote that takes some work to get to. Usually, that is by foot as well.

The third issue I am thinking about, especially when talking about film locations, but it also applies to history sites, is how important the scene was in the movie. Obviously, if a major action scene took place that will probably capture my attention more than just a scene of dialogue. For example, a western movie gunfight spot is usually interesting to me, while a love scene done under a tree not so. Likewise with history, if the spot is of historical significance fine, but if it is just a case of some historical person walked down this road everyday I’ll pass.

Of course, if the movie is important to me then the more I care. In the past, I have had people wanting me to do more for a couple of movies and, as much as I hate to say it, I did not share the enthusiasm they did for the movie. There are a lot of transition scenes in movies I tend not to show on here because of this. I will say that there are some movies that I don’t think are really that great, but there might be one scene in it that was filmed in a really cool way that cause me to search it out.

So, those are the three big criteria I am thinking about when I decide to both visit a location and what I post on here. I’ve been to some places that I just didn’t think were worth posting about. Last weekend I revisited the Baden-Powell Mt. hike which I like to do just as a elevation training hike. I think I have shown the mountain from the distance and a hike at the base of it, but never that hike itself. It just is not that impressive to me to show on here.
Since it is Easter and lots of kids will be looking for those eggs today, I thought I would throw out one other thing that has always interested me about what I have done on here. Many times I have had an image in my head from some movie or a picture of some place, yet I did not know exactly where it was at. I could be at home thinking about it, then I could be out on the field looking for it. I can’t figure out how this could be. Then at the right moment something happens and there is an epiphany. “I’m in the right spot! Oh wow! I’ve just gained an insight about the universe!” More could be said about that, but I'll leave that one for now.

About the Easter Bunny story, I do see rabbits a lot where I live. It’s not too uncommon, but a white one is a different story. I came home from an evening walk about a week ago. I saw this white rabbit, but at the time I thought it was some toy on my yard some kid left behind. Then I saw it eating grass about 20 feet away from me. I wanted to get a picture of it so I went inside my place and got a point and click camera. Unfortunately, I don’t use this camera very much at night so I was fumbling around with the controls trying to figure out how to turn on the flash. Then, the next thing I knew is I nearly jumped as the little creature was at my feet. It proceeded to run around me a bunch of times. At this point, I was pretty sure it was someone’s pet since it didn‘t appear to be that afraid of me by getting this close. I wanted to pet it since it was attempting to be friendly, but decided against it for possibly health issues. I did give it some small carrots I had which it did eat, but I was told after that might not have been the best thing for it…oh well, if it was good enough for Bugs Bunny…it did eat them all.

Afterwards I was looking at the pictures and they kind of creeped me out a bit. You know, white rabbits like that are pretty darn creepy. The fires of hell were in those eyes! So, I had to rewatch some of my favorite rabbit scenes that night:

Monty Python Holy Grail Rabbit Scene:

The ultra weird David Lynch Rabbits:

Of course, there is always an article like this every year:

Friday, February 14, 2014

FYI: Change of E-mail

Coming out of hibernation...

I have a new e-mail address:

thegreatsilence(you know the sign to put here)

It's also listed in my profile in the link on the right side of the page.

As I mentioned a few months ago I had e-mail problems, and it is happening again. I took the necessary precautions then, but here we go again. I think I know what happened this time with an older computer I use. Still it sickens me how easy the spamming can happen to anyone who has contacted me in the past so...enough is enough.

As I said last time. I do not send out random links without some sort of explanation. That's not my style. Please delete or block the e-mail if you see something like that.

So, from now on the hotmail account is done.

...back into hibernation mode.