Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Baldy Hike Video

Another experimental/test video. I want to see how this new blogger version works. This is a quickie of the main points of the Ski Hut trail.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Baden-Powell, Iron, and the Devil's Backbone

There are a few other mountains to look at while on the summit of Baldy. Baden-Powell is just to the west or northwest. I have been to the top of this one a few times. It is a relatively easy switchbacking trail hike. Like Baldy, I use it as an exercise hike. The sky looks a tad dark and that was due to some fire on the other side at the time.
This next one is looking more to the west. This is Iron Mountain. It is way below when one is on the summit of Baldy, but it is supposed to be one of the hardest, if not the hardest, hike in Southern California. Usually, one starts this hike in the East Fork River area and makes the 6,000 ft. climb from there. One can try to go down to it from Baldy, but that is rare. I may try hiking it some day, but I just do not have the desire for it right now.
I came down from the summit using the Devil's Backbone trail. Here is how it is when looking back to where I came from.
I passed the ski lift area to the fire road that took me back to where I parked. All in all, it was a nice loop hike that morning. On the Ski Hut trail there are two points that are very steep: one right before you get to the Ski Hut, and the other is one of the final ridges you go up to get to the summit. These seemed to be much rougher steep points than anything I encountered the weeks before in the Sierra.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Baldy Exercise

(GPS: N 34 17.345, W 117 38.785)

I was on top of Mt. San Antonio (Mount Baldy) a few weeks ago. I did not do this hike to enjoy the scenery. I did not do this hike to escape the city. I had just returned from doing both of those things in the weeks prior. Enjoying scenery here compared to where I had just been would be a big letdown. It is just not the same. The reason I came here to hike just after coming from the Sierra Nevada was to see how quickly I could do this hike right after all the extra energy I gained from hiking the high country.

I took the Ski Hut trail out of Manker Flat like I normally do for this hike. Usually, I see this hike as a quick training hike or exercise hike. It is the obvious big mountain in Southern California so it is worth the hike. Here are some of the highlights at the summit:
The above is looking back down where I came from. I live about 30 miles down below.
The above is looking more to the east. San Jacinto should be in the furthest in the background. San Gorgonio is to the left.
This one is looking more to the east to the Cajon Pass area. You can see the 15 freeway to Victorville and Las Vegas. I will follow this up with another important mountain or two you can see from the summit.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Audie Murphy's Showdown Rock + Iron Man Preview (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 37.902 W118 07.330)
One of my favorite old western actors is war hero turned actor, Audie Murphy. I have often said elsewhere that Rambo is a myth, but Audie was the real thing. One of the coolest cult westerns out there is No Name on the Bullet where he plays a "good" bad guy. Of course, his autobiographical movie, To Hell and Back, is required watching.

Audie visited Alabama Hills for three separate movies. Hell Bent for Leather, Posse From Hell, and Showdown are the three quality B-westerns he did out there. I have shown one area in the past from Hell Bent for Leather. Unfortunately, like a lot of Audie's movies, these are not on dvd. In the past some of these have played on television. The one I am going to talk about is actually pretty rare and I was fortunate to get a less than steller copy of it. I am grateful to even have that since Showdown is next to impossible to find, but the following picture was taken from a magazine I have:
In this movie, Audie's friend (Charles Drake) has been chained by the bad guys to this rock. The movie is like The Tall T and Rawhide that were filmed out here, in the sense that Audie and his friend are captives of the badmen here. A lot of the movie deals with getting ransom money for the men as both friends are split up. This chained rock becomes an important area in the movie.

Fortunately, finding this rock was not too difficult and may have been a lot harder for me to find without help. The Lone Pine Film Museum has a map you can buy on your way out for a dollar that gives a driving tour of most of the main Audie Murphy sites. Still I was not sure it would be that easy since this location is much further north than the main sites I have gone over in the past. This is actually a good thing about Audie's movies is that he and some of the crew scouted for areas that had not been used before. He even flew overhead in his plane looking for them. A lot of these rocks out in this area were not as distinctive for me, but following the directions and using my location hunting intuition I eventually found the area.
The funny thing is that I shot this at the end of June around 8:00am. In mid-August, I was there around 9:30am in which I hoped to take a picture with my new camera and not have any shadows at all, but it was much worse. Naturally, the month of June up to the 21st has the longest daylight. Next month it will be interesting in that I hope to be here during the middle of the day so that shouldn't be an issue. I'll edit this if I get a better picture.

I have other location sites with Audie Murphy, but I'll save those for another time.

Coincidentally, I was watching random youtube video's this morning. I had already intended to put this entry up today with this site. I saw that the new trailer for Marvel Comic Book character, Iron Man, was up. I clicked it and the next thing I saw was Iraq! Well, not really, but that's where part of the story takes place.

After further examing it I was shocked to see how north they were in Alabama Hills. Here Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is talking to a bunch of soldiers about his weapons. Then I thought this is really a strange coincidence. They are not that far away from Audie Murphy's Showdown rock location. It is just a few minutes walk south of it from what it looks like.
Strange as it is, in my picture above, if you look to the left and the midground of the picture, some of those rocks look very similar to the two right rocks in the trailer picture. The backgrounds are very close. It would make sense for them to film that scene there. It is very close to a very large area anyone can park at to walk to these areas. When I go back next month I will verify this.

In the meantime, check out the trailer. It will be nice to see some of these areas on the bigscreen in May, 2008. FYI, Mt. Langely is just to the right of Downey's head. I was on top of that one a few weeks ago...another entry, some other time.

Iron Man Official Site (Go here for the best trailer quality)
Iron Man Trailer on Youtube

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Example of a Drought Year

Saddlebag Lake

One thing I always wish for is as the winter months go on is a quick winter where the snow melts away quickly going into the summer. Not that I don't like snow, but it makes it easier on the hikes I enjoy doing. At least there is usually less danger going into the back country. It was fun that I got to do Whitney in June instead of July or August, but over all this was a bad year because of the drought. The Sierras suffered for it like a lot of California. One obvious area is Saddlebag Lake off of Tioga Pass near Yosemite. I did a quick and obvious stitch of what Saddlebag Lake looked like in August, 2006That is the normal look of that beautiful lake. Here is another regular picture of this lake: Now, look at this disaster. You would think that this isn't the same area. This year at the very end of July, 2007: Is this supposed to be some sort of river here? Where is the lake?
Before I cause a panic let's go back to last year:
Compare where the trees are to this.
When I was in the Sierra Nevada this year the first few days I just could not get enough water and other drinks into my system. I felt dehydrated all the time. I was fortunate that some dark clouds came in, cooled the place down, some minor rainfall occurred, and then some breezy wind the rest of the time. I am hopeful that some major snowfall will happen in the next few months to balance things out this year.

Monday, September 03, 2007

High Plains Drifter

(GPS: N 37° 55.630 W 119° 01.370)

(EDIT (2/6/11): this location has been updated. This blog entry is very old so make sure you see the rest of blogs and video I did on it. Please click the tag below or this link to get all three blogs I did on this location. Also, be sure to check out Clint Spooks 'Em too.)

I have posted some unique pictures of Mono Lake in another entry. Unique in the sense they are from a different angle and high point than one normally sees of the lake. Go HERE for those.

Years ago my brother and I went looking for the town of "Lago" where the movie High Plains Drifter was exclusively filmed. Admittedly, since we did this long before I really started looking for old movie locations these pictures are close, but not as close as I could do today. One of these days I might go back and see if I can be a bit more precise on these. In fact, the gps coords above don't get you to the pictures below. They get you to the Navy Beach plaque which leads you to the South Tufa of Mono Lake. You then follow the road and head more to the north or northwest along the lake.

As a side note, Navy Beach was where the U.S. Navy did some top secret experimental work during the cold war era. It closed down in 1962. There is a tour of the wildlife nearby. Okay, to the pictures:

At the beginning of the movie, Clint rides down from the background (that's actually were the gps coords are at). You will notice in the following picture I have about 1/3 of the movie picture. If you compare the left hand side you can match up about 1/3 of it.
Mono Lake has a history of different water levels. I do not think the town where "Lago" appeared in the movie has had any issues of water reaching it or past it. I could be wrong though. You can see the two main islands in this lake. I have not seen Fair Wind to Java with Fred MacMurray, but to this day those islands are referred to as Krakatoa and Java due to that movie being filmed here. In location hunting these days I would take the above picture above to the site and probably head to my left (north) to line up the mountain peaks in the background with the islands, thus, getting a more precise shot. Also, I need to be higher behind me.
Another shot nearby. One thing about Mono Lake is that during the summer it is very hot. The general rule of thumb that I go by is any lake to the east of the 395 is going to be a fire lake. Usually very dry and not very much fun. I was there last year hiking the northern side to some caves. I was glad I did it early in the morning because by the time I finally reached my truck I was dying for water. It is a desert area regardless of the salt water you see. Remember, Clint did turn the town of "Lago" into "Hell" for a reason. ;)
Again, Clint is just arriving in town.
I am not really sure about this, but you can see the piece of land that darts out into the water in the background. It is possible my picture below is a trace of that.
When the outlaws get out of jail they show up from the south to southeastern side of the lake. Close to where you see the first two pictures above. This movie is interesting to me because they filmed almost every scene here, but all the indoor sets appear to have been made and filmed here too.

The Return to Lago (Youtube Version)

The Return to Lago (Vimeo Version)