Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Natalie Wood Death Tidbit

(N33 26.940 W118 30.020)
Yesterday marked the 30th aniversary of Natalie Wood's death. I did not really commit the exact date to my memory, nor would have I really cared enough to bring this up had it not been for the recent news about the case being re-opened. The recent news did trigger a few memories both old and new.

I do remember watching the news near the time she died. My response then, as it would be for anyone that drowns near Catalina Island, was "really?!" My response 30 years later that the case is being re-opened is "really?!"

What I remembered most about that time period was it was another six months to around a year later that I visited Catalina. On the boat ride over my friends and I brought up that she had died recently near Catalina. That day we went to Avalon, and it was the only time I had ever been to Catalina.

Fast forward 30 years later. Last summer I decided to visit Two Harbors which is on the other side of Catalina. On that day I visited a bunch of areas in a few hours time. My adventures on that day will have to wait for quite some time, but they will come out eventually. However, oddly enough, Natalie Wood's name did come out of my mouth again that day.
Where I am standing is what the GPS coordinates are referring to. All the boats you see mooring are in Two Harbors. The point you see in the distance is Blue Cavern Point. It was off the coast there that Natalie Wood had her untimely demise.

On a lighter note, my old blog about where Audie Murphy and Natalie Wood ended up at the same location for different movies can be found HERE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (The Glacier)

(GPS: N37 58.795 W119 18.310)

Time to wrap this one up. When one thinks of glaciers they are usually thinking of something much bigger than this. The Sierra Nevada does have its share of glaciers as small as many of them are. I have seen pictures of some going back to the early 20th century when they were a lot bigger compared to now. If things continue like they have, then they will eventually be gone.
When I went there you could still see a lot of snow or ice on the mountain side. So, it is hard to differentiate between the glacier and the temporary snow connected to it.
The glacier part is just under the mountains you can see in the above picture and next one. It would be a lot bigger in person if you were near one, but you don't want to be because you do not want to get stuck in a bergschrund (crevasse) up there. Of course, a few years ago I was on top of Mt. Conness looking down at the glacier below me and these lakes. I added a little of that perspective in the video.Finally, I was trying to get a one shot of the turquoise water without reflections, but I can live with what I got on this one. Basically, the color of these glacier lakes or tarn is created by the glacial sediment that flows into them.
BTW, this lake was COLD! I accidentally dropped my monopod into the lake, and I had to wade a few feet out to get it. I was lucky it did not go out that far!
I did a panorama stich of the pictures I used in the blog yesterday to combine for the following picture. It is good, but this area is a lot more curved like an amphitheatre (cirque). This makes it look like everything is out in front of you, but in reality you would have to rotate or turn to view it all like this. This one is on Flickr, so click to get to flickr to see the biggest version of it.
I mentioned on one of the earlier blogs on this that to traverse that patch of snow by the falls would be a very bad decision to come back down it. With an hour of more sunlight it probably got slicker where it would be really easy to take a fall and slide down for a really bad injury or much worse. I had two plans I was thinking of while I originally climbed up it. One, I could come back down, but really hug the solid rocks or land beside the snow. Very slow and still dangerous, but I have done that before elsewhere. There was that one area at the bottom of it that I mentioned that still had me worried about trying this. Two, Just bypass it altogether. That's what I did.
It took a little longer coming down the way I did, but it was much safer. The way I came down was slightly north of the use trail that goes by the falls. There were some gradual slabs of rock that I just kept going down on. It was mostly dry, but I did encounter some snow at some parts. Nothing too dramatic though. I enjoyed it though since it gave me some time to take other pictures and video overlooking other parts of the area.

Eventually, I got back to Greenstone Lake, and then hiked around Saddlebag Lake to get back to the parking lot. Two irritating things happened right at the end of the hike. Although looking back now they are kind of funny. They were both connected:
I was back near the dam near Saddlebag Lake. I saw a bag out in the distance that could obviously go in the trash can at the parking lot. It stood out, and is the type of thing that would ruin a good picture if it stayed there. Don't get me started on people leaving their trash out at places like this when they can throw it away. So, I walked out into the grass by the trees and a stream going by. I picked it up and all of a sudden I smelt it! Oh! It was terrible!
It was human feces. I was carrying the bag, and the trash can I thought was nearby was not where I thought it was. So, I had to carry it much further back to the parking lot. At this point I was not very happy about this.

Then right as I was about to throw the bag in a trash can some guy comes up to me and asks me if I was leaving. At first I thought the guy was connected with the area or the forest service. The way he approached me and was aggressively asking me this came across a little odd. I slowed down in response to him because I was trying to figure out if he perceived me as some overnight camper. Although it is very rare, I get rangers that encounter me in the backcountry that want to know where I am camping so they can check my permits...of course, I only day hike so the assumption is always wrong.
I just gave him slow response of, "yes". The next thing I knew is he turned around, yelled at his friends that I was leaving, and wanted to know where I was parked. As I kept walking he quickly told me that they would be there for four days so they needed a place to park.
What irritated me about that was I was leaving, but I had no intention of just jumping in my truck and taking off. What I was going to do was take off my backpack at my truck, relax a few minutes with a drink, and then head back to Saddlebag Lake to shoot an alternative opening video. So, another ten minutes at most. But, since I had "volunteered" my parking spot, and the guys were waiting on me, I just took off. Not too happy, but the parking lot was full, and the footage I had was good enough as it turns out.
The thing is it was a Saturday during the end of summer and lots of people do come here. I knew that, but I got there early in the morning when very few had parked there. Long story short, I have a pet peave about when I arrive somewhere early, get my seats or parking, then later on someone arrives and starts dictating orders to me because they did not plan ahead.
Somewhere down the road I hope to do the loop hike around all the lakes again and will show that when it happens.

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Youtube Version)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Vimeo Version)
The background music used in the videos are called Transition One and Skye Cuillin.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (More Reflections)

Continuing from the last blog, I moved another 100 ft. or so around the lake. There is a rock that one can stand on, and I got the following pictures. I wanted to make sure I got a couple of Mt. Conness reflecting in the lake.The rest of the pictures is just me moving the camera to my left.I have a panorama of the above pictures that I will show in the final blog entry of this hike tomorrow. I'll mention some things about the glacier as I wrap it up.

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Youtube Version)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Vimeo Version)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Reflections)

Originally, the plan was to take pictures of the glacial tarn that gives the water that turquoise look. When I got there it was still a little too early in the day to get that without reflections so I just focused on the reflections and had fun with that.
Reflections at Conness Glacier (Youtube Version)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Vimeo Version)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (The Final Destination)

After that short snow ascent, it practically ended the hike for what I was trying to do that day. Everything flattened out. It was just a matter of walking around the few streams and ponds to get to the lake. This only took a few minutes at most from the above picture. This is not the lake, but what it drains into. The water going into it is what you hear near that point in the video.
However, the final destination was very quiet. Here is how the lake looks when arriving at it. Mt. Conness is the mountain peak in the middle. The other one to the left looks higher, but that is because it is closer to the lake.
Now I just started taking in the moment and checking out this lake.
I did not purposely go here to take pictures of the reflections, but it was still early in the morning so that is how that worked out. I am going to take a few more days to show other pictures I got of this lake.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (The Falls)

After a little more elevation I came across this one that had been excavated by miners at some point in the past. It is not too obvious coming up from the area I came, but I was looking out for it since it was brought up in that Huell Howser episode. In the episode they mention the miners were either after tungsten or gold.
Most of the elevation to this hike is in this section. Keep in mind this is not a major elevation hike compared to most of the mountain hikes around here. You start at around the 10, 000 ft. level near the dam, but we are only talking about 500 ft. to get you to the 10, 500 ft. range at Conness Lake. The main falls of the area are just across the way there. Mt. Conness is to the upper right side of the picture.I got a little closer to the falls.
Up until this point I had an easy time of things. Then I saw this ahead. I was wondering if I would have to turn around from here which would have been a major bummer. I was thinking, "Oh man! I am going to have to come back at another time. I should have waited another month."
The major concern on something like this is not necessarily going up on the snow/ice, which is still a concern, but what happens back down this way. All it would take is the sun melting some of the snow which would make it a lot more slippery, and it could be a really bad situation.

It turns out the only bad part was a section at the beginning of that snow patch. I almost slipped, but I was thinking that it would be a lot worse coming back down over that part. I will have to explain what I did coming down at the end of this series, but for now I just want to note that after climbing this snow patch to where I wanted to go to, the hike was basically over. It was time to just reflect on life, nature, and any other thing that would reflect. ;)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Youtube Version)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Vimeo Version)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Pond Reflections)

After passing Saddlebag Lake the trail continues to other lakes. This is what I normally do and loop the trail back to where I started. However, on this day I crossed over to the east. I am not sure if there are official trails to get where I was going, but there are use trails around. In fact, you don't have to take the way I did it to get there. Eventually, I came across this:
Zooming in with my camera I got this:I headed over to that area to see a few ponds or tiny lakes that I didn't recall being as big as they were that previous time I came. Of course, during that time was during a "dry" season when we had little snow that year. Off to my right, looking in the direction of Mt. Excelsior, this pond gave a nice reflection.Then turning to my left I liked this reflection as well.
Nice illusions to the eye, but the best was yet to come.

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Youtube Version)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Vimeo Version)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Greenstone Lake)

I will be going back and adding GPS coords when I am done with this in the next few days and correcting any typos and the wording. Alright back to where I left off...

After going around Saddlebag one encounters Greenstone Lake. Actually, it depends on which side of the lake you go around on. You can go around on the other side, but it would just take a little longer to get over here.

I had hoped to show the green color of the lake, but since I came through and back during the morning hours it had a refection on it. So, I just took advantage of that.The final destination I was heading toward is in the background. Mt. Conness is the mountain on the left side. Once concern I had was the snow way back in there. I did not bring anything to traverse snow on an incline. I was not totally sure I could get back to where I wanted.This is left of the above picture. A nice reflection there.I did a quick stich of this lake to show you what it looks like as a whole.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Saddlebag Lake)

(GPS: N37 57.900 W119 16.315)

This starts a series of blogs on one of my favorite hiking areas that I have come to every few years since I was a kid. My dad used to love coming here to fish, and I have memories of the family fishing while I would hike around the lakes. The last time I was here I intended to use the pictures and videos to show off the lakes and scenery, but that was the time the smoke was bad due to the Yosemite fire that took place a few years ago. So, I just kept telling myself to come back.

Since then I have not been able to come back to do the exact hike I usually do. Something would come up, or the weather conditions would not be good enough. Even this last summer I did not do the main hike I wanted to do. No big summer will come soon enough. However, with this area there is a window of opportunity as to when you can be here. Too early in the summer, after a good snow season, one might not be able to drive to the trailhead; too late one might encounter an early snow that gives you the same issue. What it comes down to is about two months out of the whole year where there should be no problems accessing this area. There are exceptions. During dry seasons which did take place a few years ago people were coming here early into the season.

On this short trip the goal was to reach the Conness Lakes area that has the Conness Glacier. I mentioned this one a few years ago after Huell Howser had his Californa's Gold episode here. I will link that at the bottom.

As Huell shows in the episode, one can take a small boat ferry across Saddlebag Lake. When I hike here I don't do that. Part of my enjoyment is walking around Saddlebag Lake which usually takes an extra 30 minutes or so to do.

Looking back to where I started with Mt. Dana in the background. When I was on Mt. Dana a few years ago I was looking down here like I usually like to do. I always like seeing both perspectives as part of the big puzzle at my playground here. Further away and continuing around Saddlebag.Almost around the lake where the main action will take place. I must mention that Mt. Excelsior is in the background, and it too is another area that I was looking down here to get that perspective from up there. Lundy Canyon is in the background, down, and to the right. I was there a few years back, and I hope to have something about it in the future. The reason I have delayed that one is I hope to show you the main hike I normally enjoy doing here which connects to Lundy Canyon. That is the hike I was referring to at the top.I will be heading to the left side of this picture to an area you can't see right now.

My blog on the CG episode with a few of my own pictures can be found HERE.

My Mt. Dana hike can be found HERE.

My Mt. Excelsior hike can be found HERE.

The video:

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Youtube Version)

Reflections at Conness Glacier (Vimeo Version)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ramona Epic #33: R.I.P. Ramona and Juan "Alessandro" Diego

This is the conclusion of this little "mini-series within the series" of blogs dealing with my time near Cahuilla Mt.

Let me preface this one by saying that I am going to be a little more sensative in how I present this than normal. I am not posting any GPS coords, nor any directions how to get to where I was. Although one could probably figure things out just by what I have said previously and what I will say now.

I could probably do everything as normal, but I want to be a little more respectful on this one...I hope anyone reading this blog realizes I try to be respectful everywhere I go. Technically speaking, the graves I visited are on reservation land which can be considered trespassing. On the other hand, the cemetery is literally right next to a casino that anyone can visit (yes, they want you to!) even though it too is on reservation land.

In doing my homework for this one I read a few books and articles. I then corresponded and talked to a few people about this. The main rule I found out is no drugs or alcohol in the cemetery. Other than that, I just used common sense and did not do anything stupid.

Let me also add there are other pictures I have seen of these gravesites on the web. In fact, some are better than mine because I went during the time of the year when the weeds were really growing. Also, I have been told, and read, that in the past Ramona Pageant people have come here and have acted out parts for groups of people. So, it is not like I am the first one to discover these gravesites, or done anything online about them since others have.

Without that out of the way...
The two grave markers in front of me are the gravesites for Ramona Lubo and Juan Diego. Of course, Juan's history was mentioned in Ramona Epic #31.In the above picture is the marker for Ramona Lubo. She was the wife of Juan, witnessed his murder, lived in that same area I was at for #31, then came down here, and lived out her life not too far from the cemetery.

Now below is the grave marker for Juan Diego. These markers were put in long after their deaths by people obviously influenced by the Ramona book or pageant.

Most pictures I have seen of these graves are always clean with no weeds, but forgetting about all the weeds growing nearby you can tell these graves are visited often by the items that are left for them.The woman we know as Ramona Lubo was probably not born with the name of Ramona. Helen Hunt Jackson commented as if it were a major coincidence, but more than likely the woman was given the Ramona name after the popularity of the novel.
The sad truth of the matter is she lived in poverty, and reporters would come to visit her thinking of the images they got from reading the romanticed story of Ms. Jackson's book only to be shocked by this woman's appearance. She was old and not the most attractive woman in their eyes to say the list.

Ramona Lubo was able to take advantage of her fame based on the novel by making some money from the people that would visit her. For example, some postcards were made with her. There is one I have seen that has her look as if she is crying near her husbands gravesite. The Ramona Memories book by Dydia DeLyser covers some more about her in her chapter on who the "real" Ramonas.

So is this the real Ramona? Well, Helen Hunt Jackson knew about this woman since she used the murder event of Juan Diego as the basis for her fictional murder of Alessandro. Other than that, there really isn't anything else known about Ramona Lubo that would connect her to the main character of the novel. However, with that said, she can probably be identified with the main character more than anyone else just based on that historical incident.

There are a bunch of women that have been considered candidates that came from a lot of the places I have been to in this series. More than likely, the main character is a composite of many people Ms. Jackson met, or just an ideal she came up with. At the end of the day it does not matter.

As for me, this was a fun one to come to. Ironically, it was almost one of the first things I did for the series. This one goes way back before I started really thinking about putting something like this series together. At the time I was just thinking of doing this and hiking to the areas I mentioned in the parts #31 and #32. That was all I intended to present. So, I guess you could say this was really what triggered the series. Had I not been here I probably would not have done this whole series.

As I remember from that day, I was only there for about five minutes. I got there, found the graves, took a few pictures, and I was off again. We drove by the cemetery again on the way to the hikes near Mt. Cahuilla.

When I come back to this series in December I will be putting the final touches on my official canon for the series. We are coming to the end, but I still have a bunch of things I need to cover on this one before the year ends.

Ramona Epic #33: R.I.P. Ramona and Juan "Alessandro" Diego (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #33: R.I.P. Ramona and Juan "Alessanero" Diego (Vimeo Version)

The short section at the end samples Wounded by Incompetech.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ramona Epic #32: Cahuilla Mountain (Part 3)

(GPS: N33 34.425 W116 46.970)

Continuing along the trail, it got easy at this point.After a split in the trail that is supposed to take you to a spring which I did not go far enough to see, I continued up the final part of the trail as it started to elevate.The summit box to write my signature.The views were blocked by trees in some of the directions. Another reason this did not feel like a mountain climb, but I did get to see some of the main areas I was after.
looking down to the southeast.
Zooming in. We drove by this earlier in the morning to get to the trailhead.We shall be near there in #33 of this series.

This ends the mountain hike. While not a major one, it was a good relaxing one that I enjoyed doing.

Ramona Epic #32: Cahuilla Mountain (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #33: Cahuilla Mountain (Vimeo Version)

The background music for this one is called Lightless Dawn from

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ramona Epic #32: Cahuilla Mountain (Part 2)

Continuing from where I left off in the last blog, this is looking toward the east. All the roads you see were what we came up on. The road in the middle of the picture that runs from the south to the north is the one we took from the highway.This is looking back at where I had come from.

It is not too long after the above picture that the hike started to flaten out for a while. Again, this was not a major elevation hike, but it did have some uphill. It started to get a little more foresty here.
This came across as an odd site as we went through.
Speaking of odd, I thought this was so odd that I thought these types of manzanita trees had what looked like a "rubber" outside layer to them. That was my first impression of them. The outer layer of the wood had a dark red/brown look to them in such a way that they stood out as if they had just been painted. The picture does not really give you the impressions we had at the time, but it did stand out for us as we went by them.
As we continued through this area, the hike was getting easier. In the distance of the following picture you can see my brother as a small dot on the left. Originally, I thought the hike would end by climbing up to the summit just to the left of him.
That turned out not to be the case. We tried that route, but we quickly realized that was not the way. So, we got back on the path where you see him standing and continued in that direction.
I finish this one up tomorrow.

Ramona Epic #32: Cahuilla Mountain (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #33: Cahuilla Mountain (Vimeo Version)