Deer Tracks in Mud, North Peak Reflecting in Pond
full print size of 22.6x29.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/138
Copyright © David Senesac 2003 view detailed crop
Hoover Wilderness, Toyabe National Forest, Mono County
mid morning Wednesday September 17, 2003, slide 03X2-11
Pentax 67 AEII, 55-100 zoom, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 220 film to 200mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature bottom left
The scene is in the 20 Lakes Basin above Saddlebag Lake reservoir just east of Tioga Pass at the Yosemite border. This location is about a couple miles from the reservoir trailhead. It is a sparsely timbered headwaters region of Lee Vining Creek above 10,000 feet. Glaciers filled the basin and flowed east down both Mill and Lee Vining Creeks into enormous Pleistocene epoch Lake Russell the remnant of which is today alkaline Mono Lake. Those glaciers scoured and flattened the granite and metamorphic bedrock here such that it left many rock depressions that have become the lakes and ponds in the basin. Such alpine areas of the Sierra Nevada in the fall often have turfy areas with fall foliage changed red patches of dwarf bilberry. Thus one sunny morning in mid September I explored the basin to find aesthetic dwarf bilberry foregrounds for the surrounding peaks.
The large mountain at right is North Peak at 12,242 feet and in the back at its left about 2 miles distant is more widely known Mount Conness at 12,590 feet. These peaks lay on the Sierra Crest, which forms the eastern border of Yosemite National Park with the eastern side of the crest here within the Hoover Wilderness. All the winter snows from 2003 had melted by this late summer date leaving the icy remnant glaciers seen here at the base of the cliff like northern headwalls. The old snow has a gray hue from a considerable amount of granite rock debris. One can also make out a line atop the Conness Glacier, which is a bergschrund, where the moving ice breaks away from its headwall. It is one of the largest of the small remnant glaciers in the Sierra Nevada at over one mile in width. In front of and being pushed by the glaciers are talus fields of rock debris. To the side of one of those porous talus fields below North Peak, seeping water over monolithic bedrock provides a contrasting darkened zone with turfy vegetation.
Avalanches down North Peak's headwall chip away the granite forming chutes, which at this time of year form aesthetic shadowed fluting.
In the foreground this tiny unnamed pond has nearly dried up. The darker rock here is metasedimentary Mesozoic Era marine deposits. It formed at a time when the ancient seashore of our North American continent was east of this area in Nevada and thus before any mountains existed. In the drying yellow turfy area behind the pond is the dwarf bilberry, vaccinium caespitosum, I came looking for. In this image it adds a nice red touch of color at the center of the frame including some of the reflection. These dwarf bilberry are just inches high but have interconnected roots so the whole patch may be just one plant. A few whitebark pine, pinus albicaulis, are behind the turf, stunted at a height below the usual winter snow depth. Branches that stick out of the snow are broken off by the high storm winds. In the distance on the left shoulder of North Peak, the green patches are also whitebarks. At the lower frame edge in the mud one can see a few fallen brown needles from such pines. Also in the mud are imprints of deer hooves. From the track's freshness I guessed the deer had taken a drink here earlier this same morning. When I set down my tripod a number of frog tadpoles scurried about in the pool, one of which can be clearly discerned in the light tan patch of mid left.
Anchoring the lower right corner of the frame was a nice color addition of a rusty piece of granite. My camera was positioned to optimize the reflection of North Peak in the frame while including both peaks and the interesting foreground mud.