Orange Lichen, Summit Lake, Mount Ritter, Banner Peak, Mount Lyell

Orange Lichen Summit Lake Mount Ritter, Banner Peak, Mount Lyell

full print size of 27.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2004   view detailed crop

geranium Ansel Adams Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Madera County
mid morning Sunday July 4, 2004, slide 04-O-21
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 90mm Rodenstock, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature mid right bottom          

During Fourth of July weekend in 1989 several of us were camped near this spot up above Summit Lake. I had a good chance to explore the area and noted a number of nice volcanic outcrops covered with bright orange lichen. Thus 15 years later on this same holiday, one friend from that same trip joined me on a return trip. Actually we had been more interested in photographing Thousand Island Lake where we spent the previous day. However the wildflower conditions were a wee bit early there, so we opted to pack over to this area further back from the peaks. Friday some violent thunderstorms had us pinned down inside our tents for a couple hours. With more storms threatening Saturday, we had camped in the dense grove of pines at the back right side of the below lake. During the night an easily spooked black bear visited to add some excitement. Here on Sunday we packed up our gear preparing for the hike back to the trailhead, waited for sun to rise above San Joaquin Ridge behind this position, then went to work for a few hours with our cameras.

I liked this spot because it silhouetted pines against Summit Lake's dark blue waters. There were a number of phlox plants before me like well manicured bonsai trees as well as orange lichen on the considerable dark purple andesite rock about this area. Andesite is one type of volcanic rock aka igneous rock that contains little lighter silica minerals and more dark heavier iron rich minerals. These andesite flows have been dated between 2.2 and 3.6 million years old. This view is due west. To the east is a large area of volcanic geology named Mono Craters.

In the background is the northern section of the Ritter Range consisting of dark metamorphosized Triassic-Jurassic Period volcanic geology about 200 million years old. Mount Ritter at 13,147 feet and 4.4 miles distant at the left frame edge is the highest peak this far north in the Sierra Nevada. Six tenths of a mile in front, a bit to the right, is Banner Peak at 12,936 feet which is the magnificent peak one sees from the shores of Thousand Island Lake.

At this early time of summer much snow still remains to melt, however several snowfields below these two peaks are permanent including the small glacier on Ritter's left flanks. North of Banner is a cross country saddle, North Glacier Pass, then a long flat ridge ending in Mt. Davis at 12,303. Further right is pyramidal Rogers Peak at 12,978 then Mt. Lyell at 13,114 at the Yosemite National Park boundary 7 miles distant, the highest peak in that park and that far north. All the middle ground banded strata of monolithic rock exhibit considerable smoothing from many glacial periods during the last million years. Note the slightly pink layer of rock at the left frame edge.

Six lakes can be seen in this frame. Summit Lake near center is at 9,830 feet. In the forest below left, one half mile distant, the patch of blue is the main lake at 9,615 feet of the seven small lake collection named Badger Lakes. A dark area slightly left is another of those lakes. Directly above the right most snowfield behind Summit Lake is a forest area. Above the forest is a bare rock zone then a small white lens of snow. Directly above the snow is a small blue area of an unnamed lake on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River where we camped the previous day. The Pacific Crest Trail routes beside that water. A bit higher is a flat area with greenery starting 1.5 miles distant, large famous Thousand Island Lake. To the left is a rounded dome with a section of the back end of the 1.5 mile long lake visible on its left side. Directly below Banner Peak is an area of rusty rock with a snowfield partially in shadows. The lowest white area at the trees is a reflection in little Ruby Lake of that snowfield. The John Muir Trail passes beside pretty Ruby Lake. John Muir was also the first to summit Mount Ritter.

Most trees in this view are lodgepole pines, pinus murrayana, with some reddish trunks of mountain hemlock, tsuga mertensiana, here and there. What a delightful holiday morning!

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   David Senesac

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