Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mile High Overlook and Mammoth Pool Reservoir

Dale Matson

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Mammoth Pool Reservoir

From Fresno, I took Highway 41 north to County Highway 200 to North Fork. From there I took Mammoth Pool Road out of North Fork I believe it is also called Minarets Road or the Scenic Byway Road. Mammoth Pool Reservoir is about 1.5 hours from North Fork. The three forks of the San Joaquin River have already joined by the time it flows into the reservoir.  is As you climb the first scenic pullout is where you can view Redinger Lake Reservoir from far above.

Redinger Lake Reservoir

After this there is a long winding climb that takes you through a huge burn area (the French Fire of 2014). Eventually you will come to what is called “Mile High Curve” There is a wide area with a pull out to view Mammoth Pool below and the Ritter Range of the Sierra Nevada about 25 miles as the eagle fly’s. It was a beautiful sight on a clear day with lots of snow remaining in the mountains. Less than a mile further there is a picnic area with a viewing area with a sign that identifies the mountains you are viewing. As you face the mountains there is an interesting cluster of granite domes on your left called, “Eagles Beaks”.

 Mammoth Pool At 97% Capacity

 Banner And Ritter

 Mammoth Mountain Can You See The Gondola House On Top?

 Chiquito Creek
 Eagles Beaks

It is still about 20 miles of descent to Mammoth Pool Reservoir with campgrounds along the route. There is a tall bridge across Chiquito Creek, which is quite full as I write this. There is a resort store near the boat ramp called “Wagner’s”. I was on a search for a missing lady there who went missing for three days. We located her and her dog on the 3rd day and she was weak but did not require hospitalization. There are additional campsites near the lake with the boat ramp being about 3 more miles below the store.

The gate was closed to the boat ramp so my son Ben and I walked down to the lake. Some other access points are closed for fishing and boating till June. Before Memorial Weekend when the store opens, the road and entire area is sparsely traveled.

I used a Sony A7R2 and an adapted Canon 400mm f4 lens with a 1.4X extender for some of the shots. I also used a Batis 85 1.8, Batis 18 2.8, and Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 for Sony e-mount.

A YouTube video of photographs and movie clips on this drive can be found here:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grant Grove Area Of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Dale Matson
Highway 180 out of Fresno CA provides quick access (about an hour) to the Grant Grove Giant Sequoia area of the park and there a sights in the vicinity of Grant Grove too. The road to Panoramic Point near the Muir Lodge in Grant Grove is closed due to snow this time of year but can be accessed by snowshoes or skis. Here is an article about Panoramic Point.
The Grant Grove area also has an information center, camping permits, and restaurant and gift shop. The actual grove area access is just beyond there. There are nicely laid out trails that wind through the giant trees just off the parking area.

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

Another area near the Grant Grove is the vista point accessed by driving south on the General’s Highway a few miles. A careful look from there also reveals the Buck Rock fire lookout in the distance. It is a great place to visit when it is open in summer.

There is also Sequoia Lake, which is just outside the park and site of a YMCA camp. Finally, in the spring of the year there are lovely views approaching the park gate of the surrounding foothills and a waterfall along the road.

If one has a limited amount of time, these sites are available and not far from each other.
The photographs were taken with the Sony A7R2, an adapted Canon 400 f4 (Buck Rock) a Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 and a Zeiss Batis 18mm 2.8.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sequoia National Park: The Giant Forest And Moro Rock Area

Dale Matson

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Kaweah Peaks Ridge

For this trip, it is best to enter Sequoia Park via the south gate. The park headquarters is located nearby. A helipad is also located there, which is often the beginning of search and rescue efforts in the park. I was flown from there to Crabtree Meadows to search for a missing day hiker attempting to summit Mt. Whitney. It takes about 1.5 hours to get to the south gate from Fresno taking Highway 99 south and 198 east through Visalia and Three Rivers. You pass the road to Mineral King, which is closed in the winter. It may be the slowest mountain drive I have ever experienced taking 90 minutes to go 23 miles. When the General’s Highway is fully open (there are winter closures that limit travel) one could take Highway 180 east from Fresno and shortly after entering the park head south on the General’s Highway.
This has been an excellent snow year and passing by Kaweah Lake, it appeared nearly full. The Kaweah River was also full and fast. There have already been two drowning’s in the park in the Kaweah River this year. The Kaweah River is about 60 miles in length and has five forks with the middle fork (main fork) headwaters at Precipice Lake (Hamilton Lakes).
Once in the park, the General’s Highway climbs north along the Kaweah River with several pullouts for beautiful views as you climb. You will also pass the entrance to Crystal Cave along the way, which is closed in winter. It is about 16 slow miles from the park entrance to the Giant Forest. The largest living thing, The General Sherman Giant Sequoia is located in this grove and it is a bit of a hike on a paved path to get there from the parking area with quite a climb back out!
Moro Rock parking is available nearby but when the tourist season begins, you will need to park your vehicle near the General’s Highway and take a bus in or hike a trail. I have taken a bus to Moro Rock and hiked the trail back to my vehicle.
It is about a mile round trip climb on stairs built into the rock. If you are afraid of heights or out of shape, this not an experience for you. Portions of the climb are quite exposed. It is a panorama but of the times I have been there, I don’t believe there has ever been a really clear view. Hazy skies are the norm unless it has recently rained. This is especially true looking west toward Kaweah Lake. The view east is lovely with the Kaweah Peaks Ridge prominent. If you can visit on a weekday, there will be less traffic.

Kaweah Lake With Moro Rock And Alta Peak Above

 Moro Rock From General's Highway
 Black Kaweah Center

Alta Peak

 General's Highway Below Moro Rock
Kaweah Lake In The Hazy Distance
 Kaweah River