Hiking Mineral King – Eagle Lake, part 2

The rock section of the Eagle Lake Trail is very challenging if you were just expecting a little walk in the woods. Sometimes you have to wiggle your feet between some boulders, sometimes you have to just guess where the trail might be, sometimes you walk on a slab of granite, and none of it is very easy.

There are rewards: this is “Heather”.

After the rocks, there is another section that I forgot about. It isn’t too hard, but you have to watch your step because of all the roots. Trail Guy said there needs to be more “trail checks”, which are things that catch rocks and dirt when water is flowing down the trail; otherwise, all the fill dirt washes down the trail, exposing the roots of the trees (none of which show in this photo- you’ll have to trust me on this.)

Eagle Lake is one of 4 lakes dammed by the Mt. Whitney Power Company so they could control the water flow for producing electricity. Trail Guy is heading out over the dam; doesn’t it look like a lovely inviting path?

Welcome to Eagle Lake. Wish I’d brought some M&Ms. We earned them.

Trouble is, now we have to retrace our steps.

I think of the Eagle Lake Trail as “roots and shoots”, because there are zillions of roots to trip over, and all those rocks required lots of shooting with explosives to make the trail. The evidence is in those star-ish shaped dealies on the rocks.

“Ridiculous!”, said Trail Guy, about the condition of the trail.

The vertical meadow below the sinkhole and above the trail junction to White Chief was still full of a variety of wildflowers.So interesting that Eagle Lake is the most popular Mineral King hike destination, and it is probably the very worst trail. Our conclusion is that people like the name, have no idea what they are getting into (it’s only 2.4 miles one way – how bad could that be?? Try 2+ hours to walk it and then decide for yourself!), and most people want to go to lakes.

Hiking Mineral King – Eagle Lake

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Photography | 2 Comments

Remember that I said the last time I saw Eagle Lake it was empty because some stupid hon-yock opened the dam? I didn’t want that to be my last view of the place, so I told Trail Guy I wanted to go there, and I hoped he would join me. 

He consented. I asked why he dislikes that hike so much; his reply is that the trail bed is horrible.

As usual, he was right.

We started around 8:45 a.m. on the Eagle/Mosquito Trail. It’s 1/2 miles from our cabin to the junction of White Chief Canyon. 

This is the prettiest area of the trail – flat, usually full of wildflowers, running water alongside the trail, shade, and TONS OF MOSQUITOES! So unfair. . .

Was it just 2 weeks ago that this meadow was completely full of Jeffrey Shooting Star? Now it is full of knotweed, but it is white so makes no impression in a photo.

We climbed through an area I had completely forgotten about. I knew the rocks were coming, and forgot about this buffer zone.

See? The rocks.

I looked back at Sawtooth and its shadow, but I didn’t turn into a pillar of salt.

Apparently the rocks aren’t all that stable.

After I navigated over/around this big boy, I caught up to Trail Guy standing by this:

I said, “WESTERN EUPATORIUM! I haven’t seen this in years, and the last time was on the Franklin Lake trail!”

Trail Guy probably thought I was a little delirious.

To be continued. . .

The Tree is Finished

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Is the oak tree mural finished?? I think it is, although until the customer sees it (and my oak tree expert says it is believable), the question remains unanswered. 

It took about 20 hours to paint. All that time was alone except for the busy nice man from Delta Liquid Gas, a brief hello from a friend and a check-up by the property manager. I listened to Truman, written and read by David McCullough, listened to music (prolly a little dangerous to listen to “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” while on the top of an extension ladder), began listening to an updated audio version of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (and someone else from the 21st century who applied Carnegie’s principles to the digital era) and spent a lot of time staring and thinking. Building a tree to look believable when none of my tree photos are the right shape takes a lot of thought.

Feeling fairly satisfied with the right side, I focused on the left side. I studied various areas, came up with thoughts like “too narrow, too short, too empty”, then climbed the ladder and tried to remember which thought applied to which area.

This shows twigs now added above the register.

The horizontal branch is too short, too narrow and too empty.

After the left side was done, most of the changes were just tiny adjustments, widening a branch here, adding a few more twigs there, touching up the drips, and just generally polishing things.

FINISHED! (Finished??)

Yep, 3 ladders in the Jeep! (Not my Jeep – I try to work for money, not for fun, I want my money when my work is done.) The extension ladder came with the job; the other 3 are mine. A muralist needs ladders (or a scissor lift, or a scaffold, or a big flatbed truck). 

A Tree Continues Growing in Three Rivers

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

On Day Two of the oak tree mural in Three Rivers, I walked to work, because I didn’t have to haul any paint. That is another benefit of working indoors – all supplies are secure overnight.

Yup. Looked the same on Day 2 as it did when I left at the end of Day 1.

On one of my many breaks, I took this photo through the sliding glass doors. You can see Alta Peak (the elephant!) and Moro Rock. The unsightly palm tree will be going away. And now the house across the street is also for sale – will it also become a vacation rental?? Time will tell. . .

I spent the day studying the mural from below, climbing up the ladder and working until I got confused and too hot. Then I’d climb down again, study the mural some more and make a next step branching plan, figure out which ladder needed to be moved next, reload my palette, and climb back up.

The extension ladder needed to go up another notch, which meant it bumps the ceiling each time I move it. Not complainin’, just ‘splainin’. 

In spite of the air conditioner working hard all day (and it was only about 99º, not in the triples), it was HOT HOT HOT up at ceiling level.

The stroke of brilliance looks really great in the late afternoon light coming in the window.

At the end of Day Two, this is what I had. I fattened the trunk, fattened lots of branches, and climbed up and down all day.

It seemed as if three days would do the trick.

A Tree Grows in Three Rivers

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 4 Comments

A Tree Grows in Three Rivers? Hokey, I know, and I can’t even remember what A Tree Grows In Brooklyn was about.

This is a commissioned mural inside of a home 2 doors away from me. It recently sold and will become yet another vacation rental in a town and neighborhood that is jammed full of such units. But that is a topic for another day, and probably another forum.

Working indoors is a pleasure – climate control, flat surface to stand on, consistent lighting, tunes or an audio book on my old laptop (why didn’t Apple include a CD slot in their new laptops?? – I get SO TIRED of “upgrades”, but again, a topic for another forum.)

This is what I found when I unlocked the door on Monday a.m. (a week ago). The carpet will be replaced, so no tarp was necessary. Weird.

This is outside the house and will have a human sized chess board, which I might be painting next.

I procrastinated a bit before beginning. Giant blank walls are intimidating.

I measured the height of the ceiling, because inquiring minds need to know. 14′. I climbed up the extension ladder and dropped a vertical so I could begin building the oak tree around it. It is the same method I use when drawing trees with pencil on paper (not with blue chalk – just a light pencil line).

The extension ladder was a bit cumbersome, so I went home for my own ladders.

After a bit of staring and thinking, I gave myself some more blue chalk guidelines.

A normal way to paint a mural is from the top down, but trees grow in the opposite direction.

There never is the perfect photo of the perfect tree, so I used all my oak tree photos to remind myself of the bark texture and the branching patterns. It is slow, thinky work.

This was a stroke of brilliance!

The raised hearth is helpful in boosting short ladders.

At the end of day one, this is what 

Trail Guy’s Favorite Mineral King Hike

Sometimes I have to be down the hill, feeding Samson, watering the yard, blogging, drawing, taking care of business, fulfilling promises. Meanwhile, Trail Guy the Retiree is in Mineral King, hiking and taking photos for me to put on my blog.

His favorite place to go is White Chief. Mine too, unless it is the junction of the Franklin/Farewell Gap trails, or Farewell Gap itself. The lakes might could be, but we don’t go there much so I can’t remember. (I might could go there, but I’ll prolly be down the hill at the liberry instead.)

And sometimes Trail Guy comes home, especially if the Giants are on teevee.

Not the Giants; Samson wants to know why the Giants’ games are blocked out in our zip code.

Drawing in Mineral King

Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 in drawing, Mineral King | 2 Comments

Back in the olden days when I could see without cheater magnifier glasses or a giant magnifying light, I used to draw at the cabin. I even had a drafting table upstairs underneath a north-west facing window for light.

It has been quite a few years since that was an adequate arrangement. I sold the table and stopped trying to work without electricity.

However, last week I wanted to get some work done and be out of the triple-digit heat. Since a 2018 calendar printing deadline is looming, I decided to give drawing at the cabin another try. The calendar will be all about water in Tulare County, and water doesn’t require a T-square or precise measurements, the way architectural subjects do.

It has been so long since I drew up the hill that my favorite brand of pencils has changed from Turquoise to Mars Staedtler. I had no Mars, so I used a Palomino Blackwing. 

Grandpa’s magnifying glass helped. I took the drawing home, and perfected things under the giant magnifying light before scanning and doing the Photoshop prep for the 2018 calendar.


This was definitely a successful experiment, so we celebrated with a BBQ’d pizza for dinner. No way was I cooking that in the woodstove – it would get as hot in the kitchen as it is down the hill!

Curious about Palomino Blackwing pencils? I got them through Amazon, of course.



Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 in drawing, the business of art | 4 Comments

Some people are early adopters of new technology; I am not one of them. I tried Facebook and it was all I feared it would be – 1/4″ deep, 6 miles wide, and a giant thief of time, energy and brains. My sister and her daughter suggested Instagram. There were techie obstacles, such as not owning a smartphone. (Nope, a borrowed Jitterbug doesn’t take photos).

I signed up for a private account to practice and connect with my family. The privacy settings weren’t private, so now my private family account has 2 extra folks. The “extras” are real life friends, not strangers, so I didn’t panic; I learned. 

Against the advice of my most techie friend, I set up an Instagram account for my business. It was against her advice because she believes Facebook is the most useful for people and businesses, and doesn’t think Instagram will work.

My niece thinks hashtags are key. I know nothing. Hashtags are weird, the word itself is weird (“hashtag”? It’s a number sign or a pound sign, for Pete’s sake!), and people who put that word in front of other words when they speak sound weird.

I am willing to learn and to try. It seems like the right place for someone who deals in pictures. People don’t get mean on Instagram, attack others for opposing political views, or show what they had for dinner, at least not as much as on Facebook; perhaps I am delusional and ignorant. (definitely ignorant)

My business Instagram handle (“Handle”? What do you think this is – a CB radio from the ’70s??) is JanaBotkinArt. The account is public. You are welcome to follow. You are welcome to express your opinion and to offer advice.

I’m just learning here. . .

Ten-four, Good Buddy. Over and out.

Pencil drawing, “Mineral King From The Bridge”, 9×12″, one of the posts on my new Instagram account, complete with hashtags.

Mineral King Wildflowers for Carol

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | No Comments

Happy Birthday, Carol! These flowers are for you today.

Hiking Mineral King – Farewell Gap

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | No Comments

Two days after Trail Guy went to Farewell Gap via a loop, we returned together with our new best hiking buddy Jessica. The point of the hike was to see Sky Pilot, an elusive high-elevation flower that we’ve never seen anywhere except Farewell Gap (not that we go anywhere outside of Mineral King. . .)

Here are my photos of that trip.

The flowers are still great at the “Junction Cafe”. This time we didn’t stop here for lunch but just kept heading up and up and up.

A previously-ignored or never-before-noticed, not-in-the-books yellow wildflower

This reminded us of marigolds, and if I can’t find it in any book, I will simply title it myself: Mountain Marigold.

I think this is the same thing, looking down from the top. Most of them had 3 sections of petals.

Stonecrop? Nope, that’s yellow. This is an unknown high-altitude succulent.

More unknown high-altitude succulents.

Blue Lips are still in bloom up high. This is late for them!

Identify yourself, Unknown Shrub!

The lupine up on Farewell Gap have white accents, and the penstemon is a color I’ve never seen it in before.

Sky Pilot – THIS is why we hiked 6.7 miles one way, uphill.

I was thinking of this hat as a Lupine-head, but Jessica wore it in honor of the Sky Pilot.

I felt sort of tired, and thought, “How disappointing, I’m out of shape”. It later occurred to me that middle-aged people who are truly out of shape don’t hike 13+ miles in one day at high altitudes (or low ones either).

Sorry, Trail Guy – no one will come by to give you a lift back down to the cabin.

Jess and me with the Golden Trout Wilderness/Forest Service land behind us.

Jessica and me with Timber Gap in the background.

Franklin Creek continues to flow strongly, but it is easy to ford now.