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.

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.

Thoughts After a 40th Class Reunion

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Personal, Thoughts | 9 Comments

My 40th class reunion from Redwood High School in Visalia just happened. I have a list of thoughts pertaining to the event.

  1. Spouses from other schools don’t belong – they are bored, and people generally don’t come to reunions to see who other people married.
  2. I only saw one person scrolling through his phone (a bored spouse).
  3. No one gave me a business card, but I handed out many.
  4. It is good to stay sober at reunions.
  5. You can wear anything you want – shorts, jeans, fancy pants, dresses, high school logo tee shirts – it is merely an expression of one’s personality. (There were no leggings, thank goodness, because leggings are NOT pants!)
  6. Women seem to be aging better than men, but this is probably because hair accounts for 90% of one’s appearance, and most women color theirs (I am one of the exceptions, and no one cared or noticed.)
  7. Loud music and low lights make the experience less enjoyable.
  8. Less rah-rah (silly prizes for non-essentials like the most tattoos or youngest spouse) would give us more time to study faces, remember names and reconnect.
  9. It would be very interesting to know where people live, what their interests are, and what they do for a living.
  10. Everyone is thin and beautiful in high school – the video confirmed this.
  11. A class of 410 is too large to know or remember.
  12. The most interesting people to reconnect with are those from elementary or junior high. . . those with the longest history together.
  13. The most precious friends are those we are in touch with currently – our friends in real life.
  14. Skipping the class reunion when you live in the same town seems rude, especially to those who travelled great distances to come.
  15. Those who went away and then returned to the area usually did so to be near aging parents.
  16. Instead of silly or generic prizes, it would be good to get things from classmates who own businesses.
  17. There was a prize for the classmate who has changed the least – it wasn’t given to a woman who looked the same but instead it was given to the woman who looked the hottest and youngest!
  18. It would be very fun to have a list of everyone’s interests, jobs, locations, websites, emails, blogs, etc. . .

Since you have made it to the end of my list, I will reward you with a picture of my very smart spouse who had the wisdom to stay home instead of attending a party where he would have been bored half to death. I will return the favor when his class reunites for their 50th (in 4 years, in case you were wondering).

Oh Say. . .

Posted by on Jul 4, 2017 in Oil Paintings, Personal | 8 Comments

. . .Can you see that we live in a fabulous country?

Oh Say, oil painting on canvas, 6×6″, sold

Random Thoughts

Today’s post is a list of random thoughts, unrelated to art, things that one of my tens of readers might be interested in.

  1. Crocs shrink if you leave them in the sun. Mine are too short to wear now. Isn’t that weird? Rubber shoes shrink in the sun! (maybe it is related to #2. . .))
  2. After it has been 107º for a week, 97º feels balmy.
  3. I’m editing a previously published book about the Visalia Electric Railroad. It was first published in a hurry, the Tulare Co. Historical Society is ready to re-order, and author Louise Jackson and I know we can do a better job of both the text and the photos. So, we are working on it and hope the TCHS will agree to publish it in a real book format instead of 8-1/2×11″ with dark photos, “Foreword” misspelled, the stock market crash happening in 1939, and someone joining Pancho Villa’s cantina band, as if he were a guitar player. Intrigued? I’ll let you know if this turns into a book.  
  4. What I’m reading (or recently finished): 41:A Portrait of My Father by George W. BushBritt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik BackmanMornings on Horseback by David McCulloughAlone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other by Sherry Turkle (If you click or tap on any of the book titles, you’ll get to the Amazon page that sells the book. If you buy, I might earn 15¢ or something. . .)
  5. Samson still bites.
  6. What I’m listening to: The Smartest Person in the Room, Brian Buffini, Gretchen Rubin, The Road Back to You, What Should I Read Next
  7. No memorial services this week for me. 2 in 2 weeks is 2 too many.
  8. I think white flowers are boring. Did you think this post was boring? (Go ahead–tell me the truth; I can take it!)

Ranger Buttons, a white wildflower


Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in drawing, Lessons, Personal | 9 Comments

Jennifer Logan was a friend of mine for about 30 years. We met in Lemon Cove at the Womans Club (yes, that is the correct spelling); I was taken with her English accent and for some reason, she liked me. She called me “Janner” and referred to herself as “Jennifa”, which tickled my fancy. 

When my studio first was public, I shared space in a very fine gift shop called “Shirley’s Home” in Exeter, before Exeter had murals. Shirley hired someone each year to help us during Christmas, and for a handful of years we had the pleasure of working with Jennifer. It was during one of those times that Jennifer suggested to me that I publish a book of my art, which became The Cabins of Mineral King.

Left to right: me, Jennifer, Shirley – 1994? 1995? 1996?

I followed Jennifer to Foothill Fruit in Lemon Cove; the next year after working a temporary job at the Lindcove Field Station, they offered me a full time job, so I recommended Jennifer, who lived around the corner. A few years later, after I finished a temporary job at the Citrus Research Board, Jennifer went full time there.

There were also two years when I needed crutches several times, and Jennifer was always there with a pair for me to borrow. We laughed about it, and sympathized with one another while being thankful it was always for temporary conditions. She didn’t mind when I confessed using them to get into the neighbor’s swimming pool (only as deep as the top step.) 

About five years ago, Jennifer asked me if she could take drawing lessons. I was astonished and delighted. She had done photo retouching and also set-painting in her life, but had a desire to try my style of drawing. It was a pleasure to meet with her each week, to have that regular time together. She began with this peony, which she later came to dislike (we call that “growth”!) (Jennifer, I’m sorry for showing this, but not sorry enough to not show how you increased in skill.)

We joked quite a bit about how she chose difficult subjects, working from photos that were too small to see the detail or just plain challenging in other ways. She was always cheerful and sometimes cynical at the same time, which would make us laugh.

She loved gardening, reading, horses, her dogs and cats, and her grandchildren. This is Anna, and although I haven’t met her, Jennifer said she caught the likeness.

Jennifer joined some of the secret oil painting workshops (given just for my drawing students, not open to the general public). She definitely marched to her own drumbeat – when everyone else painted pomegranates, she painted a buoy. When the class painted redwood trees, she painted a cat.

Her drawing classmates bugged her to try a redwood tree in pencil, so that was the project she was currently working on. She referred to it as “wood with leaves” and when I would correct her with, “Needles”, she would say, “Whatever”. Then we’d look at each other and snicker, and I’d call her a closet tree hugger.

Jennifer was the only person who called Trail Guy “Mikey”, and he liked her so much that he just accepted it. My dad used to tease her about her accent and call it “a speech impediment”, and she was always gracious with his offbeat sense of humor.

A few months ago, Jennifer surprised me by inviting “Mikey” and me to her upcoming birthday party. For the first time in almost 30 years, she actually told me her age, which was also a surprise. I said, “Jennifer, you could be my mother, and it wouldn’t even be a scandal! I had no idea.”

On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Jennifer surprised us all by moving to Heaven. She went quickly with no fuss, no 911 calls, no tubes, no hospital indignities, and no warning. 

Jennifer Logan, you were a dear friend and I choose to be grateful for the time we had. “See you, Sweets”, as you used to say to me.

Opening Mineral King 2017

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal | 6 Comments

Mineral King officially opened on Wednesday, May 24. This is remarkable, considering it was a huge winter. Most of the reason it is open is because Trail Guy borrowed a backhoe and spent 120 hours of volunteer work to fight through the avalanches. This made it possible for the Park’s road guy to do the basics in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Fantastic water flow as seen from the bridge at the end of the road, AKA Mineral King Bridge

Bless those older generations of cabin folks who planted daffodils!

The parking lot at the end of the road is boggy, but Trail Guy is also Retired Road Guy and we rigged up a barricade.

Whoa. This is the beginning of the Eagle/Mosquito trail. The Park’s sign took a hit. Your feet might get wet heading this direction. (Might get wet heading any direction.)

Our cabin had a ton of snow on the front porch (and the back porch too). Trail Guy is resourceful, and after I spent an hour or more shoveling, he thought of this tool.


Spring Walk in Three Rivers

About a mile from my home in Three Rivers there is an extensive area of BLM land. There are several ways to get there, all of them a little ambiguous, but the place is still well-used and loved by mountain bikers, casual walkers, hard-core walkers, photographers, and horse-back riders. The place is called “BLM”, “Salt Creek”, and “Case Mountain”. I tend to call it “top of Skyline”. Sometimes, just walking to the opening gate is enough exercise for me, so when I want to get far out on the trails, I drive to the beginning.

Enjoy some photos from a recent excursion, where I went farther than I have for a year or two. (To a view of the second waterfall!)

Hmmm, I seem to have a pattern of photographing animals as they stick out their tongues.

Eggs, One More Time

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Oil Paintings, Personal | No Comments

Before we have one more little talk about eggs, here is Samson, in case you were wondering.Ethan’s eggs are so interesting to me that I took many photos and started 2 new paintings. These are in the category of This Looks A Little Bit Too Hard So I Will Challenge Myself.

The little plate will really test my ability to control a paintbrush and see elliptical shapes. 

The egg needs to become the right color. Why? The current color is believable, but I am always testing my ability to mix colors accurately. And that plate might just be the undoing of me.

Meanwhile, Samson is testing himself while neighbor dog Tombo is oblivious.