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NateKat · November 2012

November 2012

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2012.

On the way back from Tahoe we stopped at Devi’s Postpile National Monument.  It’s a unique basalt formation located near Mammoth Lakes.

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The hexagon shaped columns were formed when the lava cooled slowly and evenly 100,000 years ago.

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This monument gets so many visitors in the summer that they restrict traffic for private vehicles and instead a park shuttle takes visitors up and down the valley. But there is a short period of time after the summer and before it is closed for snow that you can drive your own car down near the Postpile which saved us some time. It was a quick trip, just a short hike/walk to the Postpile and back because we had a lot of driving left to do, but otherwise we also would have checked out Rainbow Falls. Modern Hiker has a nice write up on a longer hike utilizing the shuttle. Next time!

As we left Mammoth and drove down Rt 395 towards Lone Pine it brought back memories from the summer of hiking including White Mountain and of course Mt. Whitney! The Sierras are massive and with a dusting of snow and the setting sun they looked incredible.

By Nathan

We took a couple days off in early October and headed up to Lake Tahoe for a photography focused vacation.  The goal for the trip was to photograph black bears, aspens, and a couple unusual rock formations.  Unfortunately we never did see any bears, which was definitely disappointing, but we saw a lot of other cool sites and enjoyed a long weekend in Tahoe.

The 10 hour drive to Tahoe was broken up with a stop at Mono Lake to check out the unusual rock salt columns protruding out of the water.  These columns (tufas) are formed by the high salinity lake’s level receding.  The lake has a salinity of 78 g/L compared to ocean saltwater at 31 g/L.

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Of course with Katharine’s planning we hit the lake right at sunset and were quickly swamped by a photography class.  You know you’re in the right place when you move your tripod and it’s quickly replaced with another.

Just down the road we enjoyed an unusual gourmet meal at a gas station, the Tioga Gas Mart and Whoa Nellie Deli.  It is a little pricey, but so much better than typical gas station food/regret.  We recommend it to anyone who’s driving along the Highway 395 south of  Tahoe, north of Mammoth or east of Yosemite.

One of the main reasons we went to the Lake Tahoe area in October was to time our visit with the Taylor Creek salmon run. Taylor Creek is unique in the fact there is a land locked salmon run where the salmon come out of Lake Tahoe and spawn upstream in Taylor Creek.  This mass exodus of salmon usually attracts the attention of many black bears in the area.

I spent a few hours every morning hiking up and down Taylor Creek looking for black bears, but as I mentioned before we didn’t see or hear about any bears that weekend.  One rainy morning I was crouched in some bushes completely hidden when 4 hikers checking out the salmon got within 20 feet of me before I waved at one of them and got a pleasing startled response.

You can see hundreds of salmon waiting their turn to jump up stream.

Click to enlarge the photo and see all the salmon

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The Taylor Creek Visitor Center also has a nice exhibit, which is a tunnel with large aquarium connected to the stream holding salmon, trout and other native species.

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The scenery around Lake Tahoe is pretty nice and is worth the trip alone.

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We also enjoyed a couple hikes in the mountains on the south side of the Lake.
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Granite Lake Hike (2.5 miles, 1,000 feet of gain), overlooking Emerald Bay

Round Lake Hike (6 miles, 1,000 feet of gain)

Every sunset we tried to position ourselves along the lake shore to get the best shot.  The first evening we started at Emerald Bay, but the mountains along that shoreline are too high leaving the bay in the shade.
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Emerald Bay
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The second evening we headed across the lake to Sand Harbor, which has unique rocks in the foreground, but the water was choppy from the wind and there weren’t any clouds to make the sky more interesting.  Although we did try some shots with a slow shutter speed, which gave kind of a mystical look to the photos.
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The last evening we went a little south of Sand Harbor and the wind cooperated, giving us the best sunset of the trip.
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We also managed to time our trip with the Aspens turning yellow. On our last day in Tahoe the mountains got a dusting of snow which made a picture perfect landscape with the aspens in the valley on the drive home.
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Despite not seeing any bears, Lake Tahoe was beautiful and we had a lot of fun getting a taste of West Coast fall. We’d love to return for summer and winter too!

Maine

by Katharine

While Nathan headed to San Diego for a fishing trip in October, I traveled to Portland, ME to visit my friend Kate. It was great to spend a long weekend with her and get to experience the beginning of Fall on the East Coast.

On Saturday we went to an excellent fall fair to see the livestock (pigs and alpaca were my favorites), handmade crafts, and eat traditional fair food (fried dough!).

Sunday we went apple picking and got fresh apple cider doughnuts, something I definitely miss in CA that was a tradition for my family growing up.

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Then we went to Wolf’s Neck State Park for some sea-side hiking. The trees were just starting to turn and the woods smelled amazing. I loved the mushrooms! Afterwards we even got to stop at the L.L. Bean store which is always fun even if you don’t buy anything.

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On my last day we visited a bunch of lighthouses and stopped for classic crab sandwiches which were of course delicious.

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Speaking of food, I have to say that Kate treated me to some amazing home-cooked meals and I got to try some new vegetables that I haven’t been adventurous for enough in the past. Beets are really good – and now I know how to cook them 🙂

It was a great vacation, mostly getting to see Kate, but the beautiful Fall in Maine didn’t hurt!

By Nathan

While Katharine traveled to the east coast I headed down the coast to San Diego to visit my family.  I met up with my brother, dad and grandpa for a half day of deep sea fishing of the coast.  I find most activities I enjoy require me to wake up before sunrise: fishing, hunting, long hikes, and wildlife photography.  Luckily I’m a morning person and if there is something worth waking up for I don’t even need an alarm clock.  We loaded up on the boat before sunrise and headed to the bait docks to load up on sardines.

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It was a beautiful fiery sunrise as the sky turned from purple to pink to orange and red.  The ocean was calm with no wind and a sunny forecast for the day ahead.  A couple years ago we went fishing for father’s day and it was cold and rainy. So, even if we didn’t catch much, as long as the weather was nicer we would consider it a success.

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The bait of the day was chopped up frozen squid!  We baited our hooks and dropped the lines overboard 200+ feet to the bottom.

 

(This is where my mom is grossed out and stops reading the post)

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It didn’t take long before my grandpa was hauling in the first fish of the day.

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The bright orange rock fish would only put up fight for the first 10-20 feet of line.  This was understandable once you brought the fish on board and could see their bodies couldn’t handle the rapid pressure change.

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Pretty soon we were all catching them – in fact the entire boat of 50 or so people were catching the spiny fish.  We weren’t too keen on the idea of rock fish for dinner so when the deck hands asked what bag number we had, we just picked random numbers, basically giving out fish to unsuspecting fisherman until my grandpa caught by a deck hand who remembered his first fake number.  We were busted, but to keep the boat count up the deck hands went along with the idea of distributing the fish amongst the other people.

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After catching a decent amount of fish we took a break to share jokes and stories while others kept dropping their lines over hoping for the big one.  There was some commotion from the back of the boat and as I got a closer look it was a pale looking sea monster thrashing in the water.

Wolf Eel

The fisherman broke the line and the monster slithered back to the bottom of the sea.  The eel was probably 5 feet long and it made you wonder what else was down there and I was glad to be on the boat. Later the boat jumped in excitement when a young guy next to us hooked onto a yellow fin tuna.  It gave him a good 30 minute fight and ended up being almost 30 pounds.  It was the largest fish I’ve ever seen caught in real life and was pretty amazing how the thin fishing line could have the strength to hold a fish that strong.  To top off the great story, the guy was from Arizona and this was the first time he’s seen the ocean!  I’m sure he’ll be telling that story for the rest of his life.

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After a long morning of fishing and storytelling we headed back to the docks.  While headed back to shore, the deck hands clean the fish and throw the unwanted parts overboard creating a feeding frenzy for the seagulls and pelicans.  I used the oppotunity to get some close up photos of pelicans flying next to the boat.

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That afternoon we headed to the beach to watch my dad surf with his new board.

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My dad grew up in San Diego and spent many days surfing so this was nothing new, but the last time we took photos and video it was on actual film and VHS.  The waves were okay, but it’s hard to capture a lifetime hobby in a 2 hour window.

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I’m sure I’ll be taking many photos and videos in the future and hopefully next time I’ll have a new telephotos lens!

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It was a fun weekend packed full of fishing, surfing, jokes and best of all old stories.

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