This year, thanks to my generous mother, I was able to attend the (usually) annual family gathering/camping trip to a place up in the high sierras my Grandfather and Great Uncle found 50+ years ago called Jackass Meadows. Without fail, every time the name of where we camp comes up in conversation with someone new, I get a laugh and/or an odd look. I swear people, I am not making the name of this place up!
See, it’s right here! http://g.co/maps/zp2g2
The name is derived from the wild donkeys that inhabit the meadows below Florence Lake. I have actually caught glimpses of them (along with wild horses) on previous trips. No such luck this time.
I wanted to share some pics I took this trip. Along with learning about shooting in RAW format, I had two photographic techniques I wanted to play with this go-round, taking HDR (High Dynamic Range) images and panoramics. I am more pleased with my panoramic results then the HDRs. My DSLR is several generations old, so it can only take a 3-shoot HDRs. I’m not sure if that’s why I am not getting the depth in my pictures I was hoping for, or if its just my lack of advanced PS skills.
My favorite panoramic: (click for larger view)
This is the actual Jackass Meadow itself. This year there had been record amounts of snow melt. So much so that the river crossing we still closed in early August because of spill-off from the dam at Florence Lake. What you can’t see in this pic, is the several inches of standing water all through the grassy portion of the meadow. It was quite a slog to get from this rock back to the game trail I took to get to the meadow. About 1/2 way back I started thinking about snakes hiding in the marshy grass…bad thing to think about when your our hiking alone with only a 1-1/2 year old for company.
This is a shot of Tombstone from the road below Florence Lake on the way to the river crossing:
This portion of the road is really straight, but because I took the pics all from the same spot, it looks curved. The meadow from the picture above this one is off through the trees and over some large rocks to the left a ways.
The river crossing:
Hard to really tell from this pic, but the river wasn’t even 2 ft deep at its lowest point. My baby was able to walk across it and it didn’t even make it up to her waist. We were told by a ranger that if there is even the potential for a dam spill (which it was spilling the day we got there), they will not open the crossing. Very sad since we had to camp in the public campgrounds (yuck!), but still, we were in one of the most beautiful places on earth, so it was hard to be too upset. I was mad at myself with this picture because I did not keep my camera level and cut off the top of the mountain in the background.
This is my favorite of all the HDRs I did. It was processed from RAW and merged in PS. The others below were JPEGS (processed by the camera) and just merged in PS. (Didn’t realize I could merge straight from RAW until I processed this last HDR). I am still not so happy with the shadow areas in the trees to the left. They just seem off to me.
This is actually from another meadow who’s name I dont know that we pass coming up and down Kaiser Pass Rd before the split to Mono Hot Springs or Florence Lake. Sometime when we are not in a hurry to get to the camp or get home I want to stop and walk though this meadow to the far side and see what there is to see.
If you want to see more of my photos from this trip, you can see the full set over at my Flickr site. Warning, there are pics of The Bean, and her cuteness can be overwhelming.
P.S. Just so all the world knows and there can never be a question, when I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes spread in Jackass Meadow. There is no more prefect place in the world then this slice of uninhabited wilderness 7000+ft above sea level. Don’t make people take handfuls of me though. Just dump me from my container into the breeze wafting across the meadow (and make sure no one is down wind!).