Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: Mono Lake/Lundy Canyon/Bodie
Trip Date: October 11-14, 2007
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: October 15, 2007

The 2007 Lundy Canyon/Mono Lake/Bodie State Park field trip officially began Thursday, October11 and ended Sunday, October 14.

In spite of reports that the trees were bare because of an early onset of winter combined with freezes, winds, droughts, aliens with leaf blowers and other apocalyptic events, our plucky little camera club group of 12 set off on another aspen-shooting excursion to the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Range.

Two travelers left a day early and found themselves traversing Sonora Pass in their RV. They tackled a route that whitens the hair of all those RV commodores who attempt it. To the captain of this brave vessel we award the distinction of the Hero of the Road for rolling acrobatics on an incline of wicked proportions!

Two SUVs and a pickup made up the rest of the road-borne Armada, and arrived at the dusty little town of Lee Vining on Thursday.

Shortly after arrival, the group gathered at the Mobil station at the base of Tioga Pass for the first on-site meal. Although the gourmet chef had since left the Mobil for another nearby restaurant, his recipes lingered on. Several in the group, however, chose to gather at other places in town for more affordable evening sustenance. The term “other” includes a short list of alternative restaurants, headed by the hash-house known as Niceley’s, and a DQ-style burger bar.) Every photographer in the western hemisphere seemed to be dining at Not-So-Nicely’s (home of the world famous Never-Get-Served Bar). Every morning we got to meet all the people who would be invading our pictures that day. Some, such as the group of photo students from Santa Monica, were worthy of the camera frame, but most were created by the Great Maker to be permanently shackled to the rear of the camera. (That group, of course, would also include me!)

The first night shoot took place on Thursday dark at the South Tufa beach at Mono Lake. It turned out to be more of a cursing fest with most of us fumbling with our cameras while engulfed in the total dark of a moonless and absolutely gorgeous starry night. It was fairly cold, but some of us managed to get a couple pictures taken—film and digital included.

Next morning we woke very early to drive to Lundy Canyon and photograph the sunrise. Most of the trees at Lundy still had their leaves; however, they were not as spectacular as they were in 2005. In spite of this, several group members were still copiously frothing at the mouth and recording everything in sight. Eventually, most of us hiked the beautiful trail that begins at the end of the parking loop above the fishing resort and beaver ponds. The afternoon shooters then went out and drove the June Lake loop, visited Silver Lake and came back with favorable reports of those locations. (A couple of us crashed like tired, old derelicts.)

Saturday morning began early with a dawn shoot at the South Tufa beach at Mono. This time there were only a hundred or so photographers milling around in the scenery. (I felt a bit lonely!) We met the early shooters on the lake access trail as we entered the scene just minutes before sunrise—they shot us a look of arrogant disdain as they broadly announced their departure. We failed to bow and acknowledge their regal presence.

After another grease feast at the “Not-So” place we hit the road north, bound for Bodie State Park. A nail in the tire of one carpool vehicle sidelined half of the group, but soon we all crossed paths at the Bodie ghost town and captured all those oft-framed scenes all over again. It was the same old Bodie, but with different visual obstacles. (Since the last time we visited, those ghosts have been busy putting new roofs on all those falling-down shacks! Even the dead know the value of curb appeal in a tourist area.)

After Bodie, the group came back to our overcrowded, but cozy little cabin and regrouped for dinner and another night shoot. Two carloads took the dusty trail over to South Tufa once again and set up a gallery of cameras in front of one of a tufa formation and painted it all sorts of wild colors. The results proved to be much better than the first evening of night shooting. For the second shoot we remembered to use the proper settings, batteried up and brought all the right accessories—including two packs of IPA and Amber Ale filters to make sure we could achieved the correct hues. Those amber filters were a godsend, indeed! After taking two pictures per camera in a five-hour span, we agreed to go back to the toasty little cabin and hit the sack so we could get up for the dawn shoot. (Yeah, right!) Everyone earnestly agreed that we’d all leap out of bed at 5:30 a.m.

The only thing that leapt up that Sunday morning was the sun and two out of the twelve of us. And after a well-lubricated breakfast at the Not-So hash house, we mounted up and drove back to climb back into our usual cog holes here in the Bay Area.

Although we experienced a few minor hitches on this trip, I still smile when I review the memories in my mind. Thanks to all for coming and thanks for those who looked after the others.

© 2007 S.R. Hinrichs