Photo Journal, Issue 10, July-August 2011

Another Visit to the Mountains

This trip had several missions. I would be hiking up Mount Whitney, so I needed to acclimatize for a few days at a moderate elevation. I headed to the White Mountains, camped overnight, and then headed up on foot to White Mountain Peak. On the hike up, I saw the cutest families of yellow-bellied marmots, and on the way down I saw a herd of 24 bighorn sheep. This was a so-called ewe herd of adult females with their lambs of the year. Two adults even had a GPS/radio collar with red and blue ear identification tags. That’s pretty snazzy for a sheep. It was great fun to watch some of the lambs practicing on head-butting. The ram herd was elsewhere in the region. The rams and ewes only come together during the autumn breeding season and the lambs are born in the spring, so the lambs probably never recognize their fathers.

After those days, I continued to the start of the Mount Whitney Trail to prepare for that annual jaunt. The mountain had been hit by severe rains, floods, with rock and sand slides, so the trail had been torn up a bit. Some deep stream crossing aids were disrupted, and that meant wading cold streams this year. That slowed me down, but it didn’t stop me. Then on the next day I got a wilderness permit in Bishop and headed out on a 55-mile loop backpack trip through the Evolution Basin of northern Kings Canyon National Park, partly southbound on the John Muir Trail. That was a great four day period, especially for photographing an American pika near Muir Pass.

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