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Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

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Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:18 pm

So after going to the Sierra for the past 37 years I do not know how many
times I have said “ this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen” until
I visit the next place that evoked the same phrase.
But this time I have to say that this one will be hard to top!
Not only was the scenery spectacular, even the weather co-operated, putting on
such an awesome display of sheer power only mother nature could do.
I was humbled by what I saw, raw force, exquisite beauty, and tranquility all
balled into one major production.
My first day was the usual long exhausting day that I have gotten used to
over the years, getting up at 3:30 am, out the door at 3:50 am, at the trailhead
with permit in hand by 10:45 am, and setting up camp at Seven Gables Lakes
by 5 pm.
The next day it was up to Vee Lake, which many of us here have visited, and
since the it was very windy it made taking photo’s a challenge.
After some scouting I found the optimal pond which would give some great
sunset reflections, if the wind permitted.
As a photographer we are all ways at the mercy of mother nature, and
sometimes this means long waits till the wind subsides, or using different
techniques to try to incorporate the ripples.
Luckily patience prevailed and the wind let up a bit.

The next day it was up to the Bear Lakes above Vee Lake, and with the
constant wind no amount of patience was going to help.
While hiking back towards my camp at Vee I noticed that the clouds were
boiling and growing in size, the kind that brings snow with them, and since this
system was an Alaskan Low, I knew it meant snow was arriving in the next
couple of hours.
So I packed up, and off I was to a lake that I visited on a day hike from
Apollo Lake decades ago, and vowed to revisit some day.
While descending the East Fork of Bear Creek the temps dropped rapidly
and when I reached the JMT I could see the snow falling to the north
and west from the clouds above the ridge at Orchid Lake.
I made my way quickly up the bench to the smaller lake under Orchid Lake
and set up camp right before the snow started to fall, which did not last
more than 30 min’s.
I ate dinner and proceeded to where I was planning to set up for what I
expected to be quite a sunset bonanza of color.
At about 7:15 pm there was a small sliver maybe 3 feet wide and 50 feet
long that showed up on the north western face of Seven Gables Peak, and
then disappeared to my shock, were there to many clouds for the sun to get
through, as would be the case the next evening?
But then at 7:30 pm a laser beam 3 feet wide shot across the middle of the
entire range and then stopped for a minute, then the red inched up towards
the peaks turning into a magical alpine glow that I seeked.
I was like a kid at a candy store, the colors, views, and the whole atmosphere
was electric.
The next day was overcast, cool, and windy.
I went on a hike over to Apollo, and spent time at the Orchid Lake, just
to move around, and keep warm.
It started snowing in the afternoon again, but only for 30 minutes again
and that was it with the precipitation.
That evening it was very cloudy with a lot of low clouds and some
rumbling, which made for 2 great shots, otherwise no color got through
that evening at sunset or sunrise.
The next day was partly cloudy which I spent looking off the bench towards
the eastern, and northern views most of the day.
At sunset the lack of clouds produced a lackluster performance, but the
“Earth Shadow” made up for it.
I got up at 6 am the next morning and made it back to the car by 11:30 am.
It was hard to leave, and I will never forget sitting above the small lake
on a rock watching about 20 small trout jump out of the water, catching
insects, creating a small wave each time they jumped out, which in turn
created a diamond pattern that shimmered in the sun, that scene will stay on my
mind for a very long time.
It is funny that 100’s of people pass by 800 feet below on the JMT never even
thinking about visiting this unique place that has so much to offer.
I hope some of you will be motivated to visit this real jewel of a place
and hope my photo's do at least a small amount justice to it:

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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby Greengrassmonk » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:38 pm

Your pictures are amazing. Thanks for posting.
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby oldranger » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:51 pm


You've done it again. I like your new format for sharing.



Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby Herm » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:38 pm

Wow Maverick, well done! You certainly have a knack for capturing compelling images. Thanks for sharing. I especially like the Small Orchid Lake Sunset (photo 3) and the Seven Gables Sunrise (photo 5). Gorgeous!
I am not in a hurry, so don't be hasty.
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby richlong8 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:14 pm

Amazing trip report! I think the best thing about the Muir Trail is the accessibility to getting off the trail to the adjoining country. I don't know if I will ever post one of my pics again after seeing yours- Unbelievable
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby copeg » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:43 pm

Enjoyed reading every word Mav. Love those alpenglows from Orchid Lake.
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:16 pm

Thanks Greengrassmonk, OR, Herm, Richlong8, and Copeg for the kind words.
Yes Mike, mother nature was kind enough to give me 2 more lightening poses, which
I highly appreciate.
It took me a while to get the TR together because I had several clients interested in
purchasing the Seven Gables Lightening, and Orchid Lake Sunset shots, and a few others
who are interested some of the other pictures, so I have been busy.
I also have another exhibit I have to get ready for in a few months.
All the topo map preparation, weather watching, location scouting, and carrying heavy
expensive camera gear means nothing if she (mother nature) does not give me the
light to work with, and light is everything.
I am only a small means/avenue which brings all of you bits and pieces of the most
beautiful mountain range in the world!
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:52 pm

A lovely, thrilling read and even lovelier/amazing photos. I'm also a fan of the new format for sharing.
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby SSSdave » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:16 pm

Was really windy over Labor Day weekend too that also diminished what I could do up Green Creek. But we had a fine time and discovered some new places. The weather often taketh and occasionally giveth. Glad to read you readily enjoyed.

Our first trip up Bear Creek was in '75 carrying our poles and flies. Caught a limit of ten dazzlingly colorful pan sized golden trout at Lou Beverly Lake and saw lunker goldens in the outlet of Sandpiper. And my tenth trip was in 2007 lugging a 4x5. Down in its forested canyon the most beautiful stream in the Sierra. Five us first visited Orchid in 1989 as I hefted an OM4T and Benbo. Its a vast and complex drainage, lots of secret places and more to discover.
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Re: Vee Lake & Orchid Lake TR

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:22 pm

Great report and photos. The storm photos are particularly amazing. Wild.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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