Right smack in the middle of Oakland, Lake Merritt is the oldest wildlife refuge in North America, but to most of the people walking by, it is just another city park. In fact, Lake Merritt was designated as a wildlife refuge in 1870, and is home to a vast array of wildlife, including dozens of species of birds, fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, and crabs. The lake is actually a tidal lagoon, fed by the San Francisco Bay to the west, and several creeks coming down from the Oakland hills to the east.
Eclipse watchers in the Bay Area, myself included, were disappointed this morning to wake up to cloudy skies. We knew this was a likely possibility, but we hoped that the usual morning fog would clear away in time to see the eclipse. As late as Sunday night, people were still looking for eclipse glasses, and stores were sold out. But those glasses were not needed after all. For most of the Bay Area, the clouds stayed stubbornly in place for the entire eclipse event.
Way back in 2001, I went on a road trip through the Mojave Preserve, Death Valley, and parts of Arizona, but the first stop I make was the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. I have looked through my archives, and it seems that the only photos I have remaining from this trip are from the Bristlecones. As sad as it is to have lost all those photos, I am glad to have the Bristlecone series. My visit was a wonderful experience, and I have been meaning to go back ever since, but I just haven’t found the time.
Once again, I’m going through some old negatives and scanning them. This time, I came across photos from a hike that I did to Lundy Mine and ghost town, in the Eastern Sierra Nevada here in California. The date was sometime in the fall of 2003, either late September or early October. I was living and working in Yosemite National Park, and into ghost towns at the time, and someone told me about an abandoned mining town above Lundy lake.
Lundy lake is easy enough to find. Just North of Lee Vining on I395, there is a road that takes you straight to it. My girlfriend and I drove out there at some point in the summer with high hopes of finding a little-known ghost town, just a short drive away from the much more popular Bodie. But that first time, we went home mostly disappointed. There is a campground on the far side, and trails that lead up into the valley. We found the moldering remains of homes, rusted out cars, stoves, that kind of thing. We saw evidence of beavers living in the creek but no evidence of the mining town. The campground attendant didn’t seem to know anything about a mining town either. We assumed that if the ghost town existed, it was either much farther up the valley, or had simply decayed to nothing. As we drove away, we happened to spot a trail leading up the mountain on the other side of the lake, and we knew that was the trail we should have taken.
A month or so later, we came back, ready for a much harder hike. The first mile was the hardest; straight up with no tree cover at all. Then we came to a little wooded valley with a creek running through it, and the going got easier. It was about three miles of uphill hiking, though, before we reached the ghost town. There is not much left of Lundy ghost town anymore, but what is there is fascinating.
I took the above photos with a Nikon F series SLR. I remember that I did have a Lomo with me as well, so I might have more photos to publish in the future. As you can see from the pictures, the largest artifact remaining is the mine railway, and a tunnel going into the side of the mountain. We did see one other building down in the valley, but it was too far off of the trail, and we had gotten started too late in the day to investigate. Indeed, while we were there, the sun was beginning to set. We had just enough time to hike up to nearby Oneida Lake before heading back.
I had planned on returning to Lundy one day, and perhaps I will.
In the latest issue of Bay Nature magazine, there was a great article about Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. Eden Landing is on the San Francisco Bay Trail, and it is a section that I have been meaning to visit for a long time, but I just couldn’t get around to it. On a map, Eden Landing looks strange. I knew that it was a vast wetland area, but I really had no idea what to expect. But I am so glad that I went.
Eden Landing was formerly a settlement, founded in 1854. The location was bought a year later by Richard Barron, who changed the name to Barron’s Landing, and it seems that the name was later changed to Edendale later, but I can’t seem to find an exact date. In any case, I like the name Eden Landing.
The big industry here was salt. In the pictures below, you can see some of the ruins of the salt works that still remain.
Recently, my girlfriend and I took a trip to Seattle, and I will have plenty of photos to show you. I’m re-building my website right now, so it might take a while to get to all of them, but I wanted to start with this short abstract series that I did in Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Bloedel Reserve is an enchanting forest/botanical garden/wildlife preserve. When I was researching places to go near Seattle, I immediately knew we had to go there. Getting there without a car turned out to be easy. We just took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island, and there was a bus waiting for us at the ferry terminal.
As I said, I’ll tell you more about the gardens and forests in another post, but I wanted to share these abstracts. I go through fazes with abstract photography, but I think I’m getting better at it. In the image above, I wanted to show how the light falls into the cool and shady forest, and how it almost has weight. It took me several tries to get it right, of course, but I actually feel proud of this image. I no longer feel like I’m just waving my camera around and hoping for the best.
One of my favorite walks on the San Francisco Bay Trail is Crown Memorial State Beach, better known as Alameda Beach. This is a great place to just walk along the Bay on a sandy beach. The walk is 2.5 miles long, with sand dunes and lots of birds. There are sandpipers and sanderlings, ducks, egrets, pelicans, cormorants, and of course, pigeons.
For this blog post, I’m just going to complain about how I’ve been too tired to do any photography lately. Actually, I’ve just been lazy. Or something. But I did go out and take some pictures of this cool little parade that happens once a year in San Francisco. It’s sort of like this religious thing, except that it’s not. What was I talking about? Oh, well, just have a look at the pictures:
I recently went on a photo walk down at Point Isabel in Richmond. Spring was in the air, and I decided that I wanted to take pictures of California Poppies. This time of year, these iconic flowers are blooming everywhere. To be honest, flowers are not my favorite subject to shoot, but sometimes I just need to try something new. This is how we learn new things.
Even though I don’t feel that these are great flower photos, it was still fun. I took these photos along Hoffman Marsh at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, CA.
Strangely, I felt that the standout image from this shoot was the one of a white morning glory:
The San Francisco Bay Trail at San Leandro Bay is a surprisingly scenic short hike in Oakland, California. San Leandro Bay itself is a small bay between Alameda Island, Bayfarm Island, and Oakland. There are several creeks draining into the bay here, including Lion Creek and San Leandro Creek. This creates a rich but delicate ecosystem. The mudflats are important feeding grounds for shore birds, and at low tide you will see lots of them way out in the distance. At high tide, the shore birds will be huddled closer to the shore, where you can see them better, but please don’t disturb them or let your dog chase them.