Even if you’re not a photographer, spending a day or two walking among the Bristlecone Pine trees is an incredible experience. They’re considered the oldest living trees in the world at close to 5000 years. You will find defined trails and a map at the visitors center for Methuselah Grove trail and parts of the Patriarch Grove. But we were there off-trail looking in areas that were both steep and very distant from any road.
We spent the better part of a full day hiking and searching. We spotted this tree around mid day but decided to mark its location on our GPS and keep searching for others. But before the sun set we decided that this tree was our pick-of-the-litter and returned to wait for the midnight hours. After the moon had set and the stars were about as bright and bountiful as we could have dreamed of we began shooting.
Our elevation was very close to 11500’ and it was damn cold, I think it is always cold at that height plus it was windy which didn’t help things, but we were ready for both.
I took this shot with two exposures, one for the night sky at 25 seconds and one for the tree of around 4 minutes, and then blended them both in photoshop. No light painting was used, just natural light. We just had to stabilize ourselves the best we could on the slope, basically laying on our bellies to get the camera as low as possible.
Sitting close to 10,000 feet in elevation, Minaret Lake is in the subalpine zone, trees are fairly sparse but the mountain and water scenery are simply stunning.
We hired an outfitter that provided each of us a horse along with a pack horse for our gear and began our 4 hour trek to the lake. At roughly 9.5 miles from civilzation and a elevation gain of close to 2500′ the horses were a welcome departure from hiking with a 45lb backpack, but I have to tell you it was still a work out. I know, I know, all you do is sit there and they do the walking, yea right, going uphill and downhill the horses were constantly slipping on the slick-rock, I was grabbing hold of the saddle horn plus the back of the saddle so I didn’t fall off. Yes I looked like a full fledged green-horn but I didn’t care, it beat falling off the damn thing. By the time we reached Minaret Lake I felt like I spent four hours in a Tae-Bo class with a sore ass, no kidding it was a work-out!
The lake is gorgeous, and the Minaret Mountains are breathtaking! It makes for a photographers paradise. Our trip was during the second week of July we were hoping for snow and some ice on the lake but it was unseasonably warm and the ice was long gone, but alas we had to make due with our simple surroundings. Yea right. We spent 3 days here but could have used a couple more as we just starting getting the lay of the land when it was time to leave. You can go to my website for more Minaret Lake images. www.dougsolisphotography.com