From mid-September until snow closes the road at Mammoth Lakes, usually in mid-October, you can drive your car to the Minaret View Point where you’ll pay the entry fee or show your National Park entry card and drive to the end of the road at your destination. During summer months you must ride their shuttle busses. The road to the parking area narrows and heads downhill for 12 steep and winding paved miles to the parking lot near the Devils Postpile. The trail follows the middle fork of the San Joaquin (waa-keen) River. From the parking lot, it’s less than a half-mile/twenty-minute stroll through the woods to the viewpoint at the bottom of the post pile. The pillars face southwest and are in morning shadows. Direct afternoon light is too flat. I arrived at noon and found a mix of sunlight and dark shadows on the pillars. With a wide-angle lens you can stand at the base of the formation and fill your frame with close-up details of a huge log-jam of stones with 3 to 7 sides, fallen from the rim of the sixty-foot sheer wall of volcanic pillars - a spectacular pattern for photographers.
All the hardwoods in the forest were at the peak of their autumn color during the second week of October 2009 in Upstate New York. An all-day drizzly rain created my favorite lighting conditions and filled small streams and gullies in Letchworth State Park. A very wide-angle lens gave me the effect I wanted on a very wet forest.
Five miles north of Hilo, Hawaii, watch for the “scenic route” sign pointing the way to old Highway 19, the Mamalahoa Highway. This section of the old road is four miles long. A half-mile down the narrow and jungle-lined road is the office of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. This is a must-stop for any nature photographer. The fee is well worth it. The gardens are another mile beyond the office where you purchase your ticket. Park at the office, and a shuttle bus will take you down to the gardens near the edge of the sea. The incredible variety of palms will be enough to keep you busy all day. There are trails leading through twenty-five acres of yellow bamboo, bromeliads, blooming gingers, ponds covered with water lilies, and thousands of rare tropical plants collected from all over the world.
Bodie was one of the biggest and “baddest” of California’s gold mining boom towns in the 19th Century. William S. Body discovered gold in these mountains in 1859. Thirty-five million dollars worth of gold and silver was discovered in Bodie’s mines between 1877 and 1888. The town’s population quickly swelled. Each new arrival hoped to strike it rich. Hundreds of active mining claims were filed. Most of the new residents worked the mines and lived in tents and wooden shacks. Wood was scarce. Winters were harsh, and lumber was needed to build a more substantial town. A forest of Jeffrey pines, miles to the south, was cut and milled. The lumber was delivered to Bodie on a newly-built railroad. The town grew to ten-thousand residents.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.