Tahoe Light Photography » Corporate, outdoor and adventure photography by Reno and Lake Tahoe freelance photographer Scott Sady.

High Sierra backpacking and landscape photography in Dusy Basin

By Scott Sady

 

We just finished the second annual July 4th backpacking trip in the High Sierra. For me, I prefer to celebrate America by spending time out in her wilds as opposed to watching things blow up. Monique and I and various friends have made it a point to hit the trail for 5-7 days at least once each year, but recently we have settled into the July 4 week with the same group and have had a great time. This year’s trip took us up and over Bishop Pass, with the first night at Saddlerock lake just below Bishop Pass. Mosquitoes were worse this year than I have ever seen them and were really the only downside to an otherwise awesome trip. Our second day was a little longer and took us up over 11,900 foot Bishop Pass, across Dusy Basin and over 11,600 ft Knapsack pass and down to the middle of the Barrett lakes in Palisade Basin. We liked this spot so well we stayed two days. Big rocks for jumping off, an awesome lakeside campsite and no people pretty much epitomized what we look for in the backcountry. Most of this area is off trail now, with the main trail heading down from Bishop Pass to join the John Muir Trail in Le Conte Canyon. From here we did a day hike up and over Thunderbolt Pass and looked at some of the routes up Thunderbolt and North Palisade peaks. The route up Thunderbolt pass is straight up the drainage from the large lake directly below it. There is a decent use trail from there right up the middle. A difficult scramble down a scree field awaits on the other side, but it’s fairly short. Ultimately the group decided to head back over Knapsack pass to lake 11,393 in Dusy Basin where we stayed our final night and got caught in a light thunderstorm before hiking back over Bishop Pass in a drizzle and down to the car on day 5. This area is comparable to Humphrey’s Basin, but a bit more scenic in my opinion. Our trip report from the Sawtooth Range is here.

For this trip, my main goal was to do some night photography. The moon was going from just past 1/4 to nearly 1/2 full, waxing, during our trip. A waxing moon is key because it is still in the sky and setting just after dark while the Milky Way is low in the sky. The Milky Way in summer starts out low, hugging the mountains in a southerly aspect as soon as it gets dark. It progresses to rise full overhead and is pretty much directly overhead, and mostly useless for photos, by about 2 am. So I would set my alarm each night to get up in time to catch the moon set, which looks just like a sunset on the mountain peaks, only with stars, and stay up until after the moon had set and the sky was full of stars as only the light-less high sierras can provide.

I used a Nikon D800e for all of these shots, except the obvious iphone ones. I lugged the fantastic, and fantastically heavy nikon 14-24 f2.8 lens up specifically because I was focusing on night photography this trip and wanted that wide angel to really capture the expansive sky. Almost all night exposures are at 30 seconds at f2.8 and ISO 3200. These photos and many more are available for purchase or license from my online archive.

 

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky Way galaxy rising through the forest at Saddlerock Lake just below Bishop Pass in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky Way galaxy rising through the forest at Saddlerock Lake just below Bishop Pass in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Stream crossing below Bishop Pass in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Heading up Bishop Pass to the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Going over Bishop Pass

Going over Bishop Pass

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Star trails focused on the North Star above Isoscelese peak. 30 - 30 second exposures blended via lightness.

Star trails focused on the North Star above Isosceles peak. 30 – 30 second exposures blended via lightness.

Monique in camp at one of the Barlett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Monique in camp at one of the Barrett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Monique swims for home at our awesome camp at one of the Barlett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Monique swims for home at our awesome camp at one of the Barrett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Hiking up from Barlett Lakes back toward Knapsack pass.

Setting off on a day hike from Barrett Lakes to Thunderbolt Pass and the upper lakes.

Monique hiking through a field of what we think is Monkey

Monique hiking through a field of what we think is Monkey’s Paw flowers on the way out of Palisade Basin.

Me looking out over Knapsack pass taken on Monique

Me looking out over Knapsack pass taken on Monique’s phone.

A few iphone panoramas of Dusy Basin

A few iphone panoramas of Dusy Basin. Monique doing her yoga up top, Isosceles Peak in middle, and playing games in camp at bottom.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Sunset over Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade Peak in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Chipmonk highway.

Chipmonk highway.

Taking in the view.

Taking in the view of Isosceles peak.

Stormy sunset over Isoscolese peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Stormy sunset over Isosceles peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Lakeside camp and stormy sunset over Isoscolese peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Lakeside camp and stormy sunset over Isosceles peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Our tent and Nathan

Our tent and Nathan’s tent in the background at lake 11393 in Dusy Basin.

Milky way over tent from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way over tent from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

The gang for this years trip from left to right: Me, Monique, Nathan, Emily,Yvette and Greg.

The gang for this years trip from left to right: Me, Monique, Nathan, Emily,Yvette and Greg.

 

 

July 8, 2014 - 12:36 pm

lors spicher - Hi Scot
LOVE your photos of these areas and the skies!!!
My husband and I have been on this same route into Bartlett Lakes
over Knapsack pass.
Your photos bring back wonderful memories.

See you in the winter.

Lors

Reno River Festival 2014 – Some of my favorite kayaking shots

This year was a mixed bag for Reno’s annual whitewater kayaking and river celebration. The third year of drought made for low flows, and as a result not all of the top name competitors came in to compete. This festival is always a favorite of mine. It is what got me started kayaking years-ago, and I always love to compete in it and see old friends roll into town. The weather was a mixed bag also, producing freezing temperatures, rain, hail and snow during the freestyle competition on the Truckee River in downtown Reno, Nevada on Saturday, then turning warm and sunny for the boatercross on Sunday.  Being a competitor in this event, I don’t shoot it too seriously. There are tons of people on shore with cameras. What I decided to do this year was focus on the shape and feeling of the water. A lot of times for me, that meant shooting a high-speed event with a very slow shutter speed. Always a risky proposition. Many of the images I kept border on the abstract this year, with a few story-telling shots thrown in for good measure. With the slow shutter speed photos, I was really looking for a sense of motion and energy with the water, but something in the face, the eye, had to be sharp to hold it all together. Others shot at a higher shutter speed I was looking more for the energy of the flying water over the kayaker in the picture. Many more photos can by found by searching my online photography archive.

Local kayaking phenom Sage Donnelly behind a curtain of water during her freestyle kayaking competition

Local kayaking phenom Sage Donnelly behind a curtain of water during her freestyle kayaking competition

Ruth Ebens, former women

Ruth Ebens, former women’s world freestyle kayaking champion in a wall of white during her ride at the Reno River Festival freestyle kayaking competition.

I just liked the way the water comes off the bows of the boats at certain times during the ride.

I just liked the way the water comes off the bows of the boats at certain times during the ride.

Former women

Former women’s world champion Emily Jackson’s intense concentration shows through the water clinging to her helmet brim.

Sage and her dad Matt testing Sage

Sage and her dad Matt testing Sage’s blood sugar. Sage has juvenile diabetes and must constantly monitor and control her blood sugar, especially around competition time. Sage, despite being only 13 years old, has gone on to best nearly the entire adult women’s field in freestyle kayaking and steep creek racing.

Sage is reflected in the glasses of her dad Matt as she gets some advice between runs. Look for Sage to paddle slalom in the coming olympics.

Sage is reflected in the glasses of her dad Matt as she gets some advice between runs. Look for Sage to paddle slalom in the coming olympics.

We have a local cormorant that hangs out at hole 5 on the Truckee River and is known to all the local paddlers, so we had to get him in the picture with Emily.

We have a local cormorant that hangs out at hole 5 on the Truckee River and is known to all the local paddlers, so we had to get him in the picture with Emily.

This shot of Emily Jackson competing during the women

This shot of Emily Jackson competing during the women’s freestyle competition embodies everything that I was going for in shooting this unpredictable and fast-moving sport at 1/60th shutter speed.

Current women

Current women’s world champion and Reno River Festival winner Clair O’Hara came over from England to whup some butt.

The face of Demshitz and Pyrahna kayaks Dave Fusilli knows how to paddle in the cold.

The face of Demshitz and Pyrahna kayaks Dave Fusilli knows how to paddle in the cold.

Reno local and this year

Reno local and this year’s defending champion Jason Craig, right, talks with Stephen Wright before the men’s competition.

Stephen Wright, aka the Hobbit, giving it all he

Stephen Wright, aka the Hobbit, giving it all he’s got.

Stephen Wright goes huge.

Stephen Wright goes huge.

Stephen happy with his ride despite being hampered on one side by a crippling tendonitis.

Stephen happy with his ride despite being hampered on one side by a crippling tendonitis.

Reno local Jason Craig would easily go on to defend his title again this year.

Reno local Jason Craig would easily go on to defend his title again this year.

Happy, Happy, Zen, Zen.

Happy, Happy, Zen, Zen.

Sage on her way to destroying the women

Sage on her way to destroying the women’s boatercross competition, most of whom are twice her age.

Dave Fusilli takes the inside line, crushing Alec Vorhees in the process during the Reno River Festival boatercross competition. I should mention that all these boater cross pictures were shot by my wife as I was competing myself and made it through a few rounds before being destroyed by Colin Kemp.

Dave Fusilli takes the inside line, crushing Alec Vorhees in the process during the Reno River Festival boatercross competition. I should mention that all these boater cross pictures were shot by my wife as I was competing myself and made it through a few rounds before being destroyed by Colin Kemp.

Colin Kemp on his way to destroying Dave Fusilli and taking the win in this year

Colin Kemp on his way to destroying Dave Fusilli and taking the win in this year’s boatercross.

In conjunction with the River Festival, the world Mystery squirt boating championships were held on the Truckee River farther upstream the following weekend. Squirtboating involves sinking your boat underwater and basically seeing how long you can stay down. The longest downtime wins. Problem is, spectators can

In conjunction with the River Festival, the world Mystery squirt boating championships were held on the Truckee River farther upstream the following weekend. Squirtboating involves sinking your boat underwater and basically seeing how long you can stay down. The longest downtime wins. Problem is, spectators can’t see anything once a boat goes underwater. So we decided to attach glowsticks to the boats of some of the top paddlers in order to show the graceful spinning that they do while under-water.

Clair O

Clair O’Hara won the women’s world Mystery competition and set a new women’s record in the process.

Gulf War Syndrome, The VA and our forgotten veterans

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May 21, 2014 - 3:43 pm

Jeff - This is such a powerful and sad story. I cannot imagine going through all of this, but especially given the circumstances that brought this upon Michael. Thank you for sharing this important story. People have no idea.

May 21, 2014 - 4:11 pm

Robert Ruiz - hi there Mike, I went to 7th/8th grade with you and your brother at Woodbridge, I’m so sorry to hear about Mark’s passing, Scott Sady’s posting is the first I heard of it. I read about your situation, my daughter is becoming a Staff sargeant in the Air Force, she is going to medical school, but it sounds like they got you into quite a mess. Well at this time I am not in the position to financially help you, but next month, I will be coming into alot of money, and I promise I will help you… I hope you feel better soon, stay strong my friend

May 22, 2014 - 5:48 am

Joe ODill - I live this essentially everyday , I really struggle to get up and keep going . No one understands and I know no one gives a shit about us . I fucking hate what I have become because of my illness connected to desert storm and the military . My body is shit and my mind is weak .

May 22, 2014 - 5:59 am

Terry - Have you ever been tested for DNA adducts? Please contact me Tonggie9@gmail.com

May 22, 2014 - 4:19 pm

Richard Smith - Stand strong

May 24, 2014 - 2:19 pm

Michael Graddy - Terry- I haven’t been tested for that, this is the first time hearing about it, I will look into it, Thanks!

Joe- Sorry… Hang tough, I know its hard!!

Robert- Long time!! Thanks for the good thoughts! Tell your daughter to keep copies of everything she can get!! Shot records, doctor’s visits, everything!!

Jeff- Thank You!! I appreciate Scott Sady taking his time out to do it!!

May 26, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Michael Graddy - This is so awesome! Thank You all so much!! Your donations have made me feel like I’m going to get the help I need so badly.. The VA will compensate me for gas, but they don’t chip in for car maintenance, for the wear and tear of the 570 miles to the hospital, or the babysitting, or dog sitting, meals and special needs of the 2 day trip…

June 1, 2014 - 5:14 pm

lb - My dad was a veteran who was stationed on Johnston Island on a secret mission. He gave 20 years to the Air Force. I found out about 10 yrs. ago about the agent orange, plutonium, uranium, etc. stored on that island. Dad died with cancer at the age of 49. But of course, his cancer wasn’t service connected…

June 2, 2014 - 8:53 am

Clark - I have walked the same road you are on and there is no end. As you know you must cope. period. I walk along side of you brother I was with 24 Infantry Division US ARMY Desert Shield /Desert Storm I lived in a sandhole in the desert for 7 months .I visit doctors regularly ,I have been diagnosed chronic PTSD and live with the many symptoms .Have asked for FMRI over and over again and the VA representatives try to explain there is no justification for the procedure.So for me I know your illness well,I live with the ghost. You hang tough brother .

June 2, 2014 - 12:15 pm

Michael Graddy - LB – Sorry about your Dad… It is sad when they don’t take care of all of us!

Clark – I can’t thank you enough!!! Hang tough, maybe there will be hope for all of us soon!

June 2, 2014 - 2:44 pm

Karen W - Time for our American Citizens to SPEAK UP! Our Veterans deserve so much More than those in office! God Bless Our Veterans & Military & Thank You All!

June 3, 2014 - 10:15 pm

Cheryl Dixon - Michael, my husband and I are both vets living in Christmas Valley. He is also Gulf Storm, I served during Vietnam. I’m 100% service connected, he’s 50% at the moment. If we can help with babysitting, caring for the dog or sharing rides to Bend (We go every week) let us know, and we seriously mean this. My email is dixonpro@ymail.com send a note and I’ll send you my husband’s #. We would love to take you and family to lunch and share stories and advice. Hope your working with John Effingham/VA out here. He’s a real bull dog and will get things done for you! Best wishes, Cheryl and Paul

June 5, 2014 - 10:18 am

Helen Prince - This is a real syndrome and why the Government and VA will not recognize and allow the treatment of it is beyond me. The troops that fought in that war have and are suffering and should be treated for a valid medical condition instead of being denied treatment.

June 5, 2014 - 7:07 pm

Sherman neal - I am a gulf war vet and also have gulf war illness.the value does nothing for us.yet I still love America. Dispute what we have become.my girlfriend and daughter have a really hard time dealing with this.sometimes i wonder what is happening inside my body? I know I’m sick. But the value says no you smoke too much. Its a stress thing.been in combat mode for twenty years now its saved my life more than once. But now I’m fading out.

June 15, 2014 - 7:33 am

Kathryn A Irwin - My father served in WWII over in the Philippines. This country has always been hot to send their boys to WAR. It is an economical boon to the country. Most rich invest in them. No one believes in abortion but no one wants to help raise these children. The sad thing about it is these kids go off to war with a pomp & circumstance idea but what it is is protecting the rich man’s bank, their investments of oil etc… & their families have the good life. You wrote on my blog that signatures don’t matter, but they do. For as far back as I can remember no one has seen to making sure that our Veterans’ have ever been taken care of. My insurance through Medicaid covers if you have a distance to travel to the source of care. Evidently not your! This is a very sad statement. My intentions since I too am below income now, is to see that this is changed by voting against anyone that is a stick in the mud relating to giving care to those that have spent their lives already to make sure this country is safe & secure along with those that paid into Social Security get what they invested in. This is our right not a gift from the government. All the tax cuts etc… is just bullshit. It tells me that those in the seats of government are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. I will vote against anyone that doesn’t support these goals. Utmost importance. I look for the petitions to sign. That is the beauty of Facebook. We are strong. Just set down and look to where you can sign on the dotted line and make sure you get out your vote as loudly as it needs to be done. This is the real war!
May God bless you & yours.

June 16, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Jeff burum - I have almost the exact same story with a twist. Went over from McCord AFB in 93-94 for Southern Watch as Chief of Budget USAF. Was fine until notice for us all to get “flu” shots and take pills Dec 93. Suddenly I started losing weight and became apathetic. Came back distant to wife…hallucinate at work. Wife had ovarian cancer one year later out of blue, changed her life and ours. Later, I could not sleep, or concentrate, trembles, cracked teeth, irritable, cracked teeth…decided to retire early. Took off a year. Started CPA practice slow, had bad neck pains, then arm, them almost heart attack feelings. Then later in 2008, gall bladder surgery. Then sick again in 2010, double neck fusion, 2010..still not solved. Finally diagnosed by WRIIC at Palo Alto with Gulf War Illness Sep 2013, 15 years after coming back and two careers lost. Finally had to get private immunologist to tart me Jan 2014 because LA system not no what Gulf War Illness is or wmds of sarin and biowarfare. On same therapy as described in article.

June 17, 2014 - 10:25 pm

Suzie - Please contact the DAV, Disabled American Veterans. I had my claim in for 10yrs and I would keep it in appeals. I was a DAV supporter but never used their services until they came to my area in a traveling van.

They looked over my paperwork and basically said I should be getting closure very soon for the positive because, he said, a certain term that was used to deny. He said all paperwork issued during this time period that used this term are being reviewed.

Sure enough, within a month or so, I had heard my case was no longer denied.

Although I never got a diagnosis for Gulf War Syndrome, I qualified for full disability just by the overload of dibilitating symptoms, nerve damage in both hands, copd, major depression, fibromyalgia-the symptoms of… like chronic pain, brain fog, no energy. A sleep study showed I was awakened multiple times every minute. So though I slept like a rock, I never reached REM sleep, so no nightly recuperation.

I got out of the service because I couldn’t keep track of time and it was getting me into trouble. I couldn’t remember changes in schedules and such. I was down to doing E1 clerk work and failing at it. I worked with good people who would cover for me. I couldn’t handle the thought of one of them getting in trouble for me.

God bless you and may you see relief soon,
Suzie

August 22, 2014 - 9:58 am

Corey Krueger - Michael, you and I are currently working on this… Hang in there buddy… You have a lot of people who care about you.

Olympic National Park back to Reno – Aliner camping part 3 of 3

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January 17, 2014 - 9:26 am

Derrick - Hi Scott,
Thoroughly enjoyed the series. Thanks for posting. I’m now even looking at an Aliner myself!

February 23, 2014 - 10:22 am

Edward Doty - Scott:
Like Derrick, I have really enjoyed your travel blog for the Pacific coast, and for me it is your photography that has drawn me to your blog. I am currently stuck in Flatland (the Chicago area), but your photos make me really want to get back to Oregon and Washington before I am too old to enjoy nature photography. When I was there as a graduate student, had too little time to thoroughly explore the coast.

Derrick: If you want an easy to tow, fast setup hardside trailer, by all means checkout an Aliner. This was our choice for the same reason.