Eastern Sierras
In the summer of 1998, my brother Morten came over from Norway to visit. He had never been in the United States before and gave me an excuse to take time off to show him the Eastern Sierras. (The layout is optimized for 640x480.)
Bristlecone Pine Forest
Here's Morten looking like a cowboy. These windblown bristlecone pines in the high Sierras are the oldest living things in the world.  Thin drill cores tell the story of five thousand years of global climate fluctuations. Because of the cold and the resins, the dry wood of dead trees stays around just as long, and archaeologists have been able to use this record to calibrate the carbon-14 dating method. Artifacts and remains dating back to the very beginning of agriculture can now be dated more accurately, thanks to these ancient witnesses. 
Bristlecone pine
Morten in the Bristlecone Pine forest
Tioga Pass
Heavy snowfall had blocked the entrance to Yosemite National Park. We drove into Tioga Pass in the late afternoon and walked a couple of miles over the snow to a camp site overlooking the lake.
Campfire at Tioga pass
Mono Lake
From time immemorial, Mono lake has been a resting place for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds. Water diverted by the Los Angeles Water Authority has increased the salinity of the remaining lake and made conditions inhospitable for the birds. The columns of tufa, formed by mineral-rich subterranean water bubbling up through the bottom of the lake, all used to be below the surface. The decade-long fight to save Mono lake is now paying off and the water table is again rising slowly.

Mono lake with tufa towers

The Mexican farmer on my right made a living collecting the unique salt-flies that thrive along the shore, pounding them into a fine protein powder just like the Paiute used to do.
Mount Whitney
Fans blasting to cool the engine, we crept up from the valley floor in first gear towards Whitney Portal. At eight thousand three hundred feet, it's a great starting point for a climb. It took us a couple of hours to get up to the first lake and the view was stupendous. We hoped to see a bear but no such luck.

Mt. Whitney from 11,000 feet

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