Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 Sierra Painting Packtrip, Part II: Sightseeing!

The first two full days at Ediza I painted in camp in the morning, and then hiked up to higher locations to explore and paint. On Monday, Ernesto and I decided to hike up to Iceberg Lake. I was last there in 2008, and was looking forward to seeing and painting it again. The hike itself, for me, is a humbling reminder of how not in shape I am, (or my age), or both. Stopping to catch my breath was literally true. At times I couldn't keep moving and also breathe. The good news is that the view was great every time I stopped, so there was a reward for being out of breath. Truthfully its also difficult to sightsee while walking up there, as the terrain is so uneven, you need to watch where you're stepping most of the time.  Here's a few shots of the area:

Approaching the lake, which is just beyond the meadow.

The outlet of Iceberg.

Ernesto, late in the afternoon, after painting all day in the meadow.

Here's a huge erratic we spotted on the way down. The atmosphere was pretty heavy, probably from the Aspen Fire to the south.

The curved basin below Ritter and Banner, across the valley, was to be our route on Tuesday, to get to the Nydiver Lakes.

I did 2 pieces that day, and here is one of them below, a fairly typical, (and un-retouched) view of the shoreline. For some, it may seem ironic that, surrounded by such alpine vistas, I have a habit of picking these more intimate scenes. I simply find such closeup views to be equally beautiful, and often unique to such an environment. I wouldn't see these colors and forms in the Bay Area, any more than I would see the jagged peaks.  I never get tired of the color relationships found in wet and dry rocks, as well as the clarity and depth of water, and the hue shifts to be found there. 

I should point out that the light at that altitude, after sunrise, cools considerably. Much more so than at lower altitudes. The warmth seen on the rocks at the top of the image was local color, while the average rock temperature, and the temp of the sunlight, combined to make a cool result in the brightest areas. It is a somewhat disconcerting effect, as it doesn't match our everyday perceptions in the lowlands. I may have to 'adjust' this one. It may mean adhering to the overcast 'rule' (cool light, warm shadows) for example. 

On Tuesday, after doing our morning paintings, having breakfast, and filling up our water bottles, we decided to hike to the Nydiver Lakes. We decided not to go for a shortcut on the way up, and opted for a clear trail up to the basin below Ritter and Banner. From there, we headed east, up a rocky slope, expecting to see the lakes at the top. Instead, we just found a landscape littered with shattered boulders. We had to walk another quarter mile before they came into view below us.

Our view of the lakes below us. We found 3 medium sized lakes, a couple of pond-sized ones, as well as dried up pools.

Looking back towards the peaks. We had climbed over the mid-ground ridge on the left from the basin.

I modified my setup for painting up there due to strong gusts of wind. I sat on the ground, clipped my umbrella to the tripod, and weighted it down with rocks in my bag, hanging from the center post.
Water? Check!, Hand Lotion? Check!, Cookies? Check! Go!

Ernesto did not have an umbrella, so oriented his easel to be in shade. He was painting the meadow and shoreline to the upper right.

This is a quick study I did from my spot, later in the afternoon. I was compelled to paint this view, partially because it resembled Edgar Payne's penchant for inserting lakes that didn't exist beneath lofty alpine crags. Here it was the truth. 

We didn't want to go back the way we came, as we knew were right above our campsite, so we ditched our packs and walked over to the edge of the plateau we were on to see how steep the descent would be. It resembled a double black diamond ski run, with boulders and weeds instead of snow. The lake in this image is Ediza. On the lower right shore of the lake is a white dot. That is Eric Merrell's umbrella, with him beneath it, painting. If you look to the top of the image, you can see Iceberg Lake, to which we'd hiked and painted the day before. You may also note that we are looking down on Iceberg Lake. We decided it was do-able, went and got our packs, and spent about 45 minutes ungracefully and gingerly picking our way down the slope. 

That was enough climbing and exploring for me. I was determined to stay out of the sun for the next few days, and paint 'locally'. Besides being sore and tired, I was in the mood to spend more time painting, and less time walking around out of breath. It was time to get to work.


Julia Lundman said...

I know what you mean about the cool light on the rocks and yet the local color being warm; I struggled with this all week. I think you captured the water really well though. It looks as though there is also an interesting reflection on the water on the left side too. The color up there is sometimes surprising, especially in the deep shadows. So much reflected light everywhere, much more so than in the low lands I think.

I love the shot of Ediza from above! I regret not making it up to Iceberg Lake but felt the same as you - I didn't want to hike around too much for fear of not having enough time to paint!

Looks like you and Ernesto got to paint some pretty arid moon-like terrain up there at the Lord of the Rings lakes! ;)

Bill Cone said...

I think the rocks, being so light in value, make them magnets for color in the shadows. The clarity of the water is pretty astounding in the lakes and streams, which lets you see the depth colors. Its a pretty unique environment in that regard. Its fun to climb around and explore, but there really was plenty to paint almost anywhere you went,..... or stayed. ;-)

Sergio Lopez said...

Cookies! Hee hee! They were good!