Long Lake, The High Sierras
The tectonic plates uplifted a long ranges of granite mountains (North and South) and folded other terrain into a 400-mile long high valley. The Valley is bordered by the Eastern and Western Sierras which go on forever. The Western Sierras, called the "Inconsolable Range" is lined with mountains that are all 13,000 feet or better. Looking East from the Valley, you see a similar range, crowned by snow-covered Mt. Whitney at 14,000 feet plus. Whitney is the tallest in the lower 48.
As you drive North, you run into many interesting things, including: Mono Lake, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Mammoth Lake and the Yosemite Nation Park. Yosemite might be considered the crown jewel of the American Park system.
We show up at 9,600 feet for our all day horseback ride into the high Sierras. Our horses are saddled up and ready. Mine is a muscular brute named "Clyde". The cowboys speculate that Clyde is part Belgian or part Clydesdale. Clyde likes to stop and munch on green things or drink brook water. He has immediately pegged me as a patsy.
The trail up to Long Lake at 12,000 feet is rocky. Often the horses walk close to the edge of cliffs on narrow trails. I figure that millions of years of evolution has made them sure-footed and hope that Clyde is not clinically depressed about his menial job.
Our trail guide, Jesse, mentions that this is his summer job. Under questioning, he admits to being a literature major at Yale. Turns out he studied two years at "Deep Springs" University. They accept 13 male applicants each year from a pool of 250 and study in the remote desert. Most of his desert classmates transfer to Yale (possibly the most prestigious University in America. The CIA recruits heavily at Yale.
After climbing rock ledges and switchback trails for two hours, we pass though the snow line and reach Long Lake at 12,000 feet. It's a lovely spot for lunch so we eat our sandwiches.
Mrs. Phred takes over the camera at the turning point.
I mount Clyde for the return trip.
Mrs. Phred snaps a shot of our trail guide, Jesse, on the return trip and cuts off his head.