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Thread: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

  1. #1

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    Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    If anyone knows the current road condition of the road to Ansel’s Mt. Williamson photo location please let me know.

    I would like to go in the next two days.

    I have a small SUV.

    Thanks

    Gary
    Last edited by gary892; 8-Apr-2022 at 18:36.
    "People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." - H. Jackson Brown

  2. #2

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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    I don't know the exact location other than it was near, most likely west of, Manzanar. You can drive around the perimeter of the monument and there are numerous dirt roads in the vicinity. We have had a mild winter so dirt roads are generally passable.

  3. #3
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    I've sured pissed off a lot of people by stating the obvious. But it never was a picture of Mt Williamson. Not even close. The peak in the background is actually just a minor spur on a ridge directly to the west of the now restored historic site of Manzanar, where Adams took it. The REAL Mt Williamson is a much bigger peak visible from there, but 7 miles to the north, and over 2000 feet higher than the point in Adam's shot. To photograph the real deal, I recommend the decent dirt road to the Shepherd Pass trailhead parking lot below it, which is snow-free much of the year, but not always. I suspect Adams pegged the Mt Williamson title to make that background point sound more impressive than it really is, since the real Mt Williamson is the second highest peak of the range. Of course, that unnamed point, approximately below the summit of Mt Alice, is quite photogenic in its own right; but there are many much higher peaks in the vicinity. What especially works is Adams alignment of it to a prominent background boulder. The original neg had a terrible fixer fingerprint in the upper sky, making print afterward spotting a real nightmare.

    Short answer, both road locations are no doubt open at the moment. Manzanar is right beside Hwy 395 somewhat north of Lone Pine, with distinct signage. Then you have to go maybe another 10 or possibly 15 miles further north on 395, preferably with a map, and as I recall, take the paved road out of Independence toward Onion Valley a short distance until the dirt Shepherd Pass trailhead road branches off southwesterly. But there are all kinds of dirt road weaving in and out of the sagebrush around there, so double check. But if you just generally aim for Mt Williamson when leaving the pavement, it's hard to miss - really a big spectacular peak on the skyline, nothing like the one in Adam's shot.

  4. #4
    Martin Aislabie's Avatar
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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    Also, remember that AA took the shot from a platform on the roof of his car.

    Martin

  5. #5

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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    The REAL Mt Williamson is a much bigger peak visible from there, but 7 miles to the north, and over 2000 feet higher than the point in Adam's shot.... that unnamed point, approximately below the summit of Mt Alice, is quite photogenic in its own right.
    I’m a bit confused here. Mount Williamson is about five miles to the south of due west of Manzanar, at an azimuth of about 240° from the cemetery; Mount Alice is roughly WSW of Big Pine, so it’s about 27 miles to the north of due west of Manzanar, and at an azimuth of 327° from the cemetery.

  6. #6
    http://www.spiritsofsilver.com tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    Here is a photo I took of the Japanese Internment Cemetery at Manzanar with, I believe, Mt Williamson in the background: https://www.spiritsofsilver.com/yaho...5728_large.jpg https://www.spiritsofsilver.com/yaho...5728_large.jpg You can reach this point by 2-wheel drive automobile and I recall seeing dirt roads running along the base of the mountains in the background.

    Edit: SummitPost.org Shows a dirt road leading directly to Mt Williamson and gives the following directions: SHEPHERD'S PASS TRAILHEAD (standard approach):From Independence, head west on Market Street for 4.2 miles. Turn left on Foothill Road, which is a gravel road. After driving on Foothill drive for 2.7 miles, you will pass a sign with a hiker symbol on the right and a “Symmes Creek” sign in the center. Keep left and continue for another 0.5 mile. Then, turn right at the intersection where the sign says “Shepherd Pass Trailhead.” Drive another 1.4 miles along a rough gravel road (but still passable with a low-clearance 2wd vehicle) until reaching the trailhead.

    Thomas

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    Jeff - Get a real MAP. I'll explain in a moment. No mountain climber would confuse these like AA did. The notoriously long and steep Shepherd Pass trail follows Symmes Creek uphill just like Thomas has just stated, just to the north of the Williamson massif. I've photographed Mt Williamson from several directions, the last time from Kaweah Basin, a rather hard area to get into. It' the conspicuous king of a cluster of fourteeners well to the north of Manzanar counting creek-canyon wise, yet well north of the Mt Whitney area above Lone Pine and the Alamba Hills. But Williamson, Mt Tyndale etc is south of the chain of fourteeners which comprise the dramatic Palisade Range just west of Big Pine. Hard to miss the general distinction either direction.

    If you link onto summitpost per Mt Williamson, the main photo is exactly what it looks like from the Symmes Creek trailhead road. Then follows descriptions useful for climbers. It's a tricky peak where quite a few people have died. I've never personally been to the summit, but only atop an adjacent much easier peak with Sinar gear - and that was an all-day enterprise starting from a camp already 10,000 ft high.

    Due to the continuous chain-like nature of peaks on the eastern front of the Sierra, it's hard to appreciate from a distance that Williamson is even bigger and higher than Grand Teton or Mt Moran in Wyoming. But it does stand out by its dominance over its neighboring peaks in a manner the slightly higher Mt Whitney further south doesn't. Whitney has a trail used by thousands annually to the top, while Williamson involves 9,000 feet of vertical danger above its desert foundation level. I tried fiddling around with long 6X7 tele shots of the silhouettes of these peaks, esp Williamson, from the trail access junction through smoke haze last summer. It could have made an interesting composition if it had worked out, but the forest fire smoke was just too unpredictably dense, and my lungs wouldn't tolerate it much longer, so I left for the Bristlecones on the opposite side of Owens Valley, where the sky was blue, and the air breathable.

    Checking topo maps, the seeming peak which AA shot is a point above the Bairs Creek drainage south of Williamsom, which was the water source of Manzanar. From AA's actual camera position, any real summit of Williamson itself is hidden by those frontal ridges. But it can be seen from the general Manzanar Hwy 395 area and distinctly appears as if to the north highway-wise, if not technically compass-wise. I failed to duly account for the somewhat westerly trend of the range looking north, so physically attributed Williamson there, just like I myself would think of south to north progression along those summits as if parallel to the truly south-north progression of the long Kern River Canyon just to the west far below.

    Sorry for that; I'm not a GPS device, and have always navigated my way through those mtns visually more like an Indian or early explorer would have done. But the road access to view it frontally is dstinctly to the north. My mother's uncle was one of the founders of the little town of Big Pine there along Hwy 395, and I even have an album of old cyanotypes and albumen prints of it under construction.

  8. #8

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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Jeff - Get a real MAP.... I'm not a GPS device
    Drew, I’m (hopefully) not a GPS device, either. I’m not sure what constitutes a “real MAP,” but here’s what I show for Mount Williamson from the Manzanar cemetery; the blue marker is just east of the monument:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	MtWilliamsonPhotoAz220410.jpg 
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    And here’s an elevation profile:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	MtWilliamsonPhotoElevProf220410.jpg 
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ID:	226457

    The latter suggests that the actual summit may be occluded by a foreground ridge, but the height difference is on the order of a couple hundred feet. In practice, my photos of Mount Williamson (or whatever it may be) are pretty similar to TG’s. I’ve photographed Mount Williamson from Manzanar, the Alabama Hills, and Dante’s View in Death Valley. Interesting note for the last one: from Dante’s view, you can see Mount Williamson but not Mount Whitney.

    I agree that Adams had a tendency to embellish, especially in his later years (Moonrise is a good example)—but I think he called this one as it was.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    If you go to Examples etc and look at the repro of that image, you'll see that the line which you should draw goes from that foreground boulder up through the middle of a deep stream canyon toward a distant point at the skyline, BETWEEN two lower tent-like pseudo-peaks each a little over 9000 feet high - and NOT aligned high point to high point like you have drawn it. From memory, I think I can identify what each of those are. And from the opposite side, across Kern Canyon, it's evident just how wide or long William is north to south, and that any seeming summit in that picture had to be something comparatively minor distinctly south-ish. It would be helpful to revisit Manzanar and exactly locate the big boulder in question as a reference. At the visitor center they no doubt know exactly where it is, and might even have formally identified on some outdoor trail by now.

    Lined up more accurately BETWEEN those two specific lower tent-like sub-peaks which I recognize, the aim is distinctly south of Williamson and further back, and to something smaller and more pointy than anything identifiable on the long summit ridge of Williamson itself. TROJAN PEAK would be the most likely candidate : reasonably high, in the right position, and at that actual angle. So, for multiple reasons, i stand with my original opinion that it's not Mt Williamson at all. One only needs to be slightly northeasterly of Manzanar to make out the classic shape of Williamson instead, which is entirely different from what is in AA's photo in its far distance.

    Otherwise, you seem to understand how I spoke of the location of Willamson relative to Manzanar in the intuitive manner that we think of Hwy 395 in its labeled north or south direction, while it really trends somewhat diagonal in that area; likewise the orientation of the steep eastern front of the Sierra itself parallel to the highway. It's the way a backpacker or climber might look at the question. Most climbers approach Willamson well to the nominal north of Manzanar. I guess the younger GPS or navigation device set might do otherwise; but staring at one of those devices has its disadvantages on a climb. I was given a really nice GPS watch as a retirement present, but still go crazy with its too-many options, and mainly use it for its long-exposure stopwatch feature. I learned to map with an antique brass transit anyway.

  10. #10

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    Re: Road to Mt. Williamson photo location

    Greetings,
    as the original poster, my goal was to attempt to drive to the location where Ansel made the photograph, named by himself as Mt. Williamson.

    If Ansel was mistaken about the name of the mountain then those who wish to discuss the actual name of the mountain please do so, it makes interesting reading.

    As for my attempt to drive to the mentioned location, it was not successful.

    I managed to drive about a mile to the reservoir but encountered a gully too deep and wide for my small suv to navigate. I made the decision to turn around and be satisfied with my attempt.

    This will most likely be my only attempt due to health reasons and I am satisfied with that.

    Thank you for all the feedback and suggestions.

    Please continue the discussion about the name.

    Gary
    "People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." - H. Jackson Brown

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