Friday, September 19, 2014


Friday night Jenny arrived and we could start our road trip the next morning.  Saturday we got the car packed up and ready to go.  We crammed the Tahoe to the brim with all of our camping equipment by mid morning.  But, what's a road trip without a few bumps in the road?  The first monkey wrench in our road trip was that the car would die when we tried to drive it.  We replaced the battery and drove it just to test that it wouldn't die on us.  Many thanks to Steve the family mechanic of the Ersbak's to come down and replace our battery on super short notice! 

Our first major destination was to go to Mammoth and visit a family friend of the Ersbak's and stay there a few nights.  We drove inland passing Death Valley on the right and Mt. Whitney on the left.  We had to stop for a few pictures of Whitney.  Then to Bishop, climbing land!  We made a stop at the beef jerky place called Mahogany Smoked Meats.  If you are ever passing through Bishop you have to stop here for some fresh jerky, I highly recommend the teriyaki and the sweet and spicy style.  After 6 or more hours of driving we finally made it to Mammoth and the Day's residence.  Claus and Christine made it up to Mammoth the day before and were hanging out in Mammoth for the weekend.  When we got there the Day's welcomed us with refreshments and their giant back of some tall granite peaks.  We chit chatted for a few hours and soon it was dinner time.  As the sun was setting I couldn't resist but taking a few pics.  Just across the valley was the White mountains.  Looking South we could see the canyon where a lot of rock climbers would go for world class bouldering.  After some dinner we talked about plants and animals of Hawaii.  Donalda Day was really interested in the flora and fauna of Hawaii.  I showed her a few of my pics and made recommendations when they go up to Maui.

It was getting late but Christian was out photographing the night sky.  I went out to join him, luckily I was still awake since all the stars were out and the Milky Way was showing just above those granite peaks.  We stayed out till about midnight trying to get awesome pictures.  I could have stayed out there all night but we had a hike the Day's were going to take us on the next day.  Some of the Milky Way shots turned out epic! 

We got up around 7 the next morning to get ready for the hike.  The Day's were going to take us on our first Yosemite hike to an alpine lake.  They said it was "easy" 4-5 mile round trip.  We got to the trail head just inside the Tioga entrance to the park.  The scenery on Tioga road was beautiful.  We passed tall granite mountains, waterfalls, and big lakes.  The beginning of the hike was all up hill.  We started just below 10,000 feet and probably topped out over 10,000 feet.  The hike uphill was brutal and everyone in our group was feeling it.  Gaining elevation at so high was difficult for me because I'm used to low elevation.  When we reached the peak we could see the lakes we were going to.  Gaylor lakes was a deep blue surrounded by rolling hills of granite and lots of pine trees.  We made our way down to the lake where we'd take our first good break.  Mike Day told us that this was one of the warmer alpine lakes and during the summer season tons of people would be swimming in it.  Today no one was dumb enough to swim in it except for me.  I stripped down to my undies and slowly waded my way in until I was too deep to wade anymore.  Total time for staying in the water was probably under a minute it was so cold.  Luckily it was a nice sunny day where I could dry off quickly.  After drying off the group made their way to Upper Gaylor lakes.  We had our lunch there and headed back to the car.  We made a few stops on the way back to the house.  Christian had to pick up a fishing license to fish while we were in Yosemite and Claus had to pick up his winter pass to ski in Mammoth during the winter season.  We made it back to the house just in time for some dinner.  Again the stars were out and we shot late into the evening. 

The next morning Christian had to send out pictures to his clients so he had some work to do in the morning.  I was pooped from the day before and stayed with him at the house to cruise around and wait for some opportune pics of some hummingbirds.  The Day's took Katie and Jenny out to do a short hike up the road before lunch.  After lunch we planned on going to the Bristlecone Pine Forest.  The Bristlecone Pines are the oldest known living organism on the planet.  Some pines are over 5,000 years old!  We made a stop at the museum and talked to a person from the Forest Reserve staff.  Lauren told us about her passion working for a National Botanic Park Preserve.  She also shared a few facts and a story about Methuselah the oldest known living tree in this park.  The where abouts of Methuselah are kept secret since the felling of Prometheus.  Prometheus was the oldest known living individual but a graduate student with the help of park service cut it down in lieu of research of the ice age.  Walking amongst these ancient trees gave me chicken skin... all I could think about was what would these trees say if they could talk?  After a late afternoon stroll through these trees we went to a Mexican restaurant to eat.  It was our last night in Mammoth, I'm definitely going to come back, this place is pretty cool.  The next morning we said our goodbyes and thank you's to the Day's and we headed off to Yosemite National Park. 

Thank you again Donalda and Mike for taking us in.  I really enjoyed staying at your place and all of your hospitality.  If you ever come to Hawaii soon let us know!  We'd like to show you folks around! 

The start of the madness.  Small kind over packed. 

Christian being a gangstah. 

This wasn't a airport.  It was where airplanes go and die. 

Never ending road. 

Mt. Whitney is to the right by the jagged peaks.  From this point of view the mountain in the center looks the tallest but it's not. 

Near Bishop, you need to stop here for jerky. 

Snacks for the road trip. 

Late afternoon at the Day's residence. 

The colors of the sun as it sets on White mountains.

Stars came out to dance. 

Milky Way was spectacular and clear since there was no light pollution. 

Donalda leading the way to Gaylor lakes. 

Katie stopping to enjoy the scenery. 

Catching our breath. 

Christian and Jenny were happy to see Gaylor Lake. 

The water was inviting but cold. 

Upper Gaylor Lake.

Heading back out.  Gaylor lake down there. 

Father and two daughters. 

Twin falls. 

Posted up in the morning at some bird feeders hoping to catch a hummingbird. 

Trying to freeze action. 

Lauren talking story in the visitor center.

First capture of a Bristlecone Pine.  Such character...

The tree had a golden glow to it.

These are the pine cones oozing with sap. 

Every tree was different. 

Christian getting a close shot. 

I noticed this bird pecking around at some dead trees.  Possibly looking for bugs.  Donalda told me it was a White Breasted Nuthatch.

Treescape nearing golden hour. 

I was amazed how old these trees were. 
#straightroadtrippin from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Newport Beach (The Wedge)

Starting off our road trip in California Katie and I flew in a little early to get adjusted to the time and get supplies for our Yosemite leg of the trip.  We flew in on a Tuesday afternoon to LAX airport.  The first night we decided to hit up Chipotle's for dinner.  We had dinner with Katie's dad and Christine.  That night we also planned out what we'd do the next day.  I really wanted to eat In n out and go see The Wedge, a famous surf break. 

The next day we took the trek down to Newport Beach.  The commute was about an hour away.  When we arrived I was blown away at how crowded it was on a Wednesday morning.  There were tons of people in and out of the water.  The waves were not as big as reported but big enough for some 6ft (Hawaiian scale) close out sets.  Creating these big waves was a hurricane just southwest of Cali, hurricane Marie was generating winds just a few hundred miles off shore.  There were only bodysurfers at the main break, and a few bodyboarders and a surfer on the break right over from The Wedge.  Some of the guys on boards were taking a few cracks from the close out sets.  The bodysurfers at the main break were making the waves look easy, taking vertical drops and driving through some big barrels.  Most of the barrels for the bodysurfers were unmakeable but I bet they had a mean view from inside the barrels.  You can bet if I had a wetsuit some fins and a board I would have been out there.  Maybe next time...

After watching the waves Katie and I hit up REI for some supplies for the road trip.  It is always like Disneyland for hikers going in there, wanting to buy everything I walked out with a handful of things.  A quick stop at In n Out made it better.  That night we got to visit Katie's good friend Laura and her boyfriend Roy.  One of my goals for this trip was to see some bears.  Roy said there were a few bears in his backyard just hours before we arrived to his place.  I could only pray I get to see a bear or some kind of apex predator on this trip.  That night we got dinner at a pub and picked up Christian from the airport.  After we picked him up he jetted down to see some his family he hadn't seen in a while.    The day after we mulled around and ran a few more errands.  Picked up some food for the camp trip and had dinner with some family.  On Friday we start our epic road trip...

As we approached the beach it was lined with spectators watching some waves. 

On the left side of the picture is the break called 'The Wedge'.

This is what it looked like when we saw a set come in.  A bodysurfer takes a vertical drop in a tube. 

The cones were the barrier for the common folks.  In the distance a bodysurfer preps himself before heading into the chaos. 

Lifeguards walked the beach making sure no one got swept out to sea. 

There was also a boat full of lifeguards making sure that the surfers didn't get into too much trouble. 

This bodysurfer made it look easy dropping into a wave at the Wedge. 

I wondered why there were no surfers or bodyboarders out at the main break.  Supposedly after 10:30 am all surfers with boards need to come out and let the bodysurfers get a crack at the waves. 
One break down there were two bodyboarders that entered the water. 

These guys for sure got some on the head from this wave. 

The previous bodyboarders lured some beginners into the water as well.  This guy has a foam board that you might find at the ABC store down the road.  He also has NO swim fins! 

  Ten minutes into his session his board gets ripped away from him trying to catch white wash.  He makes it to shore and the lifeguards approach him to talk to him about the dangers of going in unprepared.  He could have drowned. 

On a decent size wave a bodyboarder flies high with a move called the invert.

  For my hour at The Wedge bodysurfers reigned supreme catching waves like this one.  Simply amazing. 

The Wedge from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

The night after visiting The Wedge we had dinner at a family members house.  I got a chance to sneak away outside and capture the sunset.  The second picture is downtown LA.  You can see all the smog from the city.  Even though the smog is bad it created some brilliant colors in the sky.