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Landmarks | Soaring Over the Sierra #3

When you visit a place time after time, features that were once remarkable or breathtaking can start to seem normal or even become mundane. I don't think that's happened with me yet as I've visited this little slice of the Sierra over the years - or with my Dad over the decades that he's been enjoying this special place - but I still thought it'd be worthwhile to capture some of the landmarks that we enjoy when we're there. Some of these are large, others are small, and surely over the years every one of them will change or we'll find new perspectives from which to view them.

If you recognize any of the places shown in the photos, please help to keep them special by not mentioning their names or locations.


Sleeping Bear

There are many geological formations in this region, but two are more prominent than the rest. Sleeping Bear - about a mile from camp - is perhaps the most visible and its proximity to everyday life means that we get to experience all types of lighting as well as numerous perspectives and angles as we engage in various activities from year to year.

The view from where I sleep; Sleeping Bear is laying on its back, head to the left, feet to the right.

Peaking out behind a granite dome.

Not always in full view, but always recognizable.

Headed up to Lost Knife Knoll, a better view of the bear. When I was first introduced, I thought it was "Little Bear," and that we were looking two ears and the crown of her head.

From Lost Knife Knoll.

A few minutes after sunset.

High in the sky, a new perspective for us, this year.

Domes abound in this magical place, and Sleeping Bear is the tallest of them all.

A view from the head end, rather than the foot, is that a nose and bit of drool I detect?

Another new view for this year - from the side we rarely see, Sleeping Bear towers over ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮  Dome.

Storm's a brewing; get your blanket Sleeping Bear.

I very much enjoyed the light on the granite just before sunset. A warm glow.

Treasure at the end of the rainbow!

A parting shot as we headed home on FR-▮▮▮▮ .

▮▮▮▮▮▮▮  Dome

I'm not sure why, but this is the only prominent dome that we call by its official name. While not as close or easy to photograph as Little Bear, it's easy to see why this is one of the highlights of any view in which it resides.

There's a reason I setup the tent where I do.

Understated under stary skies.

With the dome partially obscured from camp, Lost Knife Knoll is a great place to get a better view... if grounded, you must remain.

Pop into the sky, and suddenly the rest of the iceberg is revealed.

Fly closer, little drone, until you're directly above.

Views rarely seen, and never before by us.

Just after sunset, from afar.

Looking downstream.

A beacon in the darkness.

Even in a torrential downpour, the ghostly outline looms in the distance.

Vibrant after a summer squall.

The Castle

Nestled high on a hillside, The Castle isn't nearly as obvious as other local landmarks. Now presiding over a sea of green turned gray, it's hikable and the resulting views are a worthy reward.

The view from our camp chairs.

Above the trees.

On our way to Lost Knife Knoll.

The Castle above its granite dome.

From the air, a peek behind this rocky fortification.

From a distance, in evening light.

Lost Knife Knoll

The story behind the knoll goes something like this - One year, as my dad and his friends were hiking around camp, they ventured up a nearby ridge to enjoy their lunch. By accident, a knife was left and lost, never to be found the following year. In memory, a second knife was placed under a prominent rock, only to disappear one year. Today, a third knife - placed after the second was found - is stowed in its place, visited annually by those who know of its existence.

From camp, wide screen and high definition.

Under stary skies, Jupiter bright on the horizon.

At sunrise, in a summer downpour.

Unassuming, above a granite dome.

Trees around Camp

Some of the trees around camp have become - at least for me - markers. These are certainly recognizable by Pops and his buddies, but perhaps less meaningful for anyone else.

A sentry guarding the main camp.

Under the stars.

From a slightly different angle.

On a stormy morning.

An old juniper, from two sides.

Two towering giants, unscathed by the Creek Fire.

A young juniper marks the path back from a cold dip and sunning rock.

The Bridge

I'm not sure when this bridge was placed - and I probably wouldn't share even if I knew - but I do know, as of this year, that it was a replacement for one that washed away a bit upstream. A gateway to glorious places, this bridge affords access for those who explore.

On our way to Lost Knife Knoll.

From above, at the head of the chute.

And again, over crystal clear waters.


There are a million places to camp in the woods. Many of them are special. Only one of them is this one.


A tidy place, surrounded by green.


A tree falls in forest. And lands perfectly in the fire ring!


A month before the Creek Fire, @mrs.turbodb visits for the first time.


11 months after the Creek Fire, we return to a charred land. Luckily, a few of the trees immediately surrounding camp survived.


A year later and while the forest isn't as thick as it once was, ground cover is returning, as are the birds.


Another year and a wet winter brought down many trees around camp. We'll leave them to discourage others from overcrowding our little slice of heaven.

From above, a perspective previously only seen at 500mph and from 30K feet.




The Whole Story


  1. Ian Clements
    Ian Clements October 25, 2023

    I'm pretty sure I know where you were. Been a while. I like it because it reminds me of another place and despite claims to the contrary, much less crowded.

    You need a small travel telescope. Or more correctly, something like a Sky Watch Star Adventurer GTi. Camera body and a 200mm lens are enough to make some really cool astrophotos. 🙂

    • turbodb
      turbodb November 9, 2023

      One of the great things about this particular (recurring) trip, is that my dad is a big birder, and so he's always got his spotting scope. So cool to be able to look up into the night sky at a level of detail I can't even comprehend with my camera. No photos of course, but it's such a fun time to sit around the camp fire with him and look out into infinity while we discuss whatever topics come to mind.

      • Ian Clements
        Ian Clements November 9, 2023

        I think that's the purpose of the night sky. To make you while the night away 🙂

  2. Bill Rambo
    Bill Rambo November 4, 2023

    Great Pictures!!!

    • turbodb
      turbodb November 9, 2023

      Thanks Bill!

    • turbodb
      turbodb November 9, 2023

      Now that you mention it, it sort of does, doesn't it! Always fun to find "animals" in nature!

  3. Keith DeMartini
    Keith DeMartini December 1, 2023

    I hope to visit this spot maybe next summer! I found it a few years back after extensive google earthing LOL. Be fun to see if I can find the knife. Thanks for sharing!

    • turbodb
      turbodb December 2, 2023

      Have fun and please don't share the location! Oh, and be aware of area closures. There are many and they are changing from year to year as winter and the aftermath of the Creek Fire impact the area. We definitely don't want to see the entire place closed because people are ignoring the posted Closure Orders.

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