Round Top (10,381′). I enjoy this peak above Carson Pass. Good summit trail. Captured this image after sunrise on my hike out. 1/50 sec, f/9, ISO 100; Canon 6D, 100-400mm (118mm, cropped).

Up at 4AM and out the door by 4:30, headed for Carson Pass and a short pre-dawn hike to the tarn at Carson Gap. Again, the access to the pass and its surroundings is so easy and relatively quick — still pretty quiet in the early hours of the last day of the Labor Day weekend. The trailhead has more overnight cars than I saw as I started my trail run over Carson Pass to Meiss Meadows on Saturday morning, but there are still plenty of spaces just before 5:30. I sign in, grab the pack and headlamp, and start up the trail.

Always mildly spooky at the get-go, but soon I settle in to the quiet and slowly growing light. It’s only about a half-hour hike to the pass. I make a couple video recordings to get some sounds and check the light (the video results are ok, but the audio is, as expected, mostly terrible). Ok, if I’m talking right into the camera but otherwise useless. I am probably not cut out for vlogging.

It was on Saturday’s run over the pass that I first encountered the small tarn and its reflecting views of Round Top beyond the pass to the south. The setting is perfect of some compositions of Round Top, a peak I have climbed several times, and I am sure astrophotography from the tarn would be special.

 

Carson Gap tarn. I waited for sunrise under a practically cloudless sky. Enjoyable for recon along the PCT south of Carson Pass. 1.8 sec, f/11, ISO 100; Canon 6D, 17-40mm (40mm).

This morning, the Monday of Labor Day, I was half-afraid I would find someone camped at the pond, but, as I crest the pass, coming immediately upon the tarn, I see I easily have it all to myself. Perfect, but for a rather uninteresting sky. Seems to be some low clouds to the east, out of sight but muting the sunrise so not much hitting Round Top. Nonetheless, there is a brief moment of goodness and I bracket some shots (2 stops around center). I position myself on on the north side of the pond to get some rushes in foreground and a slight mirror of the distant and striking Round Top. As the sun continues to rise, though still not in view, I get several more bracketed exposures, but the last image of Round Top appears to be the best, at least from the jpeg on the back of the camera.  I try another position further west to capture a few more clouds and reflections of Elephant Back.

Tarn and Elephant Back. It was worth a try. 1/8 sec, f/11, ISO 100; Canon 6D, 17-40mm (40mm, cropped).

I notice, as I am packing up to leave, a trail leading up the long ridge west of the tarn of Little Round Top, a minor but prominent highpoint northwest of Carson Pass. The unmarked trail diverges from the PCT in the brush along the south side of the tarn and heads upward to the northwest. It is worthy of a run soon, and I find a few good bivy spots. I will be sure to get back up here for a night of astrophotography.

I head back down to the trailhead carrying the camera with the 70-200mm telephoto, hoping for some wildlife. I left the tripod attached thinking that might be useful — really just a hindrance.  Although there are some cute birds twittering around, I am way too close to the trailhead for anything of interest. On the other hand, it is a very nice walk out.  I am back to the trailhead by 8AM and home by 9. Nice.