Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sierra Pack Trip - Day 1

So we got up early and caravanned to Rock Creek Pack Station. We dumped all our stuff onto the loading dock and then enjoyed our coffee and breakfast provided by the pack station.

Because we have to haul up our art supplies as well as camping gear, we can't really do it all on our own two feet. Fortunately, mules can do the job for us!  That doesn't mean we hike up empty handed, no. Mules cost money so we were somewhat careful about how much stuff we brought, and anything over the weight limit, we had to carry on our backs. I opted to carry my palette (among other things) with me because it's fitted with glass, and I didn't want to trust it to the rough handling of the cowboys and their beasts.

Our base camp is at Chickenfoot Lake, which is a relatively easy 3.5 mile hike with only a 500ft in elevation gain. (SO much easier than getting to Ediza!) The trails are well worn, and the scenery is spectacular from the first step. We got there in no time. In fact, it was only 10:30am when we arrived at the base camp location. The mules weren't going to be there for another few hours, so we decided to eat our lunches and hike up to Gem Lakes, a collection of beautiful small lakes just 15 or 20 minutes higher up the mountain. (11, 194ft)

This is Long Lake, one of the three (?) lakes along the hike up to our base camp.

Up at Gem. There's more snow than last year, thanks to a long, wet season.

Since we didn't have all our gear with us, and we wouldn't have them until the mules arrived, a few of us decided to hike further up the mountain. Treasure Lakes were just a few hundred feet higher. I don't know how but we clearly did not follow the easiest path. We ended up scrambling up boulders and had a bit of a time getting up there. But the view from above was well worth the exertion.

That's Ernesto on the rock and Bill to the left.  At this elevation, even a little bit of climb is a workout. And we were all challenged by even the easier climbs, not to mention trail-less boulder hopping that we had to do at times. Except Ernesto, who seem not to notice the thin air or the tricky footing. He went up and down any terrain like a mountain goat and left the rest of us in the dust every time. Ah, to be young...

You don't have to be Edgar Payne to want to paint this stuff. Just amazing views everywhere we looked.

By the time we returned to the base camp, I was thoroughly exhausted and didn't feel like painting anymore. Besides, there were chores to be done, like assembling my tent and filling bottles of water and the sun-shower thing. What extra time I had, I just drew in my sketchbook.

This here drawing is Paul and Bob, sitting around waiting for chow time.

They kept moving around, so I turned around and sketched some stuff that didn't move so much.

So on this day (Monday) I did not paint. Too wiped out from the hike. I did get plenty of ideas and inspiration from the other members who were not too tired to set up and paint near the camp. Come morning, I resolved to do a painting from the same location as my first painting from the year before, to see if much has changed in the way I see, or the way I handle color / paint.

Gene, our cook, made a fabulous dinner of hamburgers, pasta salad, beans and I can't remember what else, but it reaaaally hit the spot.

Cook? yes, we had a cook with us, to do all the food stuff, including clean up. That is one of the things that makes these expeditions so awesome. We just paint, and not worry about cooking or cleaning. As luck would have it, Gene was amazing, and we ate VERY well.

My next post will feature some paintings. I promise.


  1. Wow, what a great way to paint the mountains!
    I've never been to the Sierra's, spending all my time in the Cascades. They sure look nice!

    Hiking in with all my gear on my back usually tires me out to much too give 100% attention to painting. What is the name of the outfit that brought you in?

  2. I feel homesick! I wanna go back! Thanks for posting these accounts. Looking forward to the rest.

  3. Ok...wish I was there! Beautiful! We're planning another trip out west next year. I'll be looking forward to painting some mountains myself.

  4. Jesse, Rock Creek Pack Station took care of us. mules, base camp and meals~


  5. I hear ye Bill! Having a tough time readjusting to "normal" life.

  6. Kimberly, Great mountains to explore and paint in California~ don't forget to bring your gear!

  7. Terry, thanks for the day-to-day blow-by-blow. It's always fun to see the results of your expedition. As always, great work!