Back in June, Greg Russell and I hiked into Minaret Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. We had a late start, and opted for the comforts of camp and dinner that night in lieu of photographing a very dull and lightless evening as the sun set directly behind the local peaks. But our hopes ran a little higher in the morning, and we staggered out before dawn to try and do justice to the lake’s impressive rockbound shores, with the pointed spires of the Minarets fixed above and waiting to catch the dawn light. I frustrated myself for a while in a vain attempt to find some attractive composition emphasizing the stony lakeshore. But I soon gave up on foreground and decided to shoot pure reflection images instead, and was instantly much happier. The dawn glow came, though it faded off the peaks quickly as a cloud intervened, but the soft filtered light that took its place was perfect for some gentler images, all the more so as the breeze died and the lake grew increasingly glassy.
Of course, I never mind a little more drama in my images, and the Minarets certainly have an ample supply of that.
It has long been known that dodders are “vampire-like” parasitic plants. Like a nightmare from an alien horror film, the dodder wraps itself around its host. It then uses a long probe to literally tap into its victim and drain their fluids.
Researchers had done previous work that found that when the dodder first sinks its “fang” into its victim, it also begins to transport RNA – the DNA translator – between it and its host.
This latest study expands on that, finding that a surprising amount of messenger RNA (mRNA) is constantly being exchanged between both plants during the parasitic relationship….
….like any true vampire, the dodder has a “silver tongue,” sweet-talking its victim into lowering its defenses.
Here it is having its way with a blooming shrub:
Back in June I took my first serious trip into the Sierra Nevada since childhood, in the always excellent company of Greg Russell. Our goals for the trip were vague and shamelessly hedonistic: to spend time in great scenery, have mellow fun, and take what photo opportunities might present themselves. The area we chose for this undemanding plan was the Minarets in Ansel Adams Wilderness, both for the spectacular landscape and because I have family connections with this group of mountains and had wanted to see them up close for years. one of the outstanding pinnacles, Ken Minaret, is named after my grandfather, Kenneth Adam, along with his climbing partner Kenny Davis. My grandfather was not a major figure in the history of Sierra mountaineering, but he pops up around the edges, notably in the Minarets and for having achieved the first ascent of the Royal Arches, a classic route in Yosemite Valley. By the time I knew him, his serious climbing days were done, but he and I spent countless hours in the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe, hiking peaks in the company of improbably small and pampered looking dogs, fishing, messing about in boats and generally exploring. There’s no question that he was a major influence on my life, and though it’s somewhat overshadowed by the higher and pointier peaks of the Minarets, just as he was somewhat overshadowed by the great climbing pioneers of his day, I couldn’t have asked for a finer moment than to watch the morning alpenglow on his namesake mountain and remember all the miles we hiked together.
While looking for images for a recent photo request, I unearthed these two oldies from my 2011 travels in eastern Nevada. Above is a cascade at sunrise in the Ruby Mountains. Below is last light in Baker Creek drainage in Great Basin National Park, looking many thousands of feet down to Snake Valley.