Lake Serene Hike
Saturday July 11 2009
Melanie selected this hike because it was a hot sunny July day, and she wanted to do a trail that wasn't exposed to the sunlight. We had done this trail previously, so we knew it mostly beneath large shady trees. It is a steep climb the whole way, the hike profile in the book shows a pyramid shape - a straight ascent to the lake, and then a climb back down. Despite the rigor, this is a popular hike, we passed plenty of people on the trail.
Although we had done this hike previously, I did not go back to my website to see the photos from the previous visit. But now that we are back, I see that I took many pictures from the same spots I did the first time. However, this time I am trying a new piece of software from Photomatix, which takes 3 exposures and merges them into one bright picture. I used that batch processing mode, I did not attempt to individually optimize each High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo. I will post the "normal" exposure vs the "HDR" photo, just to compare which result is better. Usually, I like the HDR final image better.
To make these HDR images, I used a program purchased from Photomatix. I usually like the HDR results, but you can form your own opinion - on this webpage, I display the "normal" shot followed by the "HDR" result. (Not all normal shots have a corresponding HDR image.) I found a website that gave a 15% discount on Photomatix list price of $100. All you have to do is type in flyingpanther when purchasing Photomatix. Flying Panther, which looks a website run by a professional photographer, complete with an explanation of how High Dynamic Range photography works.
On our way up to Serene Lake, we took the steep, half mile long side trail up to the Bridal Veil Falls view point. What a pretty waterfall. I wonder what these falls must look like in May or June, when the snow melt is in full force. The bare rocks seem to indicate a massive flow of water must pour off these cliffs in the spring. It must be a spectacular sight, but perhaps snow makes the falls inaccessible that early in the year. Certainly it would be impossible to hike up the steep slope to Lake Serene in deep snow.
Upon arriving at the lake, the air temperature dropped about ten degrees due to the cold snow in the lake basin. It was a dramatic and welcome relief from the heat. I had worked up quite a sweat climbing the trail, it was very nice to sit on Lunch Rock and cool off. Even in July there was plenty of snow along the shore and the peaks. The high peaks along the south side of the lake shield the snow from sun most of the day. When we looked closely, we could see numerous small waterfalls pouring off the side of the mountains.
Lake Serene itself was completely still, no ripples. The reflections on the lake surface were almost perfect. This is such a nice place to visit, no wonder it is so popular. Despite the many hikers, the trail is in excellent condition. Because of our relatively early start, there were not many people on Lunch Rock at the same time as we were there.
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