Sheep, Morning Fog. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 12, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A flock of sheep grazes under morning fog in an eastern Sierra Nevada meadow
There is a long tradition of grazing sheep (and cattle) in parts of the Sierra Nevada. Many years ago they were taken to the high country in the summer season – a practice that Muir railed against, describing their effect on the vegetation of the high Sierra as that of “hoofed locusts.” Today we don’t see grazing in the high country anymore since these areas are now protected as wilderness, outside or inside national parks in many cases. But the tradition continues in the lower country along the eastern side of the range.
For many years I have seen the occasional flock of sheep on the east side, sometimes close to the mountains (as is the case here) and more often a bit further out into the semi-desert highlands. Often there will be a shepherd standing guard and perhaps a sheep dog or two. (One flock we saw this time also contained, for reasons that I can’t quite understand, a single black mule.) Sometimes you will see the small trailer nearby where the shepherd lives. The flock in this photograph was one of two very large groups in close proximity to one another in an area south of Mammoth Lakes and right alongside highway 395. I had driven here to try to photograph the morning fog that was drifting from Crowley Lake, and we got there just as it was clearing from this spot, with light beams shining through the breaks in the cloud.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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