Googling Pyramid Peak

On the road…again!!!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester

By Dick Pellek


Googling Pyramid Peak


Another day, another dream, and another chronicle about nagging problems.  The long-festering issue about which screen capture photos from the Internet are free of copyright restrictions welled up again in last night’s dream. Among the most important unresolved problems, one has always been about a particular photograph of Pyramid Peak in the Crystal Range of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Why a problem about a picture of a mountain? 

Pyramid Peak stands like a sentinel guarding all of the lesser peaks and glacial lakes in the Crystal Range. It towers above them all as the highest peak in the region. It commands a complete view of the trail connecting Island Lake and Twin Lakes, the final resting place where the ashes of the Footloose Forester may someday be scattered.  Further down the trail adjacent to the gently flowing Silver Creek, the popular alpine destination of Wrights Lake beckons the eye and the imagination.  Surrounded by forest on all sides, Wrights Lake itself was a favorite grazing destination of the Washoe Tribe who wintered around Lake Tahoe with their herds but used the Wrights Lake area for summer range.  Most important, the Footloose Forester spent some of the happiest times of his life around Wrights Lake, one reason why he wants his ashes to be scattered nearby.  Pyramid Peak will keep watch over them.

When climbing up into the cool environs of Wrights Lake from the heat of California’s Central Valley during summer months, visitors used to get a glimpse of Pyramid Peak as they splashed through the shallow ford at Silver Creek, a few miles below Wrights Lake.  It is there where the splendor of Pyramid Peak is most dramatic. In summer its apex is barren but in early winter it is perhaps the first peak to wear a white halo of snow.  The dramatic contrast between the green needles of the pine and fir forests at its base and the soft white snow that adorns its flanks is spectacular.  Pyramid Peak is an icon.


To do justice to fond memories of the past, a snow-blanketed Pyramid Peak should be part and parcel of the compelling image that persists. It is beyond being a personal wish.  In these chronicles, it has been gratifying to show and to share a photo and the splendor of Pyramid Peak.  But up until the present time, the Footloose Forester is prohibited from inserting that same photo in a book he is attempting to publish.  It’s all about the copyright laws.  A private photographer in California took the photo he wants to use and has the copyright on its use.  The irony is, that same photographer apparently shared his copyrighted photo on an Internet website called Panoramio, a now discontinued photo sharing website where Footloose Forester saw it and downloaded it to his files. They shared the photo and he took advantage of the offer open to all registered Google Earth users. Although the Footloose Forester eventually identified the photographer and offered to pay a royalty fee to the photographer, the man refused and said that he would never give his permission.  Thus, a problem with a photo of a mountain.

Once again, after waking from a dream troubled with loose ends, the Footloose Forester determined that his best bet was to go into the Google Earth archives and seek out a ground-level photo of Pyramid Peak taken from the perspective of the roadway on the Wrights Lake Road, precisely at the ford of the South Fork of Silver Creek.   That is exactly where the photographer took his picture years ago and that is where a Google Earth and copyright-free image of Pyramid Peak should be found.  For the curious, that dot on the map is located at latitude 38°49' 17.64" N and longitude 20°15' 14.99" W.  That majestic mountain is the baby in the bathwater of a story that is too personal to ignore; and the youthful memories are too precious to abandon in defeat.


Pyramid Peak as seen from the South Fork of Silver Creek


These days a small but modern bridge spans the South Fork of Silver Creek, but to do justice to the fond memories of the past, a snow-blanketed Pyramid Peak from the vantage point of Silver Creek has been retained as part and parcel of the compelling image that persists. It is beyond being a personal wish to retain some things from the past, and that image is indelible.

The contested photo above is exempt from copyright rules because there is no commercial benefit derived when it is used in a social media website such as  Alas, the ground-level Google Earth facsimile that was sought was not available with a coating of fresh snow. The quest continues.

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