Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Bee photographer was part of snow-surveying crew

Fresno Bee photographer Mark Crosse — yes, his name is very similar to mine — took the stunning photographs in the high Sierra for my story about the snowpack today. But he came back talking about more than just the gorgeous scenery.

Mark Crosse’s photo of Blackcap Basin, taken from PG&E’s helicopter on Tuesday.

Snowpack photo assignments usually involve a quick helicopter ride to one mountain meadow where you take a picture of hydrographers. Not this time.

Crosse wound up as part of the crew, writing down the record of snow measurement at each of the five stops that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. made Tuesday in the Sierra. In these times of economic strain, PG&E has streamlined its operation, so everybody gets involved.

The photographer said he really didn’t know what to expect. He found that PG&E hydrographer Christine Bohrman and pilot Brett Hendricks were amiable companions and keeping records was not difficult.

“It was a fantastic day flying in a helicopter, seeing the Sierra up close and just being part of it,” he said. “My name is in the register as the record keeper for those places.”

The places included wind-swept Blackcap Basin above 10,000 feet in the Kings River watershed. These high Sierra basins are amazing to see in summer, but Crosse had the opportunity to photograph one from a helicopter in March with snow everywhere.

That stop simply was not usually part of the itinerary in past years.

Crosse and I have backpacked for  stories at The Bee over the last 18 years — Mount Whitney, Half Dome, lengthy sections of the John Muir Trail. He is no stranger to interesting outdoor photography. But he said this assignment stands out.

“This assignment is on my list as one of the best experiences I’ve had at The Bee,” he said.

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