My Journey Through The Eastern Sierras

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Sunrise Looking Towards Mount Williamson in the Eastern Sierras

Hello everyone and I sorry for my absence of late but I have just returned from the Eastern Sierras. I witnessed some of the best landscape scenery I have seen on a photo trip ever. I made the extended trip after an invitation from fellow photographer Kevin Pieper who asked me how I felt about joining him and his friends to somewhere where it was warm. Up here in the Pacific Northwest this time of year we do not see much in terms of the sun so I decided I needed to go where the weather would cooperate. We decided to meet in Las Vegas sometime in the early morning and drive to wherever it seemed like it was going to be sunny. The other photographers to join us were Dave Forrester, Phil Kuglin, Jesse Estes, and Ryan Dyar.  The trick when deciding where to go is to be where the storm is moving out and the sun is moving in. This is what makes great weather for nature photography and trying to time this transition is not easy. So we decided to rent a SUV at the Las Vegas airport in case of severe snow. This was a blessing, as you will see later on. We decided to have lunch at the infamous crowded In-N-Out Burger and decide where to go. After the four of us lugged in our maps, cell phones, and laptops, we made the decision to head west towards the Californian coast to Lone Pine.


Mount Whitney Illuminated In A Dramatic Sunrise In The Eastern Sierras

Several weather forecasts, analysts, and websites determined that this is where the action would be. While on the way there we went through a several rainstorm in Death Valley that closed all roads and made the adventure one of excitement. After avoiding some extreme puddles and washout from the hills we made to our destiny of Lone Pine.  Lone Pine is a small quaint town along the busy Highway 395 that travels through the Eastern Sierras. Lone Pine was famous for its cowboy visitors and famous movie stars that made western movies in the hills outside of Lone Pine.

A Storm Cloud Moves through Owens Valley In the Alabama Hills

A Storm Cloud Moves through Owens Valley In the Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills is the region where many western films were made starring Roy Rogers and John Wayne. Notable films such as The Lone Ranger, How The West Was Won, and The Gunfighter, were just a few of the movies filmed here. The reason for the location is understandable once you visit the Alabama Hills. They are known for there granite boulders and unique rock formations. All this lies at the foot of the highest point of the Sierras, ich is Mt. Whitney at 14, 496 ft accessed by Whitney Portal trail.


View From The Town Of Lone Pine Along Highway 395

Days later and we are held up in the hotel laying low waiting for the weather to turn. Our predictions of weather were wrong and now we had the decision of moving on to better weather or wait out the storm. After a group decision and a few arguments we decided to give it a few more days. The worst thing on a photo trip is when you look at a long-term weather forecast and nothing but rain is eminent. We made due and our time finally came when the weather began to change and we headed up to the Alabama Hills to shoot the transition in weather. The following image was taken as the clouds began to move out.


Transition As The Storm Moves Out Of The Eastern Sierras


A Break In The Storm As The Sun Peaks Through In The Albama Hills

We spend the rest of the day exploring for future spots and as the sun began to sink I knew I had to find a spot for a possible light show. The problem was we were in a valley and we needed to get to higher ground, and we were too late to get somewhere by car. So I did what needed to be done and hike for higher elevation. Well I am not in the best shape and this was one heck of a hike and finally after an hour I made it to elevations of nothing but snow and a 360-degree view of the Owens Valley.


Pathway Of Light That Leads To A Pink Mount Whitney In The Eastern Sierras

I had the place to myself and it was amazing. While I was shooting I took some time to think how lucky I was to be here and then made my way the long journey back down the mountain to top off a thrilling day. We all went back to the town for a hard earned dinner and discussed heading to the middle of the storm which was making its way through Yosemite National Park.


Unique Rock Boulders In The Alabama Hills - Eastern Sierras

I will be continue this adventure throughout the week and hope you join me for more exciting adventures.


From The Very Top Looking Down On The City Of Lone Pine At Sunset

~ by kevinmcneal on February 22, 2009.

4 Responses to “My Journey Through The Eastern Sierras”

  1. Awesome set Kevin…looks like you guys had the right idea waiting it all out. We had about a day and a haldf of awesome light and conditions in Death Valley before the weather caught us…and we just didnt’ have the time or patience to wait it out…I’m 0-2 at the Alabama Hills…haha

  2. awsome shot’s kevin, never been to alabama hill’s but it’s on my places to go list.

  3. I am finding out my your experiences, Kevin, that good photography is not just a skip in the park and constant luck! You are showing how much planning, discussion, discomfort, waiting and pure disappointment play such a big part as well as very hard work! But the results are fantastic! I am really living this through your diaries! Thank you so much and keep it up, Kevin, I love it! Katherine P.S. Love your shots on Webshots!

  4. Great Pics! Brings back many memories of the days I spent in my most favorite place in the states. You titled one pic “from the very top” well until you climb, as I did, to the top of Mt. Whitney and take a pic of Lone Pine, you can never really name a pic “from the top”.

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