Thanks to my obsession with travel photography I have given my friends back home a healthy dose of fomo (fear of missing out) and as a result they have been nagging me to bring them along. I welcomed this nagging with open arms because traveling with others helps you relive the experiences over and over [How to Be a Good Travel Buddy.] Considering most of my friends have traditional full-time 9-5 jobs I decided to plan a trip around the three-day Memorial Weekend. This would allow enough time to account for roundtrip traveling and relaxation, but this also would guarantee running into huge crowds of everyone else in the country that was on vacation. Crowds really aren’t my thing. If I wanted to spend a weekend surrounded by hoards of people I might as well have just stayed in Los Angeles and drove westbound on the 10 freeway at 3pm. So what was my master itinerary for a successful relaxing trip with a dash of adventure and excitement?
I decided to have the group leave early Saturday morning. We would spend 3 days and 2 nights in the Eastern Sierra. We would spend the first day at Alabama Hills, then move up to Lee Vining, and end the 3-day weekend at Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
View my trip itinerary here: bit.ly/MemorialItinerary
We arrived in Alabama Hills around 10am. Once we mutually agreed on a level spot to make camp unloaded our stuff and ditched the cars. We were hoping that the tall, circling rocks would provide coverage against the wind.
The obeliscal rocks also served as a delightful, playground for climbing. You can always count on the power of thousands of year old rocks to ignite that inner child in you.
During my last visit to Alabama Hills I only had time to able to hike and photograph the infamous Mobius Arch. This time around I was able to visit the other neighboring arches: Boot Arch and Cyclopes Arch.
Fortunately/unfortunately (depending upon your perspective) later in the afternoon we noticed that the overhead passing clouds were darkening and sluggishly dragging themselves across the valley. This was bad news because it meant that we were in for a rough windy and rainy night. This was fabulous because originally the weather forecasted predicted the storm would hit on Sunday –my group would be up near Tioga Pass. Hunkering down with the storm earlier in Alabama Hills meant that we’d only have to deal with 20 mph winds and rain instead of freezing temperatures plus snow in Lee Vining.
As the storm was arriving we rushed backed to our campsite and put everything that couldn’t and shouldn’t get wet back into the cars. We even had to tear down and pack away one of the tents whose poles couldn’t withstand the wind. Later in the evening the members of the packed away tent would sleep in the parked cars.
Then no reason at all (except perhaps for a literal close bonding experience) 6 people jumped into a small 2-person backpacking tent. Backpacking tents differ from car camping tents by being more compacted, lighter in weight, and having a lower profile. All of which is not conducive for 6 grown adults to be dining side by side in. The human Tetris jigsaw puzzle boxed in a tiny 2-person tent while winds gusted at 20 mph made a tons of laughs. When your day is cut short thanks to conditions out of your control laughing about the situation is the best way to deal bear with it.
I cooked dinner under the tiny tent’s vestibule then went into a food comatose in hopes that when I’d woke up the storm would have passed.
I woke up around 6am the next morning to grab a few shots of the surrounding landscapes changing with the rising the sun. In the same manner as my commercial work, lighting is crucial to making the shot. When I’m out in nature I like to think of the natural feature I’m photographing (mountain, tree, rock formation, etc.) as one giant face! My next thought is “What kind of light would be most flattering to this giant face’s best features?” Try asking yourself that next time you go out and photograph a landscape.
Luma the dog was up early as well and joined me for a morning stroll to capture a purple and golden layered mountain. Once we were satisfied with our images we hiked back to camp to stow away our things and be off to our next location, Lee Vining!
This is Part 1 of a 3 part blog series for Memorial Weekend. Stay tuned for Part 2 (Lee Vining) and Part 3 (Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.)
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