Last week, I took off on the first free weekend that I’ve had in a month. I had spent the previous few weeks up to my eyeballs in work between beginning a new school year and various home improvement projects. Somewhere in there I also found time to build a makeshift platform for a bed of sorts in my Prius and I was eager to try it out on a quick two night trip up to the Eastern Sierras in an attempt to grab some Autumn color before it was gone for the year.
As hard as it might be to believe, there was a time when I wasn’t very excited about shooting the Eastern Sierras. I think I took my first trip up the 395 about 15 years ago as I was trying to find a way to get to the Reno Jazz festival without having to take my students through the snow over Donner Summit, and as I was the one who was driving for 8 hours, all I remembered after I got back home was seemingly hundreds of miles of unbroken, desolate desert. “Bah”, I thought to myself. Next time I’ll stick with the 99 as there are more restaurants and gas stations. Not a cloud in the sky on that trip, and it was hot. Very hot. Pfft. And who are those sad people who live in Bishop or Lone Pine…on PURPOSE?
But as I got into photography a few years later, I began seeing other photographers’ shots of the Eastern Sierra, including photos by Galen Rowell, Michael Frye, Marc Adamus, and more. I hadn’t seen anything like what was shown in these photos on that trip and it began to occur to me that I was missing out on something spectacular and that this spectacular something was only 5 hours from my house.