After leaving Lee Flat at around 4:15 in the morning we drove to the town of Lone Pine and grabbed a mug of coffee. Just a few more miles to the Alabama Hills along the Eastern Sierra Mountains and the sky was showing a faint glow to the east.
More than 400 movies and hundreds of television episodes have been shot in the Alabama Hills, located just west of Lone Pine, California. I did not come just to see where Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Humphrey Bogart, and, more recently, Robert Downey, Jr. played on the rocks. I came to see the other worldly granite rock formations and the views of the Eastern Sierra Mountains, as well as climb on the rocks myself.
Getting there early, we found the trail to the arches, parked the pickup and enjoyed our coffee for a few minutes. A 3 am wake up at Lee Flat in Death Valley National Park was too long to go without coffee. Then we found the trail to the arches with the help of a headlamp and I got setup to shoot the sunrise.
The image below is Lathe Arch looking at Lone Pine Peak and Mt Whitney. The brightest star is the planet Jupiter visible just over the mountains.
As the sun got closer to the horizon, in the east, the mountains, to the west, started to get brighter. A pink glow started in the western sky and mountains.
As the sun came over the horizon the mountains were touched with the sun leaving the foreground in the shadow. The sun had to climb over the Inyo Mountains to the east, which are over 10,000 feet. Lone Pine Peak is almost 13,000 feet high and Mt Whitney is over 14,000 feet high.
I found Mobius Arch next. The view through it was beautiful as the sun lit up Lone Pine Peak.
The sun finally came up enough to light up the foreground, but the clouds were taking over the mountains.
We hiked around the rocks a little more before we drove off to explore other parts of the Alabama Hills. The mosquitoes were voracious after the sun came up so we didn’t do too much more exploring. I love the weathered texture of the rocks here it reminds me of Vedauwoo Rock in Wyoming.
Next stop was Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery for breakfast, expensive, but good. After breakfast we worked our way north on Highway 395 stopping at a few places along the way. The clouds that came over the top of the Sierras, earlier in the morning, were now being pushed along by 35 mph gusts. We had reservations at Lee Vining, near Mono Lake.
At Mono Lake the wind waves were about 2 foot high, but this long exposure flattened them out. You can still see the the foam blowing down the beach. The next morning it was snowing, 24 degrees, and a 15 mph wind. I did not think I had enough clothes, but I give two thumbs up to Sporthill XC wind block pants, they kept me warm. No sun to light up the clouds, not even a hole to peak through.