Mammoth Trip – June 2011

Recently I got the chance to take a trip up to Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding  mountains for a few days. Armed with my camera, hiking boots and plenty of power bars I spent 4 days in the mountains and surrounding areas, getting up before the sunrise and staying out till sunset taking many many photos, above is a small fraction of them.

DAY 1.
We left LA around 6am on the first day and took the 14 freeway up through Mojave and into the Eastern Sierra mountains. Arriving around lunchtime we checked into our condo in Mammoth lakes and proceeded to drive out and take a look around the immediate area. The unusually high snowfall in the recent weeks before our visit was now starting to thaw at a rapid pace, this created an extremely high amount of water run-off from the mountains which in turn made for some impressive waterfalls and also made some areas more dangerous than normal. As you can see in one of my shots above, mammoth lakes was still mostly frozen when we got there, the locals were all panicking and trying get ready for the busy July 4th weekend which was only days away.

The road up to Devils postpile was also closed, which would mean one of the stop off points on our trip was unreachable. We spent the afternoon taking shots around Mammoth lakes and after dinner we drove the 40 minute drive north to Mono lake to catch the sunset there. The sunset itself was to prove less than inspiring, with no cloud cover and the sun disappearing behind the Sierra mountains to the west of the lake, the skies didn’t inspire me that evening. However, with Mono Lake and all the tufa (rock formations) at hand I got some interesting photos.

DAY 2.
5am we headed out of the door on the second day, drove 15 mins south of where we were staying. Starting at 7500ft we hiked in for a modest 4 or 5 miles, took some great shots of the valley and snow capped mountains, because of the weather certain trails were un-passable because of the water run off. All in all a great and tiring day in the mountains, well worth the hike for the shots I took.

DAY 3.
Started out at roughly for 4am for the drive down to Mono lake to catch the sunrise. Arrived at the lake around 5am and the  proceeded to find our spot for when the sun came up. During the drive down to the lake I was thinking to myself “this is insane getting up this early” but in the minutes before the sun came over the horizon it all made sense. The sunrise hour is a special time, there is no one around, there is no noise, and the light is constantly changing as the sun makes its way up into the sky, Its a totally different experience to all the sunset shots Ive been taking recently, and well worth sacrificing a lie-in for.

After Mono we had breakfast and then drove up to the ghost town of Bodie. Here is where I had the most fun, the abandoned buildings and structures make for some great photo opportunities. armed with my wide angle and my tripod I got some great HDR’s of the vehicles left there and some of the huts and buildings in the park. I have also posted some online for sale which you can purchase here – firesuite @ Redbubble.

DAY 4.
On the last day we took it a little easier and left the apartment about 7am and drove south to McGee Creek, took some more great photos of the lakes and mountains and this time went out with my 70-200mm tele which i regretted later on because of that extra weight to carry. Left Mammoth around lunchtime for the drive back down to Los Angeles.

All in all a great 4 days away in the mountains, the only downside was the clear skies, which I tried to make the best of as I could, big thanks to my co-workers for making this such an awesome photography trip.

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