Living in California so far has been a fantastic journey both personally and for photography. The state has such a wealth of diverse landscapes that I feel like I could spend my entire career here and never truly capture the diversity of the state. This year alone, I've photographed Death Valley, spent nearly every weekend in Big Sur, and most recently the Sierra Nevada range. To top it off, all of these places have been within a 6 hour drive from my doorstep.
Last month, some friends and I decided to take about a 15 mile loop trail through the Desolation Wilderness around the Aloha Lake area. We spent the first day getting to Aloha Lake, but from that point on, we headed down the outlet stream off trail. Our first stop was a little campsite along the banks of American Lake
The image above was captured at about 20 minutes before sunset, well before the bugs came out. At one point before taking my last exposure, I ended up having to wipe mosquitoes off the front of my lens. For most of the trip, they weren't terrible, but the first evening along the banks of the lake, it wasn't exactly comfortable.
This trip was my first experience with hammock camping, but since I was loaning out my tent and I was trying to cut as much weight as possible, I figured I'd try it out. I set up my brand new Hennessy Hammock on the outskirts of camp near one of the outlet streams and got to listen to the sound of rushing water all night. Since we were well above 9,000 feet, the evenings still got fairly cool, although the daytime temperatures were around 80 degrees. To keep warm, I ended up blowing up my Big Agnes Q-Core sleeping pad and slept in my Sierra Designs 2 Season Backcountry Bed. With all of this set up, I was warm and cozy all night. And that hammock...talk about the way to camp. I've never been more comfortable in the backcountry -- and the packed weight is all under 2 lbs.
The two cameras I took along for the trip were my new Leica MP and my Linhof Technorama 617 SIII, my pano camera. Both of these are film cameras, and I shot a total of 5 or 6 rolls of film for the trip, both in 120 and 35mm. The Leica was around my neck for the majority of the time I was hiking, so I was able to capture some of the moments along the hike, as well as the setup of my big camera, camp, and some other sights along the way.
Our second night was spent only a few miles from American Lake, on the banks of another unnamed lake. If there's one thing I took away from the trip, the trees in the Desolation Wilderness are absolutely astonishing. I took the image below of the scene directly behind our camp as a small mountain thunderstorm was passing nearby.
On the hike out, we continued to follow the outlet stream until it came to Horsetail Falls. From the top of the falls, we scrambled, stumbled, and slid down the side of the 750 foot waterfall until we reached the bottom.
All and all, it was a fantastic trip with good friends, good food, and fantastic scenery. With that, I leave you with this parting shot...my favorite from the entire trip. Thanks again for keeping up with my work and if you're interested in purchasing any of the photographs you see here, please feel free to contact me.