I left Lee Vining this morning at 04:45 and walked into the south tufa area at Mono Lake about 40 minutes before sunrise. The sky was clear and full of stars. The breeze was slight. As the light came up I began shooting what I hope will translate into a decent set of images when processed. About 30 minutes into my shooting another photographer showed up and we greeted each other and then did the dance of trying to compose images without interfering with the other person’s view. It’s not exactly a small place but it seems that he was frequently near by or in my frame. I’m sure I was for him as well so it evens out I suppose. I’ll post some images later tonight.
I left Mono Lake and headed south to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills. My goal today was to just get a feel for the place so I could shoot earlier in the day tomorrow. My initial target was Mobeus Arch. Galen Rowell published a photo of this arch years ago and it was in one of his books that I first saw Mt. Whitney framed within the arch. Since Galen shot his image there have been way too many people who have gone to replicate the image. I’m just one more. But you see, Galen was a huge influence on my desire to become proficient making landscape images. I’ve read many of his books and find a great deal of inspiration in his work. I’m not going to get the shots in foreign countries like he did. I won’t be hanging off the side of Half Dome or K2 like Galen did. But the Mobeus Arch… hey, I can do that. I researched the site and drove into the Alabama Hills. I know the place is famous and has been the setting for numerous films but I was not prepared for the spaghetti network of roads swarming the landscape. Managed by the BLM the areas off Movie Flat Road are a patchwork of roads leading off to who knows where. Lots of vehicles in the distance on many of the roads. Hikers? Folks searching out arches? People 4 wheeling? Anyway, it was a surprise to me.
Another surprise was to see the number of “arches in the making”. Clearly, many of the boulders have been sculpted into incomplete arches. Time will have its way with the granite boulders and soon there will be new peep holes for people to peer through.
I parked at the area recommended by an Google search on “Mobius Arch” and located the trail. It’s a short walk into the Arch and the trail is easy to follow. Of the hundreds of arches in the area, this one draws a crowd. I approached the arch and began to imagine what it would have been like to be with Galen when he first saw the feature. He probably ran into the area and climbed several of the boulders on the way. I sauntered. I put myself in the position to replicate Galen’s shot and just paused. For the moment the view was mine and no one else could share. I sat there and thought about how Galen’s work has pushed me forward and continues to set a standard of excellence that few achieve. I said a quiet “thanks” and raised my camera. Certainly not an original but if it’s good enough for Galen it’s sure good enough for me. Thanks Galen. Rest in peace.