New Year’s visit to Owens Valley



Perhaps the easiest New Year’s Resolution to keep is my annual (or semi-annual depending on the weather) visit to the Owens Valley to catch the sunrise against the eastern flank. I do this for one basic reason.

The rising sun is at the most extreme angle it’s going to be in relative position to the Sierra Nevada.

The long shadows it casts on the mountains, coupled with the snow and the greater likelihood of clouds is helpful.

My last two New Year’s Day visits came under a cloudless sky and nearly no snow at all on the mountain. This year’s visit, if it was going to happen, needed to have clouds and snow. According to the Accuweather app both would be likely given the temperatures and a changing weather pattern.

I also set out to photograph different locations than I’ve been to in the past. Mount Whitney is always a good subject, but there’s a section of Sierra between Independence and Big Pine that I personally find fascinating.

With the mostly cloudy skies, my morning was spent photographing clouds as they transformed the light on a moment-by-moment basis. In all it was a fruitful morning.

As the morning progressed it appeared that a wave cloud might be setting up from Independence to Lone Pine, but it didn’t materialize by the time I had to get back to the other side of the Sierra.

For those of you with the Eastern Sierra still on your bucket list, might I recommend late December to early January for the reasons I just mentioned. The likelihood of spectacular images is greater in my opinion — and, if time allows, Death Valley National Park is 100 miles east of Lone Pine by car.


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