Owens Valley Sky. Owens Valley, California. August 6, 2005. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell - all rights reserved.
Dramatic thunderstorms begin to build above Owens Valley, flanked by the White Mountains and the eastern Sierra Nevada range.
If there is any good news about starting to run out of space on my hard drive, it might be that it encourages me to begin the process of reviewing my tens of thousands of archived raw image files, and that leads me to look through files that I haven't revisited in a long time - and during this process I find photographs that I had forgotten about. Not only is it worthwhile to rediscover these photographs that ended up buried in the archive, but it is also a chance to recall some of the trips on which the photographs were made.
This photograph is yet another (of many!) that wouldn't have happened at all if it were not for a whole unpredictable series of events and circumstances. I'll make the story as short as I can, but it is still a bit involved. Almost every summer I share a long pack trip with a group of my friends. In 2005 we had come up with a 14-day trip along a good portion of the John Muir Trail between roughly the Ediza Lake area and Bishop Pass, which included one of the very few sections of the JMT that I had not hiked. We started at Agnew Meadow, headed up past Shadow Lake, turned south on the JMT, stopped at Reds Meadow, continued on to the Duck and Purple Lakes area... where I started to feel like I might be coming down with some sort of bug. Discretion being the better part of valor and all that, I decided that the prudent thing was to bail out of the trip and exit to Mammoth Lakes since the idea of getting sick on the fourth day of a 14-day hike with a large group was not appealing.
So I hiked out. Ironically, once I crossed the pass to head down to the Mammoth area, I recovered - but it was now too late to rejoin my group since they would be two days ahead of me on the trail at this point. Since I was back at my car now and feeling just fine I figured that I might as well do something else before heading home, so I decided to drive up into the White Mountains and visit the Bristlecone Pine forest. On the way back down from the Whites I just happened to pull out at this spot where the high desert terrain was extra green around a creek, on an afternoon when monsoon conditions were leading to a buildup of afternoon clouds above the Sierra, the Whites, and Owens Valley between the two ranges.
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