Mt. Ritter | Thousand Island Lake
Thousand Island Lake has been one of my favorite lakes in the Eastern Sierra since my first backpacking trip there five years ago. I had hiked and backpacked it several times before, but never ventured farther into the basin nor attempted to create a timelapse of the lake and the peaks. So, I was quite stoked about this particular photography trip, and, most of all, I really wanted to immerse myself in the wilderness while capturing the beauty that this part of the Eastern Sierra had to offer.
My original plan was to enter via Rush Creek and make a loop around Gem Lake, Waugh, Thousand Island Lake and Garnet Lake. But while going up, first, there were several snow packs that were melting fast and slowed me down quite a bit. On top of that, my heavy camera gear (two full frame cameras, two tripods, five lenses, two solar panels, etc.) weighed me down. So, I changed the plan and decided to focus on one subject - Mt. Ritter, Banner Peak and Thousand Island Lake. To get different angles and perspectives, I spent days and nights around the lake (only two nights are permitted at the lake) but also at Island Pass, from which I still cherished a fantastic view of the peak and the lake, and somewhere in between.
In spite of constant gales of winds, I was lucky enough to have the calm water for the first two nights, resulting in mesmerizing visuals of the heavenly body and its reflections at night. I had specifically planned this trip with the new moon in mind, but the astonishing images of the Milky Way rising over the lake and the peaks were beyond what I had hoped for.
The snow clad peaks were quite pleasing to my eye. The sky was lacking clouds most of the time on my trip, but there were some clumps of clouds that lingered for some time in one afternoon, and I didn’t pass it up. For the last two nights the galaxy rose over the lake and peaks in the clear night skies as expected, but the winds stirred the water so much, and it was a good reminder that I was really lucky on the first two nights.
On my way in via Rush Creek Trailhead earlier, I came across the spectacular view of Carson Peak and Rush Creek Falls, so I promised to myself that I would capture the Milky Way rising over the peak and the waterfalls as well as sunrise when I was done with the trip. And that is exactly what I did. In order to capture both but to avoid hiking up and down over a mile (1.25 miles) in the dark, I brought my sleeping bag and slept there. And it was worth every step that I took.
Thousand Island Lake, CA
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H Peter Ji © 2018