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The other side of Bishop

I've never counted the times I've been to Bishop in the past to boulder, but there are countless. It always felt like a mini vacation. Two days of rock climbing in Bishop in the boss's time, isn't it great? And when I stood in the sun at LAX in front of the terminal waiting for the Alamo shuttle bus to pick up the rental car, I felt like a king.

But yes, eight years without climbing had also meant that I had not been to 'The Eastside' (of the Sierra Nevada) all that time. Time for one last time to reminisce and complete the circle, so to speak. This time not to climb, but to take pictures. I knew from previous trips that the aspen trees turn a beautiful yellow color in the fall. I hoped that my timing in the third week of October would work out well.

The car ride from Los Angeles to Bishop was quite a tough delivery. The infamous '405' was busy, very busy and it was absolutely impossible to get out of the city at all. But luckily once outside the city it went well. In Mojave I saw a few more familiar blue planes in the graveyard and then I went straight to Bishop. On the way I passed some dilapidated buildings on a dried-up lake where salt used to be extracted. The beautiful light of the blue hour begged to put the car aside and take some pictures.

The nine hour time difference made for a slightly too short night, but at least I was on the road on time the next morning. Highway 168 runs southwest from Bishop towards the Sierra Nevada. But where I used to always turn right halfway towards The Buttermilks, I now drove straight ahead on the way to Lake Sabrina. When I got there, it was still dark, so I had no choice but to wait in the car for a while.

After half an hour it became somewhat light and so it was time to step out into the cold morning. My initial plan was to go up the trail on the east side of the lake, but from the small dam I had trouble finding the trailhead. Because it was getting lighter and I was afraid of missing the best conditions, I decided to walk up the path on the west side of the lake.

When the sun was high enough to illuminate the mountain peaks across the lake, I took out my camera and tripod. It looked great, but I soon discovered that the conditions only got better as the sun rose, revealing more and more of the far side of the lake. Wow...what colours! It looked like my timing was indeed not wrong.

Not only was a tripod absolutely necessary in this early morning light. But moreover, the difference in light intensity between the sunlit opposite side and the shaded side where I was standing was so great that I could not avoid taking photos with a so-called 'exposure bracket'. If you don't know exactly what that is, or if you want to know more about it, you will find a perfect explanation here.

Below are some photos I took at the edge of Sabrina Lake using this technique.

It was fantastic. No one to hear or see and overwhelming nature on all sides. I initially planned to walk quite a bit further, but when at one point I saw some animal droppings in the middle of the path, I decided to turn around. I didn't want to risk running into a mountain lion or black bear in the worst case scenario.

My trip to Bishop was already a success, but there was more to come. The road ends at the lake, but before that there are two side roads that I wanted to explore. And there too there was no escaping an absolute splendor of colour. The bright yellow amid the gray-brown hills looked surreal.

After taking a ton of photos, it was time to head back to Bishop. Of course, according to 'tradition' I had to visit Eastside Sports, not to mention Schat's bakkerÿ. A nice ending to a great trip down memory lane...!


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