We arrive late to Lone Pine Campground. It’s now about midnight. Stepping out of the car, we hear the creek rippling down its drainage on the other side of our campsite. Beyond that stretches a dark ridge, and far beyond that, the summer Milky Way is already vertical. It looks like rising smoke.
The next morning, we see the sun gradually lighting the eastern Sierra Nevada range. Mt. Whitney glows a pale orange.
After breakfast, we head down the mountain and take the right fork up to the next alpine creek. Briefly, I get notifications on my phone: the Watkinses had gone through town and are likely waiting for us at Horseshoe Meadow. I circle several times through the parking lots before spotting them. We’re so happy to meet up.
Barry takes us down the trail, and we stop at an expansive meadow. There’s a meandering creek. Here, golden trout are abundant, and Daphney joins us in the sport.
In the afternoon, we drive across the Owens Valley to reach the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. We had hoped to stay at Grandview, but all campsites have been taken. We decide to explore the Schulman Grove. Barry and Aimae sets off on the Discovery Trail while we head back down to scout for a campsite. Off the side of the road, we find a large flat primitive area, set up camp, and text Barry. Soon, they join us as well. Over dinner, Aimae tells me of a beautiful tree that they had stumbled upon.
It was then that Barry and I made the last-minute decision to head up after dark. As we get closer to the tree, we see other photographers. We each take turns setting up and shooting pictures of this tree with the Milky Way in the background. It would turn out to be one of my favorite shots, and we would have missed it had it not been for Aimae sharing this opportunity.