We heard about Mobius Arch last year. The photos looked good, the arch had a nice shape, and it was less than an hour from Big Pine, where we stay. We put it on our bucket list for the next visit, which happens to be now. This is a new area for us, called the Alabama Hills, so a scouting trip was in order. We found the arch fairly easily but quickly realized that only two people can get “the shot”. If we are going to do a sunrise photo shoot, we need to get there very early, before anyone else. With sunrise before 6:00am it was going to be an early morning.
We had another issue increasing the difficulty of the situation. Kathryn has a broken pinky toe (you can ask her what or who she kicked). Our ability to hike fast is all but gone. If we get too the trailhead at the same time as another photographer, we will never beat them. Let me rephrase, she will never beat them but I could. I wouldn’t dare. We’ll have to set the alarm even earlier than normal. Even so, will it be early enough?
- Started at 3:45 with a rude wakeup call and some weak coffee. No time for breakfast, we got to go. We begin the 50 minute drive in total darkness.
- On the drive, her pinky toe is iced and elevated. This should give us the best opportunity for speed. A numb pinky toe is a happy pinky toe, so I’ve heard.
- Had to stop to use the facilities. What would be open at 4:30? We pass one closed gas station after another. Finally came across one that is open. But could not use them without a purchase, ahem, extortion. Time for a fill-up, I suppose.
- Arrived at the trailhead to find two cars already there. Argh, there are only two spots and they are probably occupied. We are doomed. We get up so early, risk our health with a bathroom stop (thank you, Covid), only to find we are too late.
- Hiked the 1/2 mile in the twilight to Mobius Arch, up and down among rock formations. We turn the final corner expecting to find two photographers hogging “our” spot.
- We are amazed. No one else is there, we have the place to ourselves. Where could they possibly be? We hear another car in the distance. It’s time to claim our spots! Quickly I scramble up a boulder or two to claim the only two spots. Kathryn follows along a moment later. Good thing I am here for her, at least that is my opinion.
We are set up, ready for the sun to rise. Now there is another problem, completely clear skies. What do we do with boring skies? We exclude most of the sky from our composition. Luckily blue hour is always beautiful with its even lighting and blueish purple hues. We are off to the races. Shooting is fun and over too quick.
It was quite a race that we won, worth all the angst. Remember, it’s all about the light!