Graveyards, Ghost Towns, and a Mountain or Two

For the first time that didn’t involve me being sick, I didn’t attend Thanksgiving with my family. Instead I headed out to the high desert east of the Sierra mountains.  As is typical with my trips, I had absolutely perfect weather for most of the trip: clear skies, no wind, and relatively warm days. Normally I consider this my curse, but since I wanted to do star photography it was an ok problem to have. It just means that my daytime and sunset opportunities were more limited.

Driving up on Thanksgiving day, the first stop I made was to explore near Lone Pine for a cattle graveyard that I had previously heard about. You know, normal holiday stuff.  I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it ended up being significantly different than whatever I was expecting.

Finding it is a little difficult as it’s fairly well hidden, but the scenery is incredible. Because it’s so remote, however, it’s also eerily quiet.

 

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine

“Graveyard” really isn’t the right word, as there were no graves. Only the remains of dumped corpses, including whole skeletons of cows and horses.  In some places there were only large pieces of leather laying around.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine Cattle Livestock Graveyard

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine Cattle Livestock Graveyard

There were also more recent additions. This one kind of freaked me out to be honest. If you’re squeamish, don’t click the photo below. Otherwise, the link takes you to the uncensored shot. The view from the other side was way worse.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine Cattle Livestock Graveyard

 

I did a few other things in town and then headed out to the Alabama Hills fairly early in the day. By sunset almost all of the clouds were gone and it got cooooooooold. The park itself is really neat, particularly if you like climbing around on stuff or are into bouldering/rock climbing. Loads of movies have been shot here too, so if you’re a movie buff, you can get a movie map and see the related sights.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills

This was the extent of my sunset. At least I had the Mobius arch to myself.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills Mobius Arch

The stars were incredible, as was the Milky Way. Unfortunately, my 7d and its crop sensor aren’t the best tools for the job, so the detail isn’t quite as good as if I had a full-frame camera. If I buy one next year I’ll be sure to come back (if you have $3,000 you want to give me, I’d be happy to mow your lawn like 5 times).

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills Milky Way Star Photography

Because the weather was so nice, I was able to drive up the next day to the Bodie ghost town. The town is normally closed through the winter because of snow (it’s above 8,000-foot elevation), but was still open this year.

Bodie is a relatively recent boom town, and through the actions of the State and others has been fairly well preserved in the condition its former residents left it in.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Abandoned Truck

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Abandoned Truck detail

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Interior of a house

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Interior of a house

I wasn’t able to get into this building, which I’m assuming is the Undertaker’s residence. All of the coffins appeared to be for children.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Undertaker, Mortuary, Coffins

Another room in the building. Note the Haunted Mansion style portrait on the wall. Both of these coffins also appeared to be child-sized.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Undertaker, Mortuary, Coffins

Speaking of child-sized coffins, the cemetery had a relatively large number of kids in it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a time or place where worrying about losing your child is a normal affair.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Child's Grave, Cemetery

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Exterior of a Building

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Abandoned Safe

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Old Gas Station

Another building that they don’t want you in. Note the still working light bulb above the coffee machine.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Interior of a Store, Working Light Bulb, Coffee Machine

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Medications

There are two roads to Bodie. One comes from the 395 to the west of the town, and one is south of the town. If you ever visit, I recommend heading in from the west, but coming out from the south. The view of Mono lake from the southern route is amazing.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  View of Mono Lake

The lack of clouds meant a boring sunset that didn’t help dress up the tufa columns.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake

This tufa is part of an island of sorts, and is probably 20 feet tall.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake Tufa

The Milky Way and a few other stars from Mono Lake. Man, I wish I had that full frame camera. (I wonder if my family would be hurt if I didn’t get them any Christmas presents.)

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake Milky Way and Stars

The next day I headed back down towards Bishop and Lone Pine, stopping at a few places along the way.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Cattle & Horses Grazing Near Bishop

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Landscape of a Tree Near Bishop

This is a shot at Keeler, which is a town east of the Owens dry lake.  A former boom town, it fell on bad times when the nearby mines gave out. It fell on further hard times when Los Angeles diverted the river that fed Owens lake and killed it. The town is in mostly bad shape but is not really a ghost town (since a number of people still live there), even though lots of the former mining equipment is still present. This very tongue-in-cheek sign reads:

“Keeler Beach – Camps for Rent”

“This beautiful setting provided by LA Water Dept.”

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Keeler surfboard

I finished the day off back at the Alabama Hills. Lots of rocks have arches in them, including this one that sort of looked like the Predator or an angry ant.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography |  Alabama Hills Double Arch Rock

Again, no clouds, but I played with the sun and various arches near sunset to try and get something interesting.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Alabama Hills Arch Sunset

And to wrap up, here’s the same formation at night.  While it was a little intimidating being out there by myself, it was definitely worth it. The view was amazing.

 Reinig Travel Photography | Alabama Hills Arch Milky Way & Star Photos

2 Responses to Graveyards, Ghost Towns, and a Mountain or Two

  1. Celeste Gilstrap December 4, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Soo lovely Jake…I feel like im there when I look at these…I am due for a road trip after seeing these…Thank you for sharing…:)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Finding My (Milky) Way Along 395 | JAKE REINIG - July 12, 2014

    […] because I’m dumb.) With a new car to drive and my newish camera in hand, a small group of us retraced my route up 395 to take pictures of our galactic neighborhood. Our first stop was the Trona Pinnacles, gigantic […]

Leave a Reply


− five = 1