Two nights ago,my buddy Kurt Randall and I took off from North Lake Tahoe headed towards the world famous Emerald Bay. Our mission: photograph sunset, the night sky, and sunrise the next morning. Obviously this was an overnight adventure. Hiking to a location to sleep overnight is something I have yet to do and I was so excited to get out there and finally do it.
We packed our camera equipment, water, beer, warmer clothes, a hammock, and a sleeping bag. All together my pack probably weighed close to 50 pounds. We walked toward Eagle Falls and up to Eagle Lake behind Emerald Bay where we veered off and began our trek up the granite face that lay in front of us. We had the idea to get as high up as possible to camp out for the night. After about an hour and forty-five minutes we made it to a nice location with trees and a steep rock drop that allowed for a nice unobstructed view of the bay. The hike up was treacherous in some spots and definitely had us wondering if we should turn back now or not.
Once we reached our camp spot we settled in and grabbed out sunset photo gear and actually walked farther up the mountain about another twenty minutes where we got close to the peak, still far away but it seemed close now. The sun was setting and we popped off a few shots in different locations capturing the colors of the sun as the shadow from the mountains we were on ran up the adjacent side of Lake Tahoe. About 9:10 we walked in the late evening light back to camp where we cracked a few beers, chatted and watched the rest of the show. We hung out until the stars began to appear, about a hour later.
We saw that in the area we were there was almost no light pollution except what South Shore, Tahoe was producing. The stars started to show up in the photographs. I started shooting at ISO 1600, F2.8, 17mm, for about thirty seconds. The Milky Way began to present itself as it was there the entire time but not dark enough to really pop yet. A few trees, rocks, and bushes gave a nice foreground and an opportunity to light paint during our exposures. I brought along my remote shutter control and that allowed us to set the camera to Bulb and keep the shutter open for longer than thirty seconds. We started to experiment with longer and longer shutter speeds which gave some really neat effects to the dark sky. The moon had set early so we were in luck as the least amount of light was around. The night moved along and at about 2:45am we turned in to sleep for a few hours before the sun rose. A little windy and a bit chilly but we made it without any serious emergency. Luckily I overpacked in the warm clothes department.
I slept poorly, but did sleep a bit. I awoke sharply thinking I overslept but peaked outside my hammock and noticed the faint coloring on the horizon like the sun was close to breaching the mountain tops. I quickly hopped out and grabbed my camera still in that “early morning just jumped out of bed” stuper. I got into position and set up the tripod with a desirable image in mind. The sky lit up and carried amazing colors with it. As soon as the sun began to peak I had already fixated the camera ready for a video of the rising sun. Moving around I captured a few more angles and then looked around at the morning light hitting the other scenes around me. 6:30am rolled around and the light was still amazing but we packed all of our things and started our journey down. Taking in where we were and what we did one last time before departing back towards the car park along the road at the bottom.
Our walk down was more of a journey in itself as we tried a new route and got stuck and forced back up granite rocks until we found the way we had came before. No use getting stuck somewhere we didn’t know. Back on the trail we moseyed our way down the granite face, over a scattered rock bed, through a dried up creek bed, back to Eagle Lake and down the trail to the parking lot. What an adventure it was! A little bushwhacking, climbing and ultimately finding. This was one to remember. Excited for more summer adventures like this one. Enjoy the gallery of images below and stay tuned for more.
Here is the video sped up of the sun peaking out from behind the east side of Lake Tahoe.