High Lonesome

I grew up in Los Angeles but was utterly captivated by, and fell in love with, the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains as a child. My family would vacation there for one glorious week every year and I would count the days until it would arrive every summer. I was exhilarated when the day to leave for the mountains would finally arrive and with it the long trek up through the Mojave Desert. I would be filled with wonder and excitement as we drove up Hwy. 395 into the high country. Christmas paled in comparison. The week spent in the Sierra Nevadas was heaven on earth but it disappeared all too quickly leaving me back at home aching to be there again. My parents gave me a Brownie Box camera as a pre-teen, so I got the bright idea to photograph the Sierras so I could “bottle it” and bring some of the experience home with me. We would stay at Hot Creek Ranch, just south of Mammoth. It was a fly fishing paradise with several miles of spring fed meadow trout stream and some humble old cabins. Every afternoon the wind would gust up and blow through the meadow for several hours. This would signal a return to the cabins by the fisherman for shelter, lunch, whisky, naps, telling fish yarns, fly tying, repairing tackle, reading, playing checkers or whatever would pass the time until the wind died down enough to return to the stream for the late afternoon and evening fishing. My two most vivid and cherished memories of this time was the wonderfully permeating fragrance of the sage and the howling of the wind through the rickety old cabin’s windows and doors. It was then I came to love this wind. I would often think about pioneer settlers and local Indians who would have been tempered by this same wind and wonder what life was like for them. This wind had the most haunting and lonesome timeless quality and it was this relentless wind that gave me a sense of connectedness and continuity with my Sierra forefathers. I vowed that as an adult I would immerse my family in this tradition and spend a substantial amount of time there every year. I made good on my promise. My wife and I were married on the foot bridge over Hot Creek and we brought our children there every year. They too have inherited a love of the Sierras. As the years have passed we have been blessed with a second home in nearby Mammoth Lakes but very little has changed. I still ache to be there and count the days in between visits. I still have the same sense of exhilaration when the key turns in the ignition for the drive up through the Mojave. The same sense of wonder overcomes me as we drive up Hwy. 395 and the same lonesome wind howls through the meadows every afternoon. I have a better camera now but I’m still photographing for the same reason - looking to “bottle it” and bring some of the Sierras back with me. As you experience my photographs I hope that you will feel the sense of excitement, exhilaration, mystery and wonderment that I still have about this amazing place. If I have succeeded you too may recognize the fragrance of sage and be transported to a place without time by that relentless lonesome wind.