This winter, we visited the Eastern side of the Sierras. We longed to see the snow covered mountains after so many years of drought. And frankly, I look forward to any chance to gaze upon Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the Sierras and in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet. Waking early, I drove to the Alabama Hills awaiting the glorious winter light the sunrise would bring to Whitney’s face. Mount Whitney towers above the Alabama Hills, but both ranges are made of granite. The Alabama Hills are composed of two types of rock, an orange metamorphosed volcanic rock, and a type of granite that weathers into potato shaped boulders.
The highest peaks were covered in clouds, it was snowing in the mountains, and Whitney was not visible. I stomped my feet and blew on my fingers to stay warm in the cold, hoping with daylight Whitney would be visible. The sun rose, the clouds , like curtains, drew back and Mount Whitney whispered hello. Countless times, I have come to this place, to stare at this mountain, but I can never get enough. I always return. Joyous, I pondered the magic of what light can do, as Robert Hass wrote in the introduction to his book of the same name “the source of that authority is mysterious to me…but it is that thing in their images [the photography of Ansel and Robert Adams] that, when you look at them, compels you to keep looking.”