Rough Fire From Alabama Hills
The Rough Fire has been burning for over a month with seemingly no end in sight. Despite this, I was able to enjoy a beautiful day of day-hiking in the Sierras. As the afternoon approached, I left the Horseshoe Meadows area and headed to Alabama Hills for sunset.
In the afternoon, the winds dramatically shifted, and what was a nice clear day turned into a gloomy, smoky, surreal experience. The Rough Fire, which is still burning out of control, was now sending smoke to the East over the Sierras.
What I photographed were unique, uncomfortably beautiful, and stunning. Moebius Arch, the signature arch of Alabama Hills, had a number of people present since it was a weekend. While a lot of people were shooting looking West as people traditionally do, I wanted the smoke to be part of the subject.
I went around to the “back” of the arch, with nobody in view, and captured the arch with the smoke to the North. It was incredible to think how much forest was being lost from all of that smoke.
As I was leaving, I was on Whitney Portal Road and looking in the rearview mirror, I stopped immediately and turned around. The smoke was now being refracted by the sunset and the image was jaw-dropping. From Lone Pine Peak to the needles to Mt. Whitney, the smoke dominated the last light.
I love the photographs, and I am a little uncomfortable with how much I like them. This is a very serious fire, and we are losing an incredible amount of beautiful forest in the Sierras. But these moments are unique, and I am glad I captured this moment.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the images!
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.