Sunrise over Mono Lake

Posted on 17 March, 2023 by Dan Vonk


At about 5:30, half-asleep and emerging from a tent smelling of maple-bacon, I caught this view.
Sunrise over Mono Lake

The best photo I have taken has to be the one shown above, which I took in September 2019. I was travelling with a friend from San Francisco, down to L.A. and then back up again. We had rented a Nissan pick-up truck, or really I should, as a self-respecting Aussie, say Ute, which was of course a novelty for us compared to the “euro shitboxes” one mostly sees back at home. We were around the Yosemite / Death Valley area and had found a lay-by off a forest road which was in an isolated spot, perched up on the gentle gradient leading down to Mono Lake in the distance.

We spent the evening there setting up the tent and cooking steaks, which we managed to cover in sand from moving placing plates around on the ground. A camping table would have been a good bet. To fight the wind, we thought it would be a good idea to bring the cooking stove into the tent and place it near the door, with it unzipped and open. However, to cook, we had bought some cheap maple-flavoured bacon, which turned out not only to be disgustingly sweet but also had the side-effect of stinking up the tent with the smell of bacon for the entire night.

So it was in these circumstances that we slept. I’m a light-sleeper and don’t much like camping anyway (the humid air, the feeling of your ribcage scraping the hard floor, etc.), so predictably, I was up at the crack of dawn. I was initially reticent to open the tent and step into the outside world: it was cold after all and perhaps I could get back to sleep… However, I am glad that I did because I was greeted with an amazing view of the sun starting to rise behind the mountains in the background. From complete darkness, imperial violet started to fill the sky, which was then followed by amazing hues of red as the sun took its place in the horizon. I knew this was to be captured and treasured so I fumbled back into the tent, searched for my camera and then took this photo.