Desert Airstream

White Pocket: Day three of the adventure

Richard Charpentier Airstream Blogs, Canon Cameras, hiking, Notes from Rich, Off Road Adventures, Photographing Arizona, Photography, RLC Design 1 Comment

Ah, so now we’ve come to it.  White Pocket.  The driving force behind this recent trip.

After first seeing images of White Pocket I knew I had to go there.  The “brain rocks,” the strange banding, the completely surreal landscape.  How could anyone who has seen images of White Pocket possibly not want to go there?  I’m willing to bet most readers would love to see the place in person as well.  It’s irresistible!

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One of the first scenes available when entering White Pocket. Presented as shot with a bump to the yellow saturation.

Our day started a little late heading into White Pocket.  We knew that sunrise would beat us.  A long slog off road to be sure, so why make ourselves crazy getting up so early?  Instead we got up late, 5:00 a.m.  🙂  Hey, we were trying the 4:30 thing, and it wasn’t working.  Grab that extra 30 minutes if you can!

The ride into White Pocket took us through Poverty Flats once more.  Once again, the Titan performed admirably.  The unknown was the track from there to White Pocket.  I was warned about the last hill into White Pocket, and that the Titan would most likely not be able to get out once we went in.  Well, I’m here typing away, so clearly I was able to get out.  Looks to me like I’ve got a great vehicle for what I want to do.  Just a few minor tweaks necessary, that’s all.

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The lunar landscape of White Pocket goes off in all directions. More exploration time is needed. Presented as shot, with a slight increase in the yellow once again.

While we didn’t make sunrise we did get in with plenty of time to shoot.  As we rolled in toward White Pocket the giant monolith seemed to be ever present.  We knew we were “there.”  I was excited beyond words!  Seriously, seeing the photos is one thing, seeing the place yourself is another thing altogether.

Parking at a wooden fence we found we weren’t alone.  A Toyota truck was sitting next to a shade tree (the Toyota had less clearance than the Titan).  A lone camper, Mark, had been staying at White Pocket for 3 days.  He looked like a pretty happy guy, and when we spoke to him later in the day we found that he was in fact a happy guy from Minnesota.  I wonder what brought him all the way out there?  Maybe the same thing that drew me in.

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Sand, rock, and amazing formations. Presented as shot with a tweak to yellow once more.

We each grabbed a radio (after the previous morning’s issues we were on board with communication), and we headed in.  A very short very sandy hike, then a patio of rocks.  The first site of White Pocket blew my mind, and around every corner my mind was blown again!

This time in we moved as a group which was good.  Everybody could see everybody.  No deep sand dunes to cross, so our legs got a break.  And the hiking was in fact easy.  Of course, each of us stopped often to look at formations, set up cameras, and get our shots.  Josh went shooting up one formation quickly, and he seemed pretty pleased to work in the area for a while.

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An absolute personal favorite! I'd still like to rework the shot, figure out other angles, wait for the sun to get further into the slot.....Presented exactly as shot.

The further into White Pocket we got the more we found there was to see.  Personally I also realized that this is a place you need to stay at all day, and that wasn’t part of the plan.  I know the magic hours are sunrise and sunset.  But some formations cast large shadows, the tripods cast shadows, etc.  I think there’s a continuous magic hour in the Buttes and White Pocket, and you just have to be willing to wait for the right light.  Next time I will take things slower, and stay at each location for at least a day.

Oh yes, I’m planning a return trip.  Already checking dates……

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For the HDR starved reader, I offer the following. Yes, White Pocket is condusive to HDR. 3 exposure HDR

As the morning progressed the group fanned out across one large open rock formation.  Along the edges were towering formations with brain rocks atop.  Red, orange, yellow colors in the rocks, and then at the tip of each, white “Brain Rocks.”  Seriously, they do look brainy!  You’ve got to see it to believe that it is in fact real!

With the sun rising, shadows changing, and things warming up, we moved to the west in White Pocket.  Tom, Josh, & I headed over to a formation that had been getting my attention.  Ken decided to wander off in the opposite direction, and he radioed to let us know.

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HDR number two in White Pocket!

Each new slot, crevice, and formation brought the cameras out.  Just way too much fun!  But, as with all good things, at some point they come to an end.  Hours into our excursion we decided to start making our way back to the vehicles.  Lunch time was coming, and we were all worn and hungry.  Busy days will do that to you.

While we were exploring I kept keying up the radio to try to get ahold of Ken.  Josh gave it a whirl here and there as well.  No response.  No response.  And still, no response.  We called him for nearly an hour, and continued calling when we reached the vehicles.

After getting back to the Titan and waiting to hear from Ken we all became worried.  Last we saw him he was on the edge of a steep drop off talking about investigating further in.  That was his last radio to us.  And we all remembered how steep the spot was.  Waiting for another 10 minutes we finally decided to head back to Ken’s last location to look for him.  I dumped my lenses in the truck, packed extra water, and broke out the HAM radio in case I needed to call for emergency help.  I also grabbed the Spot Messenger……..

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The final HDR, and for that matter, final image for this post

Just as the 3 of us were ready to head back in Ken’s voice popped up on the radio.  He’d turned his radio off or something.  Didn’t even know we were getting a little concerned.  Glad to say he was safe and sound, and glad I didn’t need to use the SPOT for an emergency search and rescue request!

The ride back was uneventful.  Bouncing around, deep sand, a steep sandy hill, and a Titan that kept going.  No troubles at all.  The whole way back we talked about where we’d shot, the great stuff we’ve seen, and the fact that we were all lucky enough to get out into such gorgeous country……….

I can’t wait to do it again!

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