Return to the Lava Beds National Monument

Return to the Lava Beds National Monument

Three years ago, I drove to the Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California to rephotograph an Eadweard Muybridge landscape. I should not say I drove because I was driven both then and now. Three years ago I left my black hoody way up a hill where we decided to rephotograph. You can read about it all in my blog post from 2016: What happens in that post is essential to understand the following.

Lave Beds National Monument. A quiet out of the way place.

Last week we returned to the Lava Beds to see if perhaps the hoody sweatshirt might still be there. We were convinced that the hoody either could not have survived the elements or someone found it soon after we left. I wondered. I hoped that someone was walking around wearing it everywhere like I did. But who would hike up through those tick infested grasses just to rephotograph an obscure Eadweard Muybridge or to find an old black hoody?

The hill is steeper than it looks. Our day last week was bright and sunny. A slight breeze blew. So different from that hot day almost exactly three years ago. Now as then no one was about and last week there was a chill in the air. We parked below the hill and started to climb up and up and up. We spread out to see if we could find the exact place where I sat on the sweatshirt on that hot day. Bruce ahead of me, searching with his impeccable memory, closed in on the location all buried in grasses. And just like that, there be the sweatshirt! I said to Bruce, “Promise me not to touch anything before I photograph it.” He yelled for me to hurry. I took two iphone photographs, then sat down on the hill and we rephotographed the rephotograph this time with 4 x 5 inch color negative film in the pinhole camera. Those images have been sent off to the lab to be developed so I cannot post them yet. But if they are successful, the Lava Bed saga will continue.

We will keep our fingers crossed that the new images were correctly exposed. The featured image is from the old blog post three years ago of the sweatshirt left on the hill photographed with the iphone; binoculars attached to make the image with a telephoto lens. Am I obsessed? Probably. I love all the levels present in this saga. Some of them are: how something human-made lasts too long a time and does not decay, how this place is so remote and so quiet and so richly beautiful and so ignored, how the landscape has changed since the Modoc hunted there, since Muybridge photographed there and in the last three years. since we were last there. Thanks for reading part two of the saga. Stay tuned for the rephotograph.

PS: Visit Georgetown Records on Vale Street in the heart of Georgetown. They sell quality sweatshirts and lots of vinyl too!

As found among the grasses.
The logo right after removal.
What is happiness?
Grasses, weather or rodents?
Back home