White Pocket was considered to be a frontier for landscape photographer. But thanks to the popular web site of Steffen Synnatschke and the famous books of Laurent Martres, “Photographing the Southwest”, the images of White Pocket have appeared more and more often. Nevertheless, its beauty has captured my imagination for a few years. I have done more reading and preparation for this trip than any other photography trip to the west. Two professional photographers, Fred Drury and Charly Moore, offered me great insights in reaching this remote location.
I chose end of April to go to White Pocket because I figured the temperature is going to be more tolerable, at night and under mid-day sun. That was proven to be a wise decision. I was watching the forecast for Page, Arizona for some time prior to the trip. But when we arrived there, I realized the temperature at White Pocket was a few degrees cooler than that in Page due to the difference in altitude. During our five days in South Coyote Buttes/White Pocket area, we experienced 30 degree midnight chill and 88 degree day time high.
Our journey started in Las Vegas. Following Charly’s advice, we picked up a rental Jeep Wrangler from Hertz. It costs me more than twice as much as other SUV’s. While it struggles on the highway, its road capability was invaluable. There are many Wal-Mart stores along the way for us to stock up the supplies. Here is a list of essentials we carried in addition to our usual camping gears:
- GPS for vehicle and handheld hiking GPS
- Compass – you just can’t beat the reliability of old fashion compass.
- Abundant supply of batteries
- Shovel – it is a must have, to dig your car out of deep sand and to dig your own toilet.
- Old carpet runners – to put under wheels to get out of deep sand.
- Battery powered air pump – to inflate tires.
- Water – 2 gallons per person per day + 2 extra gallon just in case.
- Food – as much as I thought we can eat + 1 extra day of food just in case.
It was 5:00pm by the time we arrived at South Coyote Butte. There is another two and half hours of off road driving to White Pocket. We decided to camp nearby. I woke up shortly after 3:00am. The night in desert was exceedingly chilly. I put on all my clothing and still couldn’t stop shivering. There was a good two hours before sunrise, so I decided to take a picture of star trails. After a couple of test shots at high iso, I set my timer at 5 minutes per picture and let it run its course. An hour later, the sky was lightened up at east. It was time to stop. It was a make or break shot.