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I've been wanting to get this shot since I first stepped foot on this lookout last fall. Realizing that this view faced south/southwest meant that the milky way would indeed line up perfectly with this valley.
Unfortunately I didn't see a way to get it because I didn't see a way to get here at night. Camping in this area is not allowed and for some reason I was under the impression that last year I saw signs posted that the trail closed at sunset. I searched online this year and couldn't find anything posted for that restriction so I took the chance and drove up late in the day to start the hike. When I arrived at the trail head I confirmed that no such restriction existed and since I planned on hiking back down in the dark instead of camping, I was good on the camping restriction.
I had a late start to the day and only started to hike the 10 mile loop around 3:30 pm. I knew I wanted to catch sunset from this spot around 7:30 pm but also took a detour to photograph a waterfall called Beaver Meadow Falls. This little detour took me far longer than expected to reach which forced me to practically run up the mountain with my 60 liter pack in order to make it on time. The sun just slipped behind the Gothics when I arrived at this spot so I was unable to grab a sunburst. Fortunately, I had another 20 minutes until the sun fully set, so I set my stuff up and watched as the sun and clouds played a game with light on the eastern mountains of the valley. Just before the sun fully set, I took a foreground image that I would use with the stack later.
I was excited to try out my MSM star tracker for the first time but unfortunately I need and extra base plate which I didn't know i needed so I wasn't able to use it. When the stars came out I took a series of 3 images of the stars along with a dark image with the lens cap on. These 4 images were stacked in post to reduce noise and combined with the dusk foreground detail shot to produce this image.