I did a scouting trip to the Alabama Hills a few weeks back and challenged myself to stay away from the iconic images of Mt. Whitney and the Sierras viewed through the three or four arches that seem get all the attention from photographers. My resolve was strengthened when I saw all of the people and vehicles at the parking locations for the popular spots. Staying away from the iconic shots and finding a fresh and interesting point of view is tough, very tough, but more and more lately I just don't feel like photographing the things that everyone and their mother and sister and brother photograph and I'd rather come home with nothing than something that's already been done a million times.
While all the other photographers crowded around to shoot the same few arches that everyone always shoots, I set off to find my own point of view. I went exploring with a hand-drawn map in hand that I was fortunate to track down while trip planning which showed 100+ arches and other points of interest, and this little guy helped show me the way.
He's an inuksuk, more specifically an inunnguaq, a stone cairn in the shape of a man. They were used by the Inuit to communicate, marking the locations of trails, caches of food or important hunting grounds. They are among the oldest and most important objects placed by humans upon the vast Arctic landscape and have become a familiar symbol of the Inuit and of their homeland. You may recognize it as the logo of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
I think he was a bit lost in the desert terrain of the Alabama Hills, perhaps on his way to more familiar terrain of the High Sierras, but he sure brought a smile to this traveler's face.