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Every year, for the past ten years or so, 38-year-old Cory Immele has taken a week off to camp and hike in the Sierra Nevadas – alone. No hotels, no restaurants.

"The first year," he admits, "was kind of scary.”

We’re at Filter Coffee House in North Park, where an exhibit of Immele's photography hangs now.

Despite the jitters he got on his first solo camping trip, Immele kept going back to the Sierras every year. Each time, he would catch sight of the Trona Railroad train graveyard, somewhere off US395 in the Searles Valley. He never stopped until last year, when he finally detoured, grabbed his camera, and photographed the train cars that have been abandoned since the 1980s when a fire shut down the 75 miles of track between Mojave, CA and Lone Pine, CA.

“It was a little creepy,” Immele says. “It’s miles of rusted, dilapidated train cars. But it was beautiful, too. The colors of the trains and the white, puffy clouds.”

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“I swear the cars are haunted,” Immele says.

Then he points to one of the photos, a close-up of two rusty train cars, and explains that just before he took it, he had gotten beneath the cars to take pictures of the rail and the undersides of the cars.

“Something hit my leg,” he says, “and then there was a noise, like a thump. It was a bit too much.”

Too much, maybe, but not so much that he won’t go back again next year.

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Cory Immele

Immele's photos range from $15 (for a 3x4) to $220 for a (30x40) - frames included - and will be on exhibit at Filter North Park until March 15.

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