A weekend in the Eastern Sierra

Last weekend we decided to head up the Owen’s River Valley to visit the Eastern Sierra. Machelle had never visited this side of the mountains, and it had been far too long since I last headed up there. We had a free weekend and the energy to go, so we packed up the xterra, filled the cooler with food and headed on up. We didn’t have any particular plans so we planned on camping wherever we got tired. This turned out to be when we reached Lone Pine so we drove up into the Alabama Hills along movie road and found a place to sleep. When we woke Saturday morning I went out to take some pictures and found we had parked right by some sport climbs. Since we had our gear with us, and the climbs looked easily doable we harnessed up and did some climbing. After climbing for the morning we packed up and by 10 we were on the road. It turns out there was a race of some kind going on in the Hills above Lone Pine, so we drove slowly along the dirt road, passing many runners, most of whom were actually walking. Finding an enticing looking road which headed to the top of the hills we shifted into 4 wheel drive and climbed to the top of the hills. Wildflowers were everywhere and there was a spectacular view up and down the valley. We took in the view, breathed in the fresh air, gloried in the flowers and headed back down the hill.

Our next stop was Mono lake. The light was less then stellar, and we were both tired, but the tufas are always fun. We took a short nap then walked along the lake front. Machelle unfortunately had a bad cold this weekend, so we decided to head back to Bishop and find a hotel. A dinner at Whiskey Creek and a nice shower later and we were ready to sleep.

Sunday morning we woke early, ready to see more of the mountains. After eating we packed up and headed up into the buttermilks. For those who don’t know, these are ancient granite hills located high in a long valley leading up the flank of the Sierras and overlooking Bishop. This is a world renowned bouldering location for a good reason. Golden granite monoliths are strewn everywhere in the hills, and the view is breathtaking. We drove past the Hills and further up the mountain side, stopping to take pictures of the vast fields of wildfloers blooming everywhere. Up near the high point of the rough 4  wheel road we encountered a back country skier whose car was mired down in mud. We helped tow him out of the ruts and decided we had driven far enough. Back down we went. Next on the agenda was some more climbing in the Alabama Hills. The rock was warm and inviting and we had a blast, but the drive back to LA beckoned so we hit the road once more. Driving back south in the daylight, Machelle was actually seeing the route we had driven at night on Friday, so we took our time, and stopped at the volcanic cinder cone and dried waterfalls at fossil falls. The wind was blowing at almost hurricane strength and the sand from the cinder cone was creating a cloud visible for many miles. Although we got a little sandblasted, scrambling down the slick volcanic curves and potholes carved out of the lava flow at fossil falls was great fun.

At last the exploring was over and it was time to head home. The many miles of road rolled away under our car quickly and we reached home soon, safe and tired and happy.

Eastern Sierra Vistas

(don’t forget to head to the full gallery by clicking this link)

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