Thursday, February 26, 2015

On The Eastside

The locals refer to the area on the east side of the Sierra Nevada as the Eastside. That’s where we are now - Lone Pine, CA along US395, our fav road in the country. Death Valley, the lowest in the country to the east and Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the 48 states just 100 miles to the west.

But first, a few pictures of the Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley. We got up at five to be on the dunes at sunrise.

05dv24 05dv26

We hope to get to the more remote Eureka Dunes before we leave the Eastside.

Someone knocking Death Valley: Here’s an idea: heat a pan full of sand to about 200 degrees, then pour it on your head. Congratulations, you’ve just simulated a visit to Death Valley National Park.

Sunday – February 22 - Dorothy is back to her favorite place - The Alabama Hills. The Hills are piles of jumbo rocks in the most odd shapes set right below the Sierra Nevada. It’s Joshua Tree on steroids with a large helping of jagged top mountains made of granite. None of that pukey conglomerate rock you find in say Death Valley or southern AZ.

This is our fifth time here. We had to bypass it last year when Dorothy fractured her wrist. That’s why we are here this year. Our previous visits were in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

We have been watching the weather here for months and they have had a most moderate winter - little rain and warm temps. It was 69 yesterday. That’s changing today. Cooler temps and much needed snow/rain is forecast. It was 41 at 6:30, warmed to 44 by 9:00, then it snowed and at 1pm it’s down to 36. Big flakes. I am sure that when we next see the mountains they will have a fresh coat of white.

Coming out of Death Valley to here we made a two-day detour to Bishop, just an hour north of Lone Pine to deal with a coupla medical problems. Not Dorothy this time! One happily resolved itself. The other, time will tell. Getting old sure sucks.

Don’t know that we have ever been here on a weekend before. Lots of people driving around. “Our” spot is taken by a group with way too many kids bikes. We found a private spot where we can see when they move out. The parking area for the arch had four cars before dawn. Since the tops of the mountains are cloud covered, no decent pictures can be taken. They stayed two hours. Perhaps they are arch worshippers?  

Monday – February 23 – It snowed all Sunday afternoon. It did not even moisten the ground around us, but close to the base of the mountains, it did stick and the mountains are white on both sides of the valley. 34 degrees in The Hills this morning.

Five inches of snow has made chains required on the Cerro Gordo grade. [Ghost town of the largest silver find in CA. It has been on our bucket list for years] Maybe it will melt with the coming warm weather? Tho, at 8,800 feet I am not optimistic.

We moved to “our spot” this afternoon. Try it out for yourself, we don’t try to keep many places secret. Keeping choice sites secret is not possible anyway. Good map reading skills will ferret them out. Our spot is N36 36.841 W117.07.248. No wifi here, but it’s the best spot for viewing both mountain ranges and is in the heart of The Hills. Today there was a bare minimum of cars in The Hills and no one has been up our spur.

06ah03No accumulation in The Hills, but five miles distant you can see the snow at the mountain’s base. Note: it was gone in 24 hours.

06ah01Dorothy in the mouth of the monster. See her hands up her sleeves? The wind was kicking up to 25.

Tuesday – February 24 – We woke to a crystal clear day. The first we have seen in our several trips here. Here is what saw out our Imax window.

out the imax window tuesday

See the cat ears in the middle. That’s Whitney just to the left. About 10 miles distant and 14,000 feet up. [The valley base 4,400] If you can spot the ledge below the left ear, that’s Lone Pine Lake. We have been that far up.

DG & MG I sure could use you guys to help me with the low angle winter sun. I know we have sun in the south in the winter, but we seldom see it and I don’t know how to use it.

Wednesday – February 25 – Out the Imax window this morning. Too lazy to go outside in the 42 degree temp. Just enjoy our coffee and the sunrise from the lounge. Only in a Lazy Daze.

out the imax window wednesday

We did get moving. We were in the Alabama Hills Cafe at 7:30. We had one of their way too much to eat omelets. We waddled out and drove 12 miles north to Independence with little plan in mind. We found the Eastern Sierra Museum and spent over an hour talking with folks and looking at the exhibits, Next we drove the road up to Onion Valley. There were no onions, but at the end of the road there was snow at 9,200. This is a staging area for pack trips into the mountains. Back down into the valley, we stopped at Romero’s mobile taco stand. Two bucks a piece – not bad. Our lunch was 1/5 the price of of breakfast. Spent the afternoon sunning like a lizard in the warm sun.

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