For months we had plans to explore some of the magical gems in Arizona en route to en eventual birthday celebration for my mom in Southern California. Our fellow bloggers raved about the beauty of Kofa and Cibola National Wildlife Refuges and the dramatic peaks of Saddle Mountain near Tonopah, Arizona. So we sketched our itinerary, made some loosey goosey plans...and then within days of departing...we changed them. It became a priority to make time to visit a dear friend who just suffered the sudden loss of his wonderful soulmate, our dear friend and a gift to many. He was on his way to Palm Desert so on our way there we decided to detour via Hwy 395.
For 48 years I have left my footprints somewhere within the Eastern Sierras. And to both of us, their magical valleys, peaks and hidden wilderness have become our Camelot, our sanctuary, our temple. A year without a visit is like a drought in a desert, a sky without the sun or an ocean without the surf. So to start this adventure, we chose to make a short trip to Lone Pine, CA and those magical Alabama Hills.
The Eastern Sierras, is where slashing peaks, many over 14,000 feet, rush abruptly upward from the arid expanses of the Owens Valley. Visualize a world of pine forests, lush meadows, ice blue lakes, simmering hot springs and glacier gouged canyons...and then imagine the power of nature to uplift this range 4 million years ago. Now cup your hands together...the bowl created by your palms is a metaphor of the sanctuary offered by the Alabama Hills under the watchful eye of a mighty sentinel aptly named Mount Whitney. And I am still awed that my kid sister hiked that peak up and back in one day....damn there are Warrior Princesses.
As a young boy, John Wayne was one of my idols and many of those old television western heroes my role models. So getting a chance to walk upon the sacred ground where some of these movies and shows were filmed was a bonus. But the foremost reasons for boondocking in the Hills was the majestic beauty, miles of hiking, the solitude, the solitude and the solitude. We had to search for "neighbors", as rigs can easily be hidden within the multitude of rock cul-de-sacs, so we knew that within a 50 acre plot we were alone. Each evening we were hypnotized by a stunning sunset and then the writhing dances of flames from our campfire. We fell asleep at night listening to the wind, distant owls serenading each other from the rocky precipices beyond and the ever soothing sound of our beating hearts.
A big thanks to two of our favorite bloggers, Tim and Denise, of Gone With the Dogs and Paul and Nina, of WheelingIt, for sharing their own experiences and making our research of the area easier. For many, many years we have driven through the Hills en-route to our backpacking trailheads looking forward to the time that we would camp here ourselves. If you hadn't written about your own special experiences boondocking here, our Alabama Hills celebration during this Leap Year may have been a longer time coming.
At Waypoint 36.608100 -118.126730