Saturday, February 22, 2014

Eastern Sierra "Snow" Trip

Several months ago, we planned a snow backpacking trip for February, scheduled to coincide with Faye's break from school. It was going to be a long, arduous, cross-country (backcountry) ski trip in the Sierra, covering dozens of miles. Mother nature, however, had other plans. Unseasonably warm weather and a lack of precipitation didn't provide the requisite snow in and around Yosemite. We decided to do a snowshoe trip in the Eastern Sierra instead, planning to trek through the snow at higher elevations. Unfortunately, a storm system blew through north of us, bringing with it 60 MPH wind gusts at the higher elevations. Switching gears again, we decided to camp and do day hiking trips around the area.

We arrived at the Lone Pine Ranger Station and spoke with Tim, the ranger, who gave us a few ideas for day hikes in the area. We then drove up Highway 395 for a quick visit to the Manzanar internment camp.

"In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II."

Learn more about the Manzanar War Relocation Center at the National Park Service website.

We then camped in the Alabama Hills. Many films and television commercials were filmed in the Alabama Hills. I'm sure I will notice the distinctive landscape a lot more, now that I've been there.

"The rounded contours of the Alabamas form a sharp contrast between the glacially chiseled ridges of the Sierra Nevada. This leads the viewer to believe the Alabama's are almost antique in nature. Actually, both geologic features were the result of uplifting that occurred 100 million years ago. The hills have been subject to a type of erosion known as chemical weathering. When the hills were still covered with soil, percolating water rounded the granite blocks and sculpted the outstanding formations you see today."

Find more information about the Alabama Hills at the BLM website.

We also spent some time hiking. On one of the days, we did a quick hike to the Tuttle Creek Ashram.

"The Tuttle Creek Ashram is situated at an altitude of seventy-six hundred feet on a steep ridge between the North and South forks of Tuttle Creek, a stream that flows briskly through a glacially carved canyon in the granitic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Built in the shape of a balanced cross, the ashram is a two-thousand-square-foot structure of natural stone and concrete, with a cement floor, heavy-beam roof, and a large fireplace; the stonework of the ashram blends so well into the ridge that the building is hard to see even from a distance of one-half of a mile away. The history of this remarkable building can be traced back to 1928, when Franklin Merrell-Wolff and his wife Sherifa first visited the area west of Lone Pine, California."

Learn more about the Tuttle Creek Ashram at the Franklin Merrell-Wolff Fellowship website.

On the last day, we stopped by a natural hotsprings, near Bakersfield. This was clearly not the trip we originally envisioned, but I must say it was the best "snow" trip ever! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. After all, a bad day in the Sierra is still a pretty darn good day.

Here are a few more photos from the trip.