After spending a couple of days in Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, I was looking for something interesting in the area of Owens Valley for the last day and a half. I ended up getting a taste of Alamaba Hills, enjoying lenticular clouds the eastern Sierra is famous for, reminiscing in Laws Railroad Museum, and getting a workout on a trail up North Fork of Big Pine Creek.
Owens Valley is a place of great views, be it the surrounding mountains towering 10,000 ft above it, or lenticular clouds whipped up by winds as they cross the Sierra on the west side of the valley. Last but not least, the valley floor itself is home to many scenic spots, including beautiful cottonwood trees.
I drove by Alabama Hills, located just outside of Lone Pine on both sides of the road to Whitney Portal, more than once, most recently on my trip up Mt. Whitney, but never took time to stop and explore. The time of day - a late afternoon - and the weather - heavy clouds, snow above the Sierra, and blastng westerly gusts of wind - were not exactly inviting to explore. So I just walked the Mobius Arch Loop a couple of times, taking in the rock formations and the lenticular clouds above.
|Painted rock||Whitney Portal Road||Mobius Arch in BW|
|Tourists for scale|
|Mazda on vacation||Heart in the desert|
|Sunset Mobius Arch|
Laws Railroad Museum features a collection that goes way beyond just railroad artifacts that my children used to be fond of years ago during my first two visits. The museum gives a glimpse of what life was like in the years after the area was settled, and the admission fee is voluntary.
I spent the night before in a Bishop motel looking for an easy way to get to a higher terrain in the Sierra in order to play in the snow a bit. There are not many access points in summer, and still fewer in winter, or rather most of them are closed below the trailheads such as the Rock Creek Area, or Lake Sabrina. One area drew my attention because it was mentioned to me by a hiker I met last year on my hike to Ruby Lake as their next destination. Big Pine Road was open and after visiting Laws Railroad Museum, it came to a choice between starting driving home and seeing what is up there, I did not hesitate long. When I saw the snow at the end of the road at the Big Pine Trailhead, I could not resist and headed up. The higher mountains were shrouded in the clouds and snow, and as I made my way up the trail along the North Fork of Big Pine Creek, the snow showers grew thicker. I turned around two hours later, at 9,900 ft having acended some 2,100 ft, and just short of First Lake when it became clear I could not see anything upon reaching the lake and could have a hard time finding the trail back in the accummulating snow. Next time...
|Big Pine Road||Big Pine Creek||Thumb||South Fork valley||South Fork valley||Lone pine tree|
|John Muir Wilderness||Trail up||Temple Crag||Snow|
|Stream windows||Brothers||Look back up||Lone pine tree||Aliens love snow|