Alone In The Alabama Hills

Early one morning while camped along the Colorado River just north of Blythe, Arizona, we decided to check the weather forecast.

There it was, a forecasted mid-February heat wave affecting the entire west coast of North America.

We immediately changed our plans and instead of heading south towards Kofa and Yuma, where the temps were to be over 90, we turned the front bumper of the Zephyr northbound and headed for the High Sierra.

Arrival In The Alabama Hills
Arrival In The Alabama Hills

It was Presidents Day weekend and Hwy 395 was packed with skiers going to and from the Mammoth Mt. ski areas, we pushed on.

After an overnight stop in Mojave NP we found ourselves in Lone Pine and in one of our favorite boondocking destinations, the Alabama Hills.

As we entered the hills we realized there were no other campers around.  We felt like lottery winners as we drove past dozens of empty campsites.

Other than a few day use rock climbers we were virtually alone. 

Normal temperatures in the hills this time of year is usally around the 40’s during the day and in the teens and 20’s at night. The forecast predicted the 70’s during the day and the 40’s at night….perfect.

First Camp In The Hills
First Camp In The Hills

When we visited here in November we found the place crawling with RV’s parked in every nook and cranny.  It was hard to find a parking space with dozens of rigs everywhere. 

Sunset Behind Lone Pine Peak
Sunset Behind Lone Pine Peak

With an abundance of unoccupied campsites we eventually picked one with a panoramic view of the Alabama’s and the High Sierra beyond, absolutely spectacular.

Recent storms had deposited a substantial snow pack in the upper elevations and the contrast between the brown Alabama Hills and the glistening white crest of Mt. Whitney was dramatic.

We spent early mornings hiking around the hills with the pups before it got too hot. The heat during midday was impressive for us Alaskans and it forced the pups to lay in the shade.  The cool nights made for great sleeping.

Wandering The Backroads Of The Alabama Hills
Wandering The Backroads Of The Alabama Hills

One afternoon we drove the Cabose futher up the Whitney Portal road to Lone Pine Campground. It is located at the base of the Whitney Portal grade at 6000′.

This section of road is not plowed in the winter and the campground can sometimes dip to near O degrees at night. It was 70+ when we arrived.

We immediately fell in love with this quaint little campgrounds stellar view, the smell of sage and again being the only ones there.  The next day we moved camp up to 6000′ .

Hiking near the campground was glorious especially at sunrise.

Sunrise Just Above Lone Pine Campground
Sunrise Just Above Lone Pine Campground
Early Morning View Of Mt. Whitney
Early Morning View Of Mt. Whitney

Later in the week we traveled to Bishop to meet our Alaskan friends, Brad and Brenda, who were traveling southbound down Hwy 395.

We met them at the J Diamond RV park conveniently situated directly behind the famous Schats Bakery which has been in business since 1912.

While in Bishop we also visited Tammy, another good friend and Alaskan now living and working in Bishop.  We all got together to visit, eat and party for a couple of days.

Owens River
Owens River North Of Bishop

Tammy took us to several fantastic petroglyph sites located around the volcanic table lands north of Bishop.  More on our explorations in the next post.

One afternoon Tammy lent us her jeep and the four of us drove north on 395 where we visited the Owens River, the Hot Creek geothermal area and the June Lake loop. 

Hot Creek Geothermal Zone
Hot Creek Geothermal Zone

Brad, an accomplished fly fisherman, salivated when we visited the Hot Creek fish hatchery.  He witnessed a fisherman along Hot Creek catch a 14″ brown trout and almost flew home to retrieve his fishing gear.

The Big Dogs watch The Trout Closely
The Big Dogs watch The Trout Closely

Later in the week we returned to the Alabama Hills where Brad and Brenda joined us for more boondocking and hiking.

We enjoyed nightly BBQ’s and sat around the fire pit telling stories and reveling in the fact we were not at home shoveling snow in the middle of an Alaskan winter. 

Eventually the weather changed as a strong wind came up in the middle of the night. The forecast said rain and wind for the next couple of days… we decided to move on.

Mt Tom And The Owens River
Mt Tom And The Owens River

We felt very lucky to have visited the eastern Sierra in mid February and enjoy the spring like conditions.  But what really made our visit special was the fact that we were Alone in the Alabama Hills.

The ability to change plans and directions at a moments notice was key to our success, flexibility remains paramount to maintaining the “perfect life”.

Evening Campfire In Front Of The Bowling Pin Rocks
Evening Campfire In Front Of The Bowling Pin Rocks With Brenda And Brad

Don’t miss our new video “Alone In The Alabama Hills”

 

We are all headed south and will keep you posted on our next adventures.

 

24 thoughts on “Alone In The Alabama Hills

  1. We just got home a couple of days ago and this is the first chance I’ve had to see the video on a bigger screen. Fantastic as always! We had such a great time traveling with you, Denise and the big dogs. Lots of special memories for sure! Thanks again for being such great travel partners and mentors and showing us some incredible areas!

    Like

  2. This might be your best video yet! We are having travel withdrawal since returning home. The Alabama’s are on our bucket list for sure. Sorry to hear about the drone’s demise. Maybe you should start a gofundme to try to get another one :-). Glad to hear Brad and Brenda are having fun. Safe travels!

    Like

  3. Oh man – this was such a delight! It was funny – the night I flew in from Fiji, Brad & Brenda were there, waiting to fly out! So glad to see you guys together enjoying life. And that you got to see Tammy too – wonderful! I have been up that side of the Sierra’s, but not to the Alabama hills – beautiful and the video was a delight – your dogs look so happy out exploring! Take care friends! D 🙂

    On Sat, Feb 20, 2016 at 6:37 AM, Gone With The Dogs wrote:

    > gonewiththedogs posted: “Early one morning while camped along the Colorado > River just north of Blythe, Arizona, we decided to check the > weather forecast. There it was, a forecasted mid-February heat wave > affecting the entire west coast of North America. We immediately chan” >

    Like

  4. This is such a beautiful video and love the song too! Your dogs are so gorgeous…our Sydney (australian cattle dog) would love them. She’s got a thing for big dogs! Those Sierra mountains are magic to us. Seems like they have that sense of “home” for you. It is a perfect life indeed! Thanks for sharing such fabulous videos. Imkelina

    Like

    1. Yes even though I have lived in Alaska of the last 40 years I still consider the Sierra’s my home range. Seems like we should get Sydney and the big dogs together some day. Thanks so much for the kind comments.
      Tim

      Like

  5. Thanks again for the beautiful pictures – especially the one of the Sunrise above Lone Pine Camp Ground. I am jealous of the great places you get to visit. I have also been at the Lone Pine Campground and it is great. Jim Kaufmann and I are meeting on 27 Mar in Parker AZ at the La Paz Campground for a couple of days. Then we are going on our normal camping tour with two days at any great camping spot we find and then ride our mountain bikes. Sorry to say though I only have 10 days before I need to be home. I can’t wait to get back into the Roadtrek and go! Have a nice trip, be careful and enjoy your trip – Gert

    Like

  6. For over 48 years I have left my tracks on many a trail in those Eastern Sierras. Prior to retirement, every year we would would explore a new trailhead and backpacked for up to 10 days during the summer. Them mountains run deep within this man’s soul and I plan on leaving my dust atop those peaks and pinnacles when this ride ends. With that, you can understand why we love this post.

    BUT we have yet to boondock in the Hills. We drive through them every year…last year we saw and Paul & Nina boondocking there (Wheelin It), but never had the right rig to explore back into those rocks….until now. Have plans to spend a month between Trona, Alabama Hills and weather permitting up toward Mammoth in the fall…hopefully not as crowded as you experienced in November and maybe in our new rig. Your video rocks once again.

    Like

    1. I totally agree, once you have explored the High Sierra backcountry nothing else comes close. For all my years in the Alaska wilderness the eastern side of the Sierras remains by far and above my favorite places on earth.
      Keep watching for those occasional winter heat waves and be ready to head to the eastern side in short notice and you should have it all to yourself.
      We appreciate you nice comments
      Tim

      Like

    1. Thanks for the nice comments Phil,
      Its been great fun traveling with Brad and Brenda, we are currently on hwy 1 in Big Sur experiencing great weather.
      Hope you guys are doing well and not having to shovel to much snow!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s