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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.