All the world lies warm in one heart, yet the Sierra seems to get more light than other mountains. The weather is mostly sunshine embellished with magnificent storms, and nearly everything shines from base to summit – the rocks, streams, lakes, glaciers, irised falls, and the forests of silver fir and silver pine. — John Muir
The Sierra Nevada topped my bucket list ever since I first laid eyes on Ansel Adams’ and Galen Rowells’ photographs. While studying photography in college back in Austin, I was exposed to images that awoke a sleeping giant within me. An adventuresome spirit that began to show inklings when I was a tiny creature going on camping trips to Colorado with the family, became a force I wouldn’t be able to suppress.
Instead of our typical winter in Florida, we decided to explore the deserts of Arizona and Southern California. It was glorious. Those will warrant separate blog posts, but for this post, I’ll focus on California’s famous Highway 395.
I have to confess… I planned this whole past winter with the idea in mind that I would finally get to road trip up 395 along the eastern Sierra in the spring.
I can say with confidence that we were not disappointed with any portion of this leg of our nearly four year journey.
The flowers were just beginning to bloom when we arrived at Alabama Hills. The nights were still quite chilly, but the days began to warm, unless the wind was blowing, of course.
The Sierra loomed large and still nursed large swaths of snow.
Spring storms would roll in every few days to add another awe inspiring visual to the magical light of these mountains.
I was mesmerized by the sandstone formations and abundant desert flora. Endless photographic opportunities.
As we worked our way up, we made it to Bishop, a quaint little town. It’s a unique mixture of old conservative ranchers and dirtbag hippies. It seems to work, in a strange cultural yin and yang. I’ve only found that in one other place, and we made that town our “home.”
There’s something so balanced about having two opposing lifestyles like that in a small town that’s immensely appealing. Maybe it’s because I grew up idolizing cowboys and the old, conservative pioneer spirit. And with Boomers for parents, I knew the good side of the hippies and “free spirits” too.
We lived off the grid in the deserts surrounding Bishop for free for several weeks, as I explored the area with my feet, my truck, and my camera.
I was struck by how much it reminded me of Wyoming. Sparse, vast, open, rugged. Drop-dead gorgeous.
After our time in and around Bishop, we headed up to Mammoth and Mono and the land of the hot springs.
I made a few reptile friends along the way, of course.
The original plan was to go all the way up to Truckee and then head east back to Wyoming, but the unfortunate gas prices, and hell, frankly the price of everything in CA caused us to bail a little early and head over to Nevada for a few weeks before our return to WY.
So we have a little unfinished business along Highway 395. But in all, we spent six weeks exploring this remote American gem, and it will forever now hold a place in my soul. It is unique in it’s landscapes and the people it attracts. It is our kind of place.
So much so, we made a little fam portrait at the end of our time in the eastern Sierra.
It was a wonderful first visit, and I feel certain it won’t be our last.
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