Thursday, April 28, 2022

Enough with the wind already!

 It was so windy today that my sunglasses blew off!   So windy that we couldn't stand at the Little Lake Overlook without holding on to something!    

It wasn't too bad in the morning when we visited the Olanche Sculpture Garden, thank goodness.  We were on our way to do the little hike to Fossil Falls but decided to stop at the small sculpture installation in the desert right beside rt. 395 first.

  The short dirt road leading to the sculptures came upon us fast and we almost passed by.    Luckily I saw these crows at the turn and  Dave was able to get off the road in time.  

 We parked the Jeep and walked around and through these dozen or so whimsical but very personal pieces.   The artist, Jael Hoffman was born in Israel and lived in Berlin before moving to the United States.    Her sense of humor is obvious in these works as is more serious symbolism and social conflict.    At times we had a short, quite chubby guide.   He didn't say much about what these pieces meant to him, but he was cheerful.   He was a little camera shy so I only got pictures of him from behind.

he's heading back home

I love the "movement" of her hair!

what goes around, comes around?

her brief case is an auto gas tank!


I just noticed there were words on their signs....can you read them?

The last piece made sure that we knew where public area ended and the private road began!

We continued our drive to the Fossil Falls area, turning off 395 onto Cinder Road at the base of a huge cinder cone we'd seen on our drive into Lone Pine on Monday.   Evidently it is the youngest volcanic cone in the area, last erupting 10,000 years ago!

We passed the turn off for the Fossil Falls, deciding to try and find the Little Lake Overlook to eat lunch first.    We drove through (stopping often) fantastic,  otherworldly scenery for about 5 miles.  

The ground went from black to white to rusty red and back again.    Smooth areas bordered by sharp rocky outcroppings of lava.   The wind began to pick up buffeting the Jeep and making it hard to open the doors to get out and explore.

The cinder piles were sculpted into drifts and waves by the wind and little eddies raced past us (and through us at one point!).

a narrow but really strong eddie whirling along

We passed several solidified lava flows coming down from the mountains behind the nearby China Lake Naval Weapons Station boundry.    We didn't want to drive any closer to check them out in case we'd find ourselves somewhere we shouldn't be....

The "road" to the Overlook followed a high voltage power line and the wind had the lines above us humming and making the most disturbing sounds.

We only saw a few little flowers trying to keep their hold on the rough ground along the way.   Lots of beautiful little Horned Larks flitted along ahead of us low to the ground to avoid being blown away.  I only was able to get pictures good enough for identification but not for publication! 

We finally arrived at the overlook as the wind really started to howl.    We put our heads down, took off anything that might blow away (hat, sunglasses, etc.) and fought our way to the edge to look down about 500 feet from the 130,000 year old lava ridge we were standing on.   It was quite the view and worth the drive. 

Unfortunately we had to eat our lunch in the car but the ride was worth it.... We were serenaded by the humming, groaning power lines....very creepy.

We made our way back but decided to save Fossil Falls for another, less windy day.   

I forgot to tell you about yesterday!      After lunch yesterday we followed the dirt road beside our campground back onto the dry Owens Lake bed to see the restoration and dust mitigation efforts by the LADWP.  

Boulder Creek RV is that little green line in the distance

  In the early years of the 20th century the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power diverted (many say stole) water from the 110 square mile lake to provide for it's growing population.   By the mid 1920's Owens Lake and River had almost completely dried up, causing it to become the largest source of dust pollution in the United States.    It's a long and contentious story, you can read about it if you're interested.        We wanted to see, first hand, what was happening now

We drove along long, level gravel dikes bordered by huge sections of gravel underlaid with fabric, shallow flooded areas, sections with native grasses being nurtured and spots with odd looking gravel formations similar to a plowed field.    There were no signs of any kind, anywhere so we just drove along, looking for the migrating birds that are said to be returning to these shallow ponds. 

this guy didn't like us looking at him...he puffed up and squawked like an old rusty gate!

We saw a series of short, level trails leading to and from a large pavilion, Plover Wing Plaza I think, but we couldn't figure out how to get there from where we were so we figured we'd try again some other time!

Tonight we're back, wind blown and sand blasted,  but happy campers!    Wine, dinner and bed is all we have on tap.   No TV, the cable has been out in the park since we arrived so - nighty night.    Tomorrow is another day! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


 Yesterday we decided to stop at the nearby Visitor Center first, before setting off on our own.   If you know me, you'll know that I rarely do that.    I'd rather bumble about, see what we can see, and then stop to find out what it was.     For the second time in a row, I wished we'd just done that.     This time the young man on duty was admittedly a "fill in" for the regular ranger.     I asked a few questions and he shrugged his shoulders, charmingly, and said he didn't really know.    "Here, let me google it for you" was his answer.     This Visitor's Center is a very nice one with lots of displays and interpretive information.   Just not what I was looking for.

Luckily we've been here a few times before and had a pretty decent idea of what we wanted to do and see.   I hoped we'd get good directions and/or some new and interesting nuggets to explore but.....

    I'd packed a lunch so we set off into the Alabama Hills and up to Mt. Whitney's trailhead at about 8,000 ft.   It's always a beautiful ride and a good way to start off our time here in Lone Pine.

We decided to eat in the hills before heading up the Mountain in case there were no places to stop along the way or in case there was snow.  We were told that the road was "soft closed" at some point but we could go past the barricade if we were careful.    Alrighty then.

We drove around a bit looking for a good spot to stop for a while.

One tiny cactus was trying so hard to show us it's one huge pink blossom....look at me, look at me!  So I had to take it's picture....

 We always find ourselves looking for water and finally came across a very pretty, wild rose lined path down to the creek.   Lunch tasted pretty good there and the smells from the tiny pink flowers was divine.

Further along the stream was lined with huge old Cottonwood trees and rioted over rocky ledges.

After lunch was finished we drove up Whitney Portal road looking for the "soft closure" barricade, but found none. The road was closed just before the trailhead, which takes avid hikers up to the summit at over 14,000 feet, so we parked the Jeep and went the rest of the way on foot.   It was very cool, probably 60, but it felt and smelled wonderful.   Huge, butterscotchy scented Ponderosa pines and fresh mountain air were wonderfully invigorating.

don't you love this scary face in the bark?

The campgrounds were all still closed for the season and we pretty much had the entire area to ourselves.       We took our hiking poles and climbed around amongst the huge boulders looking for the water falls we knew to be there.

We came upon the rubble of a large and  probably recent landslide.   The creek was choked with fractured and splintered evergreen tree trunks and boulders.    Some of the trees look like they had virtually exploded on their way down, bark skinned off others, leaving shiny bare trunks.  

 One enormous boulder, probably 20 feet high, had obviously come barreling down the mountain side, over the creek and came to rest on end, against what was probably a very frightened  tree several hundred feet from the stream.   Luckily the campground was closed because it landed in site #8.   I wanted Dave to stand beside it, you know, for scale - but he wouldn't do it!

After marveling at the tree's strength and wondering how long it would be able to hold up that boulder, we continued along the to find the waterfall, icy at the top but free flowing at it's base.

Today we had a wonderful afternoon driving around the dry Owen's lakebed looking for birds!   But, the internet is getting very v e r y  s l o w right now so I'll tell you about that next time.