Let’s start this post with a confession… I’m a bit of an Instagram addict. I could browse travel and nature photos all day long. Of all the Instagram photos I’ve seen over the years, there has been one place that I’ve seen over and over and over again that I knew I had to see with my own eyes. The Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, CA. This well-known, insanely beautiful and unique stretch of public land is perfectly poised at the base of the Eastern Sierras; making it easy to understand why Hollywood has chosen the Alabama Hills to be the backdrop of hundreds of movies and commercials. If I had a bucket list, this place would definitely be on it. However, the hype made me a little hesitant. With popularity comes crowds, trash, noise and general destruction. All things we try to avoid when searching for the perfect campsite.
We arrived on a Tuesday and to our delight had no trouble finding the perfect spot. After a few hours soaking in our new surroundings, I was shocked and thrilled to have not found a single piece of trash. This place really was as good as it looked online and it was easy to see why so many people flocked here.
Our first morning greeted us with one of the most phenomenal sunrises I’ve ever witnessed. It was hard to balance soaking up the magic of it all while taking as many photos as possible to remember it by. An incoming storm only added to the grandeur of it all. As we rode out the storm for the next 24 hours, we couldn’t think of a better place to sit inside our trailer and watch thru our windows as the weather put on a show.
As it turns out, we were parked where scenes from Ironman were filmed and as a result watched tourists come and go from our campsite all day long. While they quickly got their obligatory photo and left, we reveled knowing we got to call this remarkable place home for an entire week.
Then Friday came and along with it all the people that also had Alabama Hills on their bucket list. Our campsite turned from a party of one to a party of six different groups. Oh how I wish I would have taken a photo as it looked nothing like the picture of solitude you’re about to see below. Between the inflow and outflow of people and the constantly changing weather, not one day of our week was like the next.
We left at the end of that week wondering how a place so popular was so well cared for. Was it a coincidence? Had someone just cleaned our campsite? Did Lone Pine have a committee that kept it’s crown jewel looking it’s best? I had no idea but I could only hope that with it’s growing popularity, it remained respected and available for future generations to enjoy. The beauty of our public lands is that we can explore the same land our grandparents did (I have photos of my grandparents camping in their truck camper in this very region) , but if we don’t pay the wilderness the respect it deserves, it may not be there for our grandchildren. Just a little something to think about next time you embark on a Mother Nature-sponsored adventure : )
The day we arrived it was completely overcast, a thick layer of grey hiding the Sierras from our view. Waking up to this the next morning was surreal and an all-time favorite camp moment.
I haven’t seen Ironman so I would have never known that we were parked on it’s set, however, I have seen Tremors and climbing the boulders around camp took me right back to that “it’s so bad, it’s good” flick from my childhood.
Another sunrise just begging to be photographed.
Above: Rain overnight left behind this little puddle. Below: The result that Mark made with it.
One week prior we stood at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in North America (282′ below sea level), now we were staring up at Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States at 14,505′. Experiencing the contrast of the two regions was spectacular.
Laundry, packing, re-stocking day:
I’m only a couple of posts away from finally catching up with real time and we can’t wait to tell you all about why we’re spending the month of April in Idaho! See you back here next week!