It has been a year of weird with no lack of adventure. Last I wrote, I was fresh from a road trip to Colorado and planning on moving again, until I met someone. Well, much has changed since then. Turns out, it is really hard to leave this strange paradise during the summer so I stalled and decided to have a summer of leisure instead. People were confused why I was so tan and my explanation was that I was outside a lot during this leisurely summer. Right now though, Mono Lake is raging like the sea and it has been storming all day. I will certainly miss this incredible view I’ve had – deliberately unobstructed by curtains, but it seems like the perfect time to do what has become increasingly easier for me to do… knowing when it’s time to leave the party. BUT first, here are some highlights from a warmer and tanner time – my third summer in the Eastern Sierra.
Channel Islands, California
My main homies are all turning 40 this year and I went far and wide to celebrate Adriana’s multi-tiered-Birthday. This crazy-ass gemini had 2 birthday adventures planned and one surprise secret party that she didn’t know of. I met the best crew at the Channel Islands harbor in Ventura and we embarked on a boat to Santa Cruz Island, surrounded by dolphins that played in our wake and whales breaching off in the distance. It was my first whale sighting and it was magical, making me feel like Neptune with a scepter raised in his hand, riding on a dolphin powered chariot. We unloaded and set up camp at Scorpion Ranch for a two night stay on this bizarre island that felt much like being in the Santa Monica mountains, except you know, island. It’s an interesting place though with island foxes that walked right up to our campsite, like squirrels normally do, and it was hard not to feed them snacks. We couldn’t get on a kayak tour to see the sea caves but we sat and watched kayakers from the comfort of the beach and proceeded to have tons of laughs.
Kearsarge Lakes Basin Backpack
While seemingly everyone was road tripping out to Oregon/Idaho for the total solar eclipse, Meghan and I backpacked into the Kearsarge Lakes Basin for a 3-night adventure. We met at the Onion Valley trailhead out of Lone Pine and hiked in 4 miles to camp at Big Pothole Lake, tackling the pass early on the eclipse morning. At the top of the pass, some friendly hikers were doing the reverse trip and recommend an amazing campsite that they just left, nicknamed Snowman Camp because of the melting snow formation on the mountain. So we took their advice for our base camp and it was by far, in my top two campsites ever, Crazy Jug being #1 of course (a trip I also took with Meghan). There were some dramatic skies looking like weather, but other than a cloudy eclipse viewing party, we got lucky with no rain/snow; a perfect trip with tons of day hikes around the basin followed by lounging in our bomb-ass campsite.
Iva Bell Hot Springs Backpack
The waning days of summer were spent on a 29 mile r/t weekend backpacking trip with two of the most adventurous friends I have, Kristin and Russ. I met them in Mammoth Lakes and we headed out on a sunset hike to camp several miles in, tackling the 10 mile hike to the hot springs the next day. Again, beyond lucky with the best weather you could ask for, perfect for repeatedly popping out of the springs naked. We spent two nights back there with a few other hikers but we had the best campsite with our own personal hot spring just steps away. Iva Bell (so named for a baby that was born back there) is one of the most unique backpacks I’ve been on, with about 7 natural hot springs that you can soak in if you can find them – and since the Reese’s have been there a billion times, that was easy to do! The one thing I didn’t like was all the toilet paper people leave behind, LEAVE NO TRACE for christsake! It takes months for TP to break down! The climb out of there was also brutal because we tackled the 14ish miles in one shot, making Roberto’s Mexican Restaurant our guiding light burrito.
Death Valley Part 5
I think that makes Death Valley the National Park I’ve visited the most, even more than Yosemite! Tara, my adventurer in crime, planned an amazing trip out to DV with some great peeps from LA. We all met at Furnace Creek campground and the next day headed out to Rhyolite Ghost Town, Goldwell Open Air Museum and a drive through Titus Canyon followed by sand dune sledding at Mesquite Dunes! A quick little trip but saw and did things I haven’t done yet and got to see friends I don’t get to see on the reg. Plus, I won the pie iron cooking contest with my Philly Cheesesteaks!
Well there you have it, a few epic adventures from my last summer in the Eastern Sierra, for now anyway. It’s time for a new chapter entirely. I’m shifting the focus to create something extraordinary, something scary and something that takes a lot of courage for me to say yet alone consider doing…
I’m moving to Colorado to build the mobile tiny house of my dreams by my 40th birthday in May.
There I said it. I posted it. It’s published and it’s official. What? How? Where? Why? Who the? What the what? You see, after this attempt at becoming a park ranger, it became blazingly obviously clear that I can’t live the way I want to and do the work that I want to do. I need more freedom around the concept of ‘home’ and stability around the concept of freedom. No more renting from crazy landlords, no more listening to the sound of mice running in my walls at night, no more spending 1k/month paying down someone else’s mortgage. I’m building my own house that suits my needs on my own terms and in cash money so I can have the freedom to work the lower paying jobs that give me more meaning than money. As mentioned, this was the year of weird. I’ve worked 4 different jobs, loved and lost (2nd break-up in 1 year), battled insomnia all year, went into therapy (again) to build my self-trust back up, had friends (my age) get stricken with mystery illnesses, brain tumors and cancer, people are turning 40 (soon, me included), it’s like my own mortality was staring me in the face asking ‘OK NOW ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE YOUR NEEDS MORE SERIOUSLY?’ So I am. I’m taking a huge leap of faith and mustering up a tremendous amount of courage and trust in myself. Don’t let me down self!
Here are some more outtakes from my Eastern Sierra summer of leisure.