After a few consecutive weeks of working over 60 hours, I was in need of a mental break. Where better to take that break than to the Eastern Sierra while the peaks are still covered in snow. The 2017 snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is larger than it has been in nearly 35 years, putting some ease to the serious drought concerns in California. This exciting news also comes as a slight drag for those wanting to camp and fish, as the heavy snowpack may push back opening dates for campgrounds and passes on the eastern side.
Heavy snowfall or not, I was still able to camp at lower eleveations this past weekend. After leaving work late Friday night, I made it up to Lone Pine around 2:30 am and had my tent set up in the Alabama Hills by 3. The darkness of the night had me slightly disoriented, as I set up my main door facing towards what I thought was the West. When I woke up in the morning, I looked outside to see that I was facing a large boulder. I was slightly disappointed, thinking that I had blocked myself off from an amazing view of an Eastern Sierra sunrise. Lucky for me, I had actually just been facing east the entire time. As soon as I turned around, I was greeted with a beautiful view of the Alabama Hills sitting in front of the majestic, cloud-covered Sierra Nevada.
Campsite in the Alabama Hills
Unsure of where I would be sleeping the next night, I packed up my stuff and headed north towards Rock Creek Lake. I knew the snowpack would still be large up there, but it was worth the drive to see how far I could make it. Rock Creek Road was plowed only a few miles up, which was where I began my short trek through the snow in search of better views. There were only a few other people around, mostly getting ready for a day of cross-country skiing around the area. After lunch I headed back down towards Big Pine, where my plan was to drive up Glacier Lodge Road. Last time I was here in January the road was closed off because of rock slides, but this time it was closed a little further towards the campgrounds due to snow.
Inyo National Forest
Since that wouldn’t work, I decided to head back out and over to Taboose Creek, where I figured I could find a quiet campsite. My plan was to set up camp somewhere near the creek at a site with trees wide enough apart to hang my hammock. Mission accomplished – I found my spot, strung up the hammock, and immediately went for a 3 hour nap in the shade. The afternoon silence was broken only by the flow of the creek, making it pretty easy to fall right asleep.
Hammock setup at Taboose Creek
Someone had recently come through and trimmed tree branches by the creek, leaving a ton of extra firewood for me to add to the two bundles I already had. That was a nice surprise which allowed me to start my fire earlier in the evening, helping to make the mosquitoes a little less intense. I woke up only twice that night – the first time with an amazing view of the stars in the night sky, and the second only a few moments before sunrise. Something about the shades of purple and orange draped over snow-covered mountain peaks takes any and all your worries away.
View of the night sky from Taboose Creek
This was an excellent trip, and just what I needed after six weeks or so away from the mountains. It also served as a pretty good scouting trip, as I was able to see some road conditions of the areas I’m likely to spend much of summer in. There really is nothing like springtime in the Sierra Nevada, especially with the heavy snowpack, small crowds, and beautiful weather.