And Then There Were 2 1/4 – Bishop, CA
Turns out we’re not the only fools hanging around the Eastern Sierra’s on the edge of winter. Besides the sprinkling of rigs that we’ve seen in the campgrounds, there are a select few (the smartest, the stupidest or the coolest?) meandering down Hwy 395 with the intent of sucking out the very last seasonal marrow from the mountains. One of these happens to live in a van, takes up a trifling amount of space, is passably hygienic, plays live sax music (seriously -> check out his latest blog recording), and qualifies as an all-around relaxed cool dude.
The 1/4-sized red-bed-lined-go-anywhere-mobile and us had stayed in loose contact since our last get-together in Arizona and when we scored a super-sweet boondocking site large enough to handle 20 of said puny vehicles, we invited him over to join us. To Simplify rolled in the very afternoon we set-up, slotted into a small portion of the view and has been hanging with us ever since.
We were now three….or rather more precisely around 2 1/4.
Our new location is a spot we discovered last year, the barren, yet strikingly beautiful Bishop Volcanic Tablelands. Formed over 700,000 years ago by materials spewing from the Long Valley caldera in the northwest, this rocky plateau is a boldering, biking and hiking wonderland. There are only a select few “beast-size” camping options, requiring some effort to get into, but once here you can enjoy near 360-degree views and lots of quiet. Having rock n’rolled our way over the teeth-chattering dirt road to get here, we all decided to call it home for a while.
And there is no end of stuff you can do here….
Bishop is an area we’ve visited multiple times before and it’s quite the little cornucopia of hidden treasures. From the high alpine lakes of the John Muir Wilderness, to the ancient bristlecones of the White Mountains, the historical petrogylphs of Fish Slough, interesting museums, great food (Thai, Mexican, burgers etc.), hot springs & local farms you could literally spend a few months getting to know it all. It’s also low enough in elevation (~4,500 feet) to get us out of the main trajectory of the high mountain storms, yet it has a view large enough to let you enjoy it all from your front window.
And we managed the move just in time, too.
Mere days after we arrived the first snowstorm hit the mountains from our last site, leaving a sprinkling of white topping along their edges. The effects of orographic lift (=when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain) enhanced our view by creating spectacular and unusual cloud formations. It’s an effect I look forward to everytime we travel this route, and the high mountain-top sierra winds always deliver. From the seductive swirls of the “Sierra Wave” to UFO-like Lenticular Clouds and everything in-between, sunset becomes the best kind of live theatre you could ever imagine. No two days are ever the same.
As cool as this spot is winter weather is still nipping at our heels so today we move on, seeking yet lower elevation and our next spot. More nomad meet-ups are in our future, as well as (most likely) our annual trip to a certain hot springs down south. Maybe we’re not so foolish after all?
- Boondocking & Bumming – Bishop, CA
- $2 Gourmet Meals, Railroads & Some Apples – Bishop, CA
- The Oldest Living Things On Earth – Ancient Bristlecone Forest, CA
- Land Of A Thousand Apline Lakes – John Muir Wilderness, CA
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