Saturday, November 04, 2006

Travels Past: Alabama Hills, Owens Valley

In which we revisit favorite places, with the help of modern technology.

Alabama Hills Arch

This graceful arch serves as a kind centerpiece to one of the most remarkable places in California. You’ll recognize it if you’ve seen a lot of old western movies, and even Gunga Din, but unless you’ve been there, you probably don’t know its name.

The place is called the Alabama Hills, in the Owens Valley, just east of the little mountain town of Lone Pine, off of Highway 395. I camped there last year while taking in the annual Mule Days celebration in Bishop, about 30 miles to the north.

The arch is about 7 ½ feet tall—a person of ordinary height can touch the top. At this angle, the arch frames one of the Sierra Nevada peaks near Mount Whitney.

The stone that makes up Alabamas is a fragile granite, and will crumple in your hand. It is a harsh, beautiful, haunting sort of place.

Alabama Hills Camp Site

Our tent on the lonely plateau beneath the hills.

Alabama Hills Flower

Even the desert blooms.

(Click on the images for a larger view.)


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