Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Portal to Playground

Once Pam let me know that Whitney Portal Road wasn't a dirt shelf I knew we had to return and finish the drive to the top. Monday is the day.

The handful of "no-guard-rail-steep-drop-off" corners and sections of huge rock slides (both the rocks and the slides are huge) aren't too bad, and the view across the basin is worth the couple of skipped heart beats. Lone Pine to the Portal is about a 4000 foot climb, and the last three miles are steep. Very glad we have coats with us as it is barely 50 degrees in the shade.

This is the staging point for hikers going to the Whitney Summit and the Whitney Recreation Area. In addition to the parking area, pit toilets, and bear boxes, there is a small store/kitchen that caters to the needs of hardy hikers and curious tourists.

The Portal itself has a permanent "starting/finish-line" feel to it, giving serious acknowledgement to what those who pass through it are about to undertake, and hopefully complete. 

High adventures await those who pass through this gate
Although there is very little snow on the peaks above, water is running strong down several creeks that all pass through the parking area. A large, beautiful waterfall at the back is reason alone to make the trip up here.



A few days earlier John and Pam, and Eric and Laurel, hiked the Whitney Portal Recreation Trail. We also hiked, walked, crossed the bridge, read the sign about the trail. It's very nice.

On the trail above the sign
The Sierras continue to amaze us every day. Whether in the distance coming back from Darwin, or at over 8000 feet in between their majestic walls - the power of these mountains is very humbling.




Ten miles back down the road and we have lost thousands of feet of elevation and gained 15 degrees in temperature. The rocks are no longer silver and gray, but brown and tan. Tall pines are replaced with low sagebrush.

We're back in the Alabama Hills, ready to play among the rocks again. A lot less people on this Monday afternoon, we nearly have the place to ourselves. We explore the multiple dirt roads, around boulders and through narrow canyons. Access to several small roads has been closed with rock barricades and signs, so we turn around carefully and go a different way. In more interesting spots we get out and scramble a little, getting a different perspective on the wider views, and discovering hidden gems away from the roads. We even find some more arches :-) It is a most wonderful playground.

So many interesting combinations
Around the corner

The trail blazer
Whitney on a shelf
So many paths to explore
Big and tall Arch

Rock-fell-over-and-made-an Arch
Bad Photographer Arch
The-sun-has-to-be-just-right Arch
Slices of nutty bread
Dolphin
Raven
Being out in nature like this, feeling the power of majestic mountains, playing in big rocks - we are so blessed.

Love that this is our yard

22 comments:

  1. I'm enjoying reading your adventures. We may have to retrace this route sometime on our return trip from Mazatlán. We were in to big of a hurry covering it in 5 weeks. It deserves more time. Enjoy your travels.

    Russ Ranger

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Russ! We could have definitely spend a couple months on this route, there's just so much to enjoy.

      Delete
  2. You crack me up! That is a most beautiful area to explore! Love your rock/arch names!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :-))) Those rocks are even more fun than clouds!!

      Delete
  3. Awesome pictures! Lol loved the trail blazer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Laura. She's actually pretty good at picking the best path through an area :-)

      Delete
  4. That's one thing about traveling along, we do get big backyards at times. Enjoy the scenery.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are really teasing me about visiting the Alabama Hills. So many cool rocks, and interesting arches.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Found another different area today as well - you have to come and spend a couple weeks Gaelyn - you'll love it!!

      Delete
  6. I can just feel your joy in your words. It's exactly how I feel with this retirement freedom. Who knew life could be so spectacular. Wish I'd done it 10 years earlier. Great arch names! And beautiful pictures of this really amazing place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Freedom is definitely the right word for what we are most grateful for. To see all this, at our own pace, is something we never imagined possible just a few years ago :-)

      Delete
  7. Jodee, you really paint pictures with your words! I am almost there with you at times; thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the sweet compliment :-) Glad to have you along with us!

      Delete
  8. Hahaha, "we read the sign about the Whitney Portal trail." So cute! You're right, it was COLD up there! I had on just about everything I own when we started that hike. Glad you guys made it to the top to see the spectacular views. And your waterfall pics are wonderful! Looks like another fun day playing in the Alabama Hills. Even Tessa got in on the action!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so beautiful up there! Tessa loves those big rocks - almost as much as the beach :-)

      Delete
  9. Great photos Jodee--love the one of Tessa but then I'm a sucker for dogs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Janna :-) they often steal the show!

      Delete
  10. What fun! I can't wait to get to there someday. Love the waterfalls. I read the others posts too. Looks like you all had such fun together. ps. There should be a way for you to block that annoying spammer (Doris/Delores?).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are going to love it - especially with your love of the Sierras! Yes, I have to look at my settings to figure out how to block the few spammers that continue to pop up on that old post :-((

      Delete
  11. This is definitely a route I am putting in the books! Love your post Jodee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :-) Plan to spend some time in both Bishop and Lone Pine, we could have added several more days to each place!

      Delete