My Solo Wanderings of the West

kennyj

Explorer
With a few days left on my Inyo campgrounds pass I moved back south to Big Pine and the Baker Creek campground at the edge of town.




I rode the bike up nearby Glacier Lodge Road. There were some good mountain views on the ride up the but the road ended in a deeply wooded valley and the Lodge was long ago burned/demolished.




Wildflowers seen along the road.




I packed up and headed for the mountains to the east. Along the way I passed the junction of Big Pine Road, the portal to the remote areas in the northern part of Death Valley.




At the top of the steep and twisting route 168 I turned up White Mountain Road and in a few miles took a spur road to find a dispersed campsite.



 

kennyj

Explorer
I continued up White Mountain Road on the bike to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest. This is the site of the oldest living trees on earth, with one live tree dated more than 5,000 years old.




The trees thrive in the thin air at over 10,000 feet and harsh, rocky soil conditions and drought conditions. They are slow-growing and have incredibly tight grain, with growth rings up to 100 years in one inch.




The twisted trunk of a dead Bristlecone tree.




At a nearby ruins of an old mining camp, cabins were built of logs cut from Bristlecone pines. The logs' good condition displays the incredible resistance to rot and decay.




A view of the trees and in the distance the peaks of the Sierras.




It was still early enough in the season that White Mountain Road was closed beyond Schulman Grove. It would have been fun to continue further north into the mountains and explore some of those areas.




The road to the Bristlecones featured incredible views of the Sierras across the Owens Valley. Here, the town of Bishop lies directly below with the Buttermilk hills in the valley to the left, and Pleasant Valley, where I camped a few days earlier, to the right.




Exploring one of the spur roads.




Returning from the Bristlecone area, the road descends toward Big Pine, seen in the valley ahead. Also in this view; high in the Sierras above Big Pine are the Palisade Glaciers, the southernmost glaciers in North America.



And that's all for this update. :coffee:

 

chet6.7

Explorer
Thanks for the update,as always,looking forward to the next one.
Computer problems, I suspect we all have had them.
Safe travels.
 

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Vanaroo

Observer
Really enjoyed the update. It can be so frustrating when you lose stuff you've put hard work into and have to start again. Thanks for making the effort.

I came over 266/168 once in the dusk/dark and have never seen them in daylight (yet). So I especially enjoyed those photos.
 

justcuz

Explorer
The view out across the valley enroute to the BPF is breathtaking.
Thanks for the info about the museums, you never know if they are worth the stop.
Safe travels and thanks for the update, can't wait to see more!
 

Hughbetcha

New member
Hey Kenny, just knowing you are OK is the best part of any update! You're an inspiration for all of us. Thank you for all your updates, they make my daydreams seem so real!
 

despain85

New member
Took roughly three days to go through this thread and all I can say is it's AWESOME! I showed my wife some pics and am trying to get her to accept a camper van and travel like this. Definitely one of the best traveling threads going on right now.
 

kennyj

Explorer
Hi everybody, I wanted to catch up on replies...
I’ve gotten so many great replies and comments I can’t reply to everyone, so:
Chet, Buddha, SDSteve, tyuio010203, zb39, real3175, justcuz, Tazman, kcabpilot, dawnhoyden, Vanaroo, franklantern, jhonarnold, stanw909, RangerRocket, Randall253, fortel, Milton, Overdrive, Hughbetcha, despain85, churninern,
Thanks for checking in, I really appreciate it. And to everyone else following along, thanks!

And a few more I wanted to reply to…

chet6.7
Good to hear from you again,I was wondering if you had moved into Slab City.;)
Nahhh, but I may end up back in Slab City in December!


Buddha
Nice update. Is this a third fuel pump related breakdown?
Actually to recap the whole fuel problem; the roadside replacement in ’14 was done with a $40 ebay rebuild kit. I should have replaced it eventually with a new oem pump, but it was running okay so I let it be. Forward to ’16 and the stalling issues which I eventually traced to bad wiring and a bad ground, but not before low voltage/high amps toasted the ebay pump. Replacing finally with a new oem pump, and fixing all the wiring issues has solved the issues. In fact I have since replaced the fuel injection spider and spark plugs and it’s really been running great


stanw909
You inspired me to take the wife and camper van to the Lone Pine area. We also stopped at Fossil Falls then camped and tooled around the Alabama Hills. We have been going up to the June Lake loop for decades in the summer time but too hot to stop in Lone Pine usually. This was in May so still cool. Looked for circling buzzards just in case but none spotted.
Sounds like a great trip; too bad we didn’t run into each other!


Milton
Kenny, You've inspired many. So much so that I bought a van in CA (while living in HI) and wandered for about a month up the CA coast and into OR. I'm planning the next leg of my trip for this later this summer in OR, WA and into Canada. Thanks for the inspiration. Aloha from a rock in the middle of the sea.
This is so cool, thanks, Milton. Good looking van, too!


justcuz
Kenny, If you head north to the Bristlecone Pine Forest, stop at the Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine. They BBQ pork, beef and chicken, all good. If you go north to Yosemite, you owe it to yourself to at least stop and walk through Camp 4 and check out the rock climbers and watch them scale a climb for a couple hours. Most rock monkeys are an eclectic group but generally friendly if you have questions about what they do. Also have a more scenic alternate route to Tahoe if heading that way.
I saw the Copper BBQ but I did not stop, next time I will know better! when I was in Yosemite in ’14 I checked out Camp 4 and I spent quite some time with binoculars watching the climbers.


Overdrive
Hi Kenny-
Just read this whole thread over the past few days...amazing! Thanks for taking the time to share! I love the way you are seeing so much beautiful country without a huge cash outlay. I am now looking into purchasing an enduro to carry on the back of the truck...seems like the best way to see the surrounding areas.
I've been wondering what you do for meals. Could you tell us what your typical daily eats consist of when you are camped in the boonies for a few days?
Thanks Scott
Hey Scott, I’m not much of a camp cook but I do cook a hot meal for supper pretty much every day. I really keep it simple and eat a lot of one-pot meals. My Dad grew up in Iowa and we remember him calling these meals a “Mixture”. I eat lots of rice, beans, rice and beans, ramen plus whatever, chili, variations on Mexican, breakfast for dinner, and I make a killer grilled Spam and cheese. :)


Vanaroo
Really enjoyed the update. It can be so frustrating when you lose stuff you've put hard work into and have to start again. Thanks for making the effort.
I came over 266/168 once in the dusk/dark and have never seen them in daylight (yet). So I especially enjoyed those photos.
Thanks, Vanaroo. From Big Pine it’s only about 15-20 miles to the junction of White Mountain Road; someday I would love to take that route all the way across to Nevada. Added to my list!


To churninern, re your question about the awning,
The awning came from Bus Depot; it’s designed for a VW bus and to clamp into the rain gutter of a bus. I fabricated a “gutter”, mounted to the roof of my van to attach the awning. The great thing is it makes a rain-proof joint between van and awning, and the dome top sheds precipitation. They do sell other types of attachment hardware. Bus Depot sells screen/window walls for the awning; I just use a generic ez-up screen wall attached to the awning edge with plastic spring clips. It has enough excess screen to cover the rear tailgate of the van, and the sliding door, so I can get really good bug protection. Sometimes I skip the awning setup and just wrap one section of screen wall around the side and back of the van.
 

kennyj

Explorer
After visiting the Bristlecone area I went back north to Bishop, this time making camp at the Pit, a BLM camping area just west of Bishop. The Pit is a natural depression that looks just like a quarry pit. The campsite is a popular base for climbers, and oddly used to be open only from November to May for the winter months, but is now open year round.




The view from the Pit across 395 to the Buttermilk Hills.




I took another, longer, ride up nearby Pleasant Valley. The road eventually comes out on the volcanic tablelands to the north of Bishop.




One day I took the bike over to route 168 to ride to the top at Lake Sabrina. I previously drove up here in the van in 2014 and it was cold and snowing!




At the end of the highway, Lake Sabrina is actually a manmade lake and part of a hydro-electric facility. After a few years of light snow the lake is quite low as seen by the boat docks location over now dry land.



 

kennyj

Explorer
There are a number of roads that branch off route 168 and continue high into the Sierras. I wandered up one to the north and found more spectacular scenery.




And a real alpine lake,




and a mountain stream.




It could take days to explore all the side roads up there but I enjoyed my one day in the area. This is the view looking back down 168 with Bishop and the Owens Valley far below.




I really got a kick out of this “road sign”; I believe I saw Kit the yellow lab snoozing in the back of a pickup.


 

kennyj

Explorer
Just west of Bishop is the Buttermilk Hills area, sort of like the Alabama Hills, but different. The area is very popular with climbers for bouldering. Like the Alabamas there is also a lot of great dispersed camping. This is the view of Buttermilk Road after it turns off 168 and heads into the area.




One of the many boulder formations in the Buttermilk hills.




Some more views of the area. The graded access road ends and most of the roads through the area are pretty rugged.












I found the exact spot where I camped on my first visit to the area in 2013 when I did a lap around the Sierras. A ranger at the Forest Service in Bishop first told me about the area.




On the way out I spotted this rock sticking out of the road, splashed with motor oil and the metal shards of a shattered oil pan. The oil trail petered out and where I expected to find a vehicle with a seized engine I saw another, thinner trail of oil. The road continued for several miles with a few more ever-thinning oil trails. Finally at the junction of the highway, four kids from Washington watched as their heavily loaded VW Passat was being loaded on to a flatbed tow truck. I asked if the motor had seized and they looked at me all puzzled; the driver said it just lost power but since the grade was downhill they were able to drive it this far. I think they believed the car just needed a minor repair and they would be back on the road. I couldn’t believe the car continued to run without oil for the 4-5 miles before they stopped!




Next update, continuing further north up California 395.
 

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Ahhh, today's entitled youth, oblivious to most things that don't happen on social media.

Engines will run longer without oil than without water, not much, but longer.

Kenny, really enjoying your updates, especially these right now. Heading down to this neck of the woods next week and will probably trace over many of your footsteps (starting with a wedding in Big Pine and going from there. Will probably suffer from the meat sweats after hitting the Copper Top BBQ. Oh well, can think of worse problems...)
 
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