At the beginning of March, we left Joshua Tree to head to Los Angeles. There we caught up with our dear friends Mel and Zenobia. We managed to find a fun hike that took us up to the “Wisdom Tree” and the Hollywood sign!
After our quick week in LA, we headed East with our sights set on Death Valley. We made a stop at Trona Pinnacles for the night where we met up with Tom (a van friend that we met the month before in Joshua Tree). We made it just in time to pay witness to one of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen!
Zenobia rolled in with the following sunrise, and together we all drove to Death Valley. In an effort to avoid the heat that Death Valley is known for, we figured early March would be kind to us. We assumed wrong. With temperatures pushing over 100 degrees, we decided to hike out to a waterfall oasis that seemed completely out of place in such an intense desert. The cool waters were an amazing place to take refuge for the majority of the day while we hatched our plans for the following day.
With first light we started our quest out to the rarely visited Panamint Dunes. The hike rounded out at a little over 8 miles with sand and heat the whole way, but it was well worth it! When we got to the dunes, we were rewarded with panoramic views of the valley and some epic dune-jumping. The best part was we were the only ones there! Seeing beautiful places is always special, but when you are totally alone it amplifies the experience. After an incredibly memorable weekend in Death Valley, we said our goodbyes to Tom and Zenobia and headed towards Lone Pine.
For the next week we stood still for the most part, hanging out around Lone Pine at the base of the picturesque Mount Whitney. We made a trip to Manzanar, a Japanese concentration camp from WWII. It is a quiet place where you can reflect upon the complicated history of that time and the monument’s modern relevance. If you are not familiar with Manzanar we highly recommend checking it out.
Later in the week we popped over into the Alabama Hills, a little rock wonderland. It’s a playground of boulders with an Alpine backdrop. We also happened to meet an NPR radio show host that was at the camp spot next to us. We ended up having a fun little interview in our van, which you can check out here: Radio Podcast
After a week, we made our way back to Death Valley, because we just could not get enough of that heat! Just kidding ;) We made plans to meet Aidan and Clara for a video shoot for our sponsor GoWesty. This time around we got to check out the very bottom of Death Valley, Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level! It was super hot (surprise, surprise) so we took a dip in the pool in the valley hotel to escape the brutal heat. Pro tip: you can swim in the pool at the hotel in Stovepipe Wells for the low price of $5 and it is awesome.
When the day started to cool off, we made our way out to Ash Meadows, a Nevada State Park that sits just east of Death Valley NP. Ash Meadows has beautiful warm springs and old homesteads. Clara is actually related to the homesteaders so, long story short, we visited her Great Great Grandfather’s house! After a fun weekend of successful shooting and hanging, we parted ways and made our way to Lone Pine (again).
We quickly made our way up 395 to Bishop where we spent a few days working and staring at the snow covered Sierras. A few nights later we continued our journey north towards Mammoth Lakes. On the way, we got pulled over in a driving snow storm because our reverse lights were stuck on (they had been since January). The officer was very understanding, so we were on our way with just a fix-it ticket. That night, we parked on the side of a road that was supposed to lead to a campsite, but was completely blocked by a wall of snow. Just about all of the campsites were closed in this area due to the record-breaking year of snowfall that was still coating the California Sierras. Because we were repeatedly shut down trying to find campsites, we continued on up to Lake Tahoe. Lo' and behold, all campsites were closed. Luckily, the Tahoe area has parking lots you can camp in if you get a “Sno-Park” pass (we recommend it if you are in a pinch). With a Sno-Park pass in hand, we bundled up for a 17 degree night.
Ready for warm weather, we drove across the Sierras the next day with our sights set on Santa Cruz. We were heading to a van campout at Mount Madonna! There, we connected with a ton of friends, old and new. It was a great time! We always love connecting with the van community. The next day we made our way to Santa Cruz for a well deserved surf day with our beloved Matt and Allie!
The next week was a blur of work. We had gotten a big project that required both of us to be designing until our brains turned to mush. Our brains are still recovering (hence the slow turn around on this post). Luckily our friends Ben and Shestin were kind enough to host us for that week. By the time the weekend rolled around we were ready to rage, and rage we did...on some rocks at Goat Rock. We met up with Matt and Allie again for some climbing on the coast and surfing! We haven’t done a ton of climbing lately, so it was great to be out doing it again in such a beautiful setting. What about the surfing you ask? Well, that’s for next month...
Thanks are owed to Mel and Zenobia, Ben and Shestin, and Allie and Matt for hosting us this month. We’d also like to thank Shelby for helping us out with proofreading and editing our amateur writing. You guys rock.