Spontaneous camping in Horseshoe Meadows

Saturday morning. I was sitting on the floor reading, while my better half also read on the couch. After a sleep in following the Longines Masters the night before, we looked at each other and I realised the weekend still had a day and a half to go.

An entire afternoon, a whole night, and a whole day after that! So much time to do stuff!

The previous weekend, driving back to LA just south of Lone Pine, I mentioned driving up the road that led to Cottonwood Lakes, a huge scar of switchbacks seen from the 395. I had no idea what was up there, hadn’t really researched the area for climbs or hikes, and knew nothing except it was used to plant trout into mountain lakes decades ago.

We had time to explore that road on this particular weekend. It was about four hours drive from Los Angeles to Lone Pine where we’d take a left turn and head into the mountains.

30 minutes later we were in the car, packed for camping and ready to escape the city. A quick stop at Whole Foods for some lunch on the way out, and we relished a rare flow of traffic on the 405.

Stopping in Mojave for groceries two hours later, it felt nice driving during the day. Approaching the Eastern Sierra the clouds began to gather and grow dark. The forecast where we were headed was 20% snow and around -3 Celsius overnight, so my tshirt and shorts from LA were going to be swapped quicksmart for a big puffy jacket when we arrived!

Now, over to the photos as they tell the story of this mini adventure better than me!

Clouds Eastern Sierra Lone Pine

Ominous clouds from the 395

Horses on the way to Horseshoe Meadow

Horses between the 395 and Horseshoe Meadow Road (it was very dark from the weather)

Horseshoe Meadows Road

Moments later this packet popped open from elevation gain and scared the @(#* out of us! (Pic by Dikko)

Horseshoe Meadows Road

Snow as we gain elevation on Horseshoe Meadows Road (Pic by Dikko)

Horseshoe Meadow Campground

Our walk in site at Horseshoe Meadows Campground

Horseshoe Meadow Campground

Good morning melted snow!

Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead

I love these wooden signs, a sign of fresh air and adventures

Horseshoe Meadow

Weird looking squirrel…

Horseshoe Meadow

Cool boulder in Horseshoe Meadow

Horseshoe Meadow

Overlooking Horseshoe Meadow, an artery of autumn color follows a watercourse

Horseshoe Meadow

Tracks in Horseshoe Meadow

Horseshoe Meadows Road

Dikko on a helicopter pad adjacent Horseshoe Meadows Road on the drive out

Horseshoe Meadows Road

As we leave the mountains the clouds chase us down

Horseshoe Meadows Road

I present to you, the Owens Valley featuring Alabama Hills and Lone Pine (Pic by Dikko)

Horseshoe Meadows Road

A car makes it way down Horseshoe Meadow Road, originally built to support mining

Lone Pine boulders

Back down in the valley exploring a cool road west of Lone Pine

From here we stopped in Lone Pine at the Mt Whitney Restaurant where I ordered a malt shake (half of it in a takeaway cup for later!) and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Driving back to Los Angeles we explored Fossil Falls, but that was such a cool surprise it deserves its own post.

There’s no doubt this overnighter was proof I don’t have to plan in advance to enjoy something. The snow, the cold air, the crazy road, the lovely Horseshoe Meadows stroll, my curiousity satiated (at least for now!) It was also proof that every now and then it’s good to do something spontaneous, totally free of expectations.

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