Owens River Gorge
Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
20Trip End Jan 04, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Browns Millpond Campground
Our next climbing destination was Owens River Gorge, just north of the town of Bishop. We found another great campsite - Brown's Millpond Campground. It's a massive place, but there were only a couple of RVs and 1 other tent here when we arrived. This place is luxury - running water, flush toilets, hot showers and a laundry room with a sofa. In fact, one of the best things about the laundry room is that it's somewhere warm to sit in the evenings! The campground is in a beautiful setting, just below the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, with beautiful trees and a stream rushing through the middle of it. Stacy, who runs the campground, is lovely - when we broke one of our mugs, there was a replacement mug on our picnic table when we got home- and very friendly (and very talkative - no such thing as a quick chat with her!) - and has 23 chickens that wander about, scratching in the dust. It's somewhat bizarre to look out of your tent and see a chicken walking past!
The climbing here has been fantastic. The rock is volcanic and the walls are mainly vertical, give or take a few degrees, with lots of good incut holds, so we've both done some excellent routes. We also got incredibly lucky with the weather - they've had near record high temperatures this week, so we've had blue skies and sunshine every day. There's still the desert thing going on though, so it’ll be 85 degrees in the gorge on the sunny side, but you need a fleece on when you’re in the shade. The only real problem with the situation here hinges around the word 'gorge'...once again, we find ourselves hiking down to the crags in the morning, then when we're really tired at the end of the day, the long hike back up again. Life is so tough...
On Wednesday we decided to take a rest day and went to the Keough Hot Ditch, a series of natural hot springs a few miles south of Bishop. We drove down a dirt road and saw a few other vehicles parked along the way, but we managed to get a little pool to ourselves. It was so amazing - like getting into a crystal clear warm bath, sparkling in the sun. There were loads of little fishes that swam around us, too. We weren't sure how they survived there, given the temperature and also the fact that the water must have been very high in salt or minerals, because it was much more buoyant than ordinary water. When you put your arms or legs out, they instantly floated up. Soaking there in the sunshine, looking across to the distant snow-capped mountains was extremely relaxing - quite a nice way to spend a Wednesday afternoon!
The next day we went in search of the Buttermilks, some famous giant boulders just to the west of Bishop. After driving around in circles on dirt roads for ages, we eventually found them and Darrell did some bouldering - it was too hard for Amanda! (If you've been wondering why there are always lots of pictures of Amanda climbing, but hardly any of Darrell - it's down to our weight difference. When Amanda is toproping, it's perfectly safe for Darrell to belay with one hand and take photos with the other. But when Darrell is leading a route, Amanda definitely needs both hands on the rope!) Fortunately, Darrell was wearing a very photogenic red T-shirt, so Amanda got lots of nice pics of him for a change.
While we were there, we saw loads of little lizards scurrying about, and one of them decided to check out Amanda's rucksack, so we managed to get a close up. When we were heading back to the car, we were doing our usual scavenging for wood for the campfire, when Amanda saw what she thought was a beetle on one of her pieces of wood. However, when she shook it, we realised that it was a scorpion. Darrell bravely took some close up photos of it, and lived to tell the tale.
In case any of our family (Mums, in particular) has been worrying about whether we're eating properly, we wanted to reassure you. We've become quite adept at rustling up semi-gourmet meals on our camping stove...risotto, spaghetti carbonara, bean chilli, fajitas, burritos, corned beef hash, Spanish omelette, lots of fresh fruit & veg, and our piece de resistance, a fabulous barbecue!
So we're at a watershed - we've been on our road trip for 8 weeks, we've travelled 5000 miles, been to 13 states and we're not far from the west coast now. But the days are getting shorter, the clocks go back tonight, and winter is on its way. Will we survive the next 7 weeks before we make it back to the safe haven of living in Sinnet's house again at Christmas? Watch this space...