Owens River Gorge

Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
Trip End Jan 04, 2011

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Where I stayed
Browns Millpond Campground

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, November 6, 2010

We set off from Red Rocks on Saturday October 30th, and as we drove out of the campsite we clocked up our 5000th mile. There were dark storm clouds looming over the mountains...the ones we needed to cross to get to California.  Most of the rest of Nevada consisted of desert and straight roads, but when we did cross a mountain pass we got out of the car and walked on our first snow of the trip.

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...
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Graham (Oz) on

Love the pics from the Owens River Gorge and surrounds - looks great! I assume the passing chook became Chicken Maryland for you both - another fine BBQ? I'd rather have "your" car ... pink just isn't me. Darrell - how DO you manage to climb upside down and leap tall buildings like that? Blooming show off ... no wonder you needed that bath. The scenery looks truly beautiful. I admire your choice of Yellowtail - now that swine! - oops, sorry, that's wine! I shall look forward to purchasing my copy of the Amandarrell "Coffee Table" book when published - but shall expect personal delivery, of course! Keep on having fun!

Pete F on

Chickens outside your tent? Be grateful it's not bears!
And hiking in and out of the gorge? We've just been to a talk by Leo Houlding so we know that *real climbers* would base jump in and climb out!
Really enjoying reading about your trip.

John on

Really envious, really really envious.

Yellowtail is 3 for a tenner at the Adsa at the moment - I know it's tempting to return for such an offer but we can always buy some and put it in storage for you.

Mum Brenda on

No, I haven't been worrying about whether you ar eating well! I know what sort of meals you rustle up at home, and you both enjoy your food. Your menu is much more varied than mine!!--Carry on, it sounds good.What a lot of fabulous places you are seeing---The country looks wonderful! I'm certain you did the right thing by arranging this trip---You'll never forget it and you will both be so fit when you get back! Lots of love, Mum.

Gill on

As ever your blog is inspiring and the pictures are beautiful and I am seriously jealous!

Lizzi on

More brilliant pictures! James will be really jealous of seeing you relaxing in the hot springs. We've come back from Greece to a deeply depresssing wet, windy and dark UK! Without you guys to sort us out, we've had to book a skiing holiday by ourselves for Christmas. We're trying Bulgaria - with the option to hire a car an visit friends in Macedonia in there is no snow. Missing you both. Love Lizzi xxxx

Nick W on

Drove past this on the way back from Whitney this summer with the Hev - if I'd known it was so gorgeous I'd have stopped for sure.

Welcome to CA - you can check out out any time you like, but you can never leave

Apologies to the Eagles :)

Caroline on

"All the leaves are brown.... and the sky is grey..." You know the rest.

Were you dreaming of Buxton and winter climbing on Peak District grit (or lime) as you basked in those hot springs?? Just looking at the photos made me feel more relaxed.

Keep them coming.

Love C and G xxx

Linda Broadhurst on

Fantastic. Glad you are both well and enjoying your trip. The scenery looks fantastic. Only just seen the blog as I got back from Oz yesterday. Look forward to seeing future blogs!!

Allen on

Could do with a hot spring in Waterfall. It is -6 deg at the moment, maybe heading for -10 tonight.

Great pics. The campsites look pretty empty, do you have them to yourselves?

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