Weekenders: Riding the Eastern Sierra


Weekenders is an occasional series celebrating the potential of those magical days somewhere between Friday and Monday.

Waking up here is like waking up on a movie set. The set of the kind of film that runs close to three hours, with long expanses of small figures moving slowly through immense landscapes. Think mesmerizing quiet, with the occasional swelling of an orchestra. Simply put, waking up here is breathtaking. ‘Here’ is the eastern flank of California’s Sierra Nevada; a remote, rugged escarpment that separates much of California from the rest of the world to its east. And ‘here’ is where my adventure-partner, Leah Lind-White, myself, and our trail-loving pup, Tulah, found ourselves waking up, the morning after leaving a long week behind and following our headlights up 395 from Southern California.

It was a marvelous feeling, sticking our heads out the car the first morning and immediately feeling dwarfed by the peaks in the distance and the giant sandbox of rock and dust all around us. With no emails to check or meetings to make, the only limitation was how much water our packs could carry as we headed out to explore the harsh yet enticing landscape all around us.

Alabama Hills, California

On the right, Mount Whitney towers above the rest of the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet.

Another late-night push north, though on this one we found ourselves dustier and more relaxed than the previous nights’ flight from civilization. And another morning waking up in what felt like a different world, as we stepped out underneath a pine forest, softly dripping and steaming from overnight rain. Sliding around in powder that seems to have never seen moisture--as we had the day before--is a type of fun that we as current-Southern Californians are perhaps overly proficient in, but the perfect tackiness that awaited us in Mammoth is an undeniable joy for any mountain biker. In case we had somehow forgotten about the magic beneath Mount Whitney of the day before, a few perfect brown-pow turns instantly made all the hours of highway worth it.

Mammoth Lakes, California

Back in the office the next week, I pulled my camera out to begin editing imagery from the weekend. As I set it down, a small shower of Eastern Sierran loam fell to the desk below. I smiled.

Forty-eight hours–what would you do?

Previous installments of Weekenders:

Northern California