California is a beautiful state. Drive in any direction for a few hours and you’re bound to see some epic nature. Drive several hours and you’re likely to pass through several entirely different ecosystems. This past weekend was full of exploring—something I need to take advantage of way more often.
Friday evening and Saturday morning were spent mushing. I was nervous to see how the newly repaired dog cart would hold up, but it did just fine. The dogs were on fire Friday evening after having a few days off. Saturday morning was a different story. We went out to Holcomb Valley and tried some new trails. It ended up being mostly slow-going, with a lot of uphill and washed out trails. The team still did great, don’t get me wrong, they were just keeping things steady instead of exploding out onto the trail. (Probably for the best when exploring new routes and navigating giant ice-craters)
Once the dogs were thoroughly exhausted, Will and I went out for a short but strenuous hike up to Castle Rock. This is one of the more popular trails in Big Bear, but we managed to hike beyond the flatlander chaos and found some pretty solid viewpoints. Hiking in early spring was always a bummer on the east coast; you’re so eager to get outside, but everything is muddy and grey and brown. There’s some mud from snowmelt out here, but everything is vibrant conifer green and red, and trails dry out quick.
On Sunday I had planned to hunker down and figure out some self-promotion. I’ve set up a Patreon for dog mushing and a Kofi for art. The thing is, I don’t feel like a “real” musher, worthy of collecting money from people to pursue this hobby. And I don’t feel like a good enough artist to accept donations for drawing, either. I’m putting a pin in these ideas, until I figure out something that actually makes me feel good. (If anyone has suggestions, feel free to message me)
I had the urge to detach from both my computer and Big Bear, so we took a day trip north. After researching mountains (as one does), I learned that Mt. Whitney—the tallest peak in the lower 48—was just over three hours away. I have zero interest in climbing mountains, let me be clear. I am no mountaineer. Still, I love seeing mountains, and decided the tallest peak in the continental United States was worth a day of driving.
And she sure was.
Mt. Whitney is listed as being part of Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest. Except you can’t really get a good look at the peak from entering these parks. Apparently, the place to go is a tiny town called Lone Pine. We drove up the eastern side of the Sierras, which is primarily vast desert landscapes, to reach this little portal town.
The dogs came along for the ride, even though the majority of it was spent in their van crates. We could have left them crated at home, but this way, they got a brief run and water break midway through the day. (And a chicken nugget each, for being such good sports)
Of course, I couldn't miss out on these photo ops.
After the cross-country trip, they’re all pretty much pros at travel. I say “pretty much” because Hubble managed to pee in his crate roughly 10 minutes away from home. He alerted us earlier on when he had to go, and we pulled over. Not so much the second time.
Urine aside, this weekend’s adventures were a nice reminder that there’s a lot to explore while I’m out here. Even if California doesn’t end up being home forever (will there even be such a place? I guess the dirt, when I’m dead), I’ll make the most of big nature while I’m out here.