11 04 2010

On Friday we decided to take it easy in the morning and catch up on some laundry and after pillaging the breakfast bar we visited a museum in Laws just north of Bishop. The museum contained a large collection of buildings, equipment and trains all from the turn of the century and built during the mining boom in the area. We walked around for a while before meeting one of the men who restores some of the equipment. He let us inside one of the displays where he started a rock crusher and let us crush some stones. He and I also talked shop for a litlle bit about electric motors, equipment and engines. 

Laws Rail Depot, California


Laws and the Sierra


Justyna Crushing Rocks


Narrow Guage Train In Laws


From there we visited the Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop which displayed prints from one of my favorite photographers Galen Rowell. Galen was a climber as well as a National Geographic Photographer who took some of the most amazing photos of the Sierras as well as the rest of the world including Tibet, the Himalaya, Patagonia and Antarctica. Unfortunately he tragically died in a plane crash along with his wife. 

From Bishop we returned to the Alabama hills to do some more climbing. Justyna had  mentioned some interest in leading a climb the day before so I did some research and found an area where she might be able to attempt a relatively safe first lead. We eventually settled on an area with a variety routes with a range of difficulties called the Lost Eye To The Moon. I led a couple of routes and Justyna followed to get warmed up. She then said she was ready to take a turn on Lead. We went over a few last-minute tips and she tied in to the sharp end. She started  up the route called Rootin Tootin Rhythm and was climbing with absolute control and focus. The climb was on a slab of rock at about a 65 degree angle which had very few holds and relied mostly on friction to get up it.  She clipped a bolt every 10 feet or so and moved upward with determination until she eventually reached the safety of the anchor at about 80 feet. Words cannot describe how proud of her I was not only that she had chosen to try the climb on lead but that she had done it so well. We are also now a little bit closer as we have both experienced a challenge like this that few others have chosen to take on. To top this off after lowering back down to the ground she decided to try the slightly harder route next to it called Rhythm On The Range. Again she just tied in and took to the rock with absolute control and confidence even given the insecure nature of the climb. Again I was so absolutely proud of her, who can ask for more in a wife??? 

Justyna On Lead For The First Time


Justyna At The Anchor After A Succesful Climb


Already Looking For A Harder Route


Almost At The Top Of Her Second Lead


After this we climbed some more even doing a spicy two pitch route that brought us to the top of a pinnacle with beautiful views of the Sierras to the west and the Alabama Hills to the east. 

On Top Of The Pinnacle


Enjoying The Views From The Top


We then decided to try to get some mileage in as we where planning on visiting Sequoia National Park on Saturday and it was over a five-hour drive despite being located only 20 miles to the west as the crow flies. We drove until around 10PM and finally got to a hotel in Bakersfield California where after a bit of a battle through a night check in window we got a room. 

I woke on Saturday feeling a bit off and really tired and hoped it was just allergies. It has been reported that this has been one of the worst allergy seasons in recent memory. We continued our drive to Sequoia National park,  finally ascending up to the Land of the Giant Forest with its enormous Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. These trees are enormous reaching over 300 feet tall and some growing over 40′ in diameter. Some of the mature trees are thousands of years old and the largest example named General Sherman is the largest living thing on earth. There is something awe-inspiring about wandering through this land of giants. There was over 5 feet of snow on the ground adding to the magical feeling of this rare and special place. 

A Giant Seqouia


Hanging Out Among Giants


Feeling A Bit Small


Wandering Among Giants


From Sequoia National Park we continued into Kings Canyon National Park. This is the second largest roadless tract of land in the park system in the lower 48. Consequently there is not much to see while driving except for miles and miles of pristine forests. I really hope to return to this area and explore one day. 

True Wilderness


 By the time we left the parks I really was feeling worn down and we decided not to camp and instead get a room in Fresno where I went immediately to bed. I woke this morning feeling much better and hope that it was just allergies or that I needed to catch up on some rest. Today we are off to see my Cousin and his family in Santa Clara just south of San Francisco.




2 responses

12 04 2010
Mom and Dad and Maggie

Justyna, you are just amazing. Andrew is justly proud of you and your accomplishments. Your picture at the summit says it all. Love to you both-stay safe and tell Steven Happy Birthday April 13th if you are still there. Love M,D,M

11 04 2010
Craig and Karen Richey

I am thinking it is Steven and Heidi that you are visiting. Give them and the kids a hug for us.
Your photos of the “giants” were inspiring. Hope I get to see them for myself one try.
Be safe.

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