Tuesday, October 9

This was to be my third visit to Lone Pine area and I was looking forward to it.

Two previous trips, one in 1996, solo, and one in 2001 with my brother William had given me a taste for the area that kept me returning. This visit would reinforce and solidify my interest in the area and I am sure there will be many future visits.

Upon my first visit, the town of Lone Pine itself seemed to me to be one of the places that has and would continue to change little over the years. But, this was merely wishful thinking on my part. This time, the first thing I noticed when I strolled through town was the new McDonald's. I knew it was only a matter of time before one went in, but I still hated to see it.

So, one day, Lone Pine will also look like Anywhere USA with fast food joints, chain stores and motels being the dominant features. Hopefully things will move at a slower pace in the out lands.

Source: © Google Maps

This will give you an idea of the dramatic and variable landscape within a few miles of "downtown" Lone Pine.

Named after a solitary pine tree that once stood at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon, this small California town's roots stretch back into the Old West — and Hollywood's Wild West, too.

Back in the mid-1800's, the town of Lone Pine was founded to supply local miners with provisions. Farmer and ranchers followed soon after, and after that, the Carson Colorado Railroad pulled into town. Today, the only part of pre-1870 Lone Pine that's still standing is a portion of an old adobe wall that stands behind the local flower store, "La Florista". A few miles to the east, you can also wander among the decaying ghost-town ruins of Cerro Gordo, accessible by dirt road off Highway 136 (to Death Valley).

Source: SierraWeb

Source: © Google Maps

Click on these photos for a higher resolution.
They will be slow to load with a dial-up connection.

I arose around 6AM after what was to be my first and last decent night's sleep at the Trails Motel. I checked my email, did some web work and then headed out the door.

The Alabama Hills are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is responsible for managing 258 million acres of land--about one-eighth of the land in the United States--and approximately 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources. They are referred to by some as the "Bureau of Land Manglement" because their of the environmental policies or lack of them.

This was shot from behind the BLM sign and looks west towards Mt Whitney.

I pulled of the main roadway and onto Movie Flat Road. It is here you can first get a good idea of the size and extent of the formations which comprise the Alabama Hills.

How They Were Named
The unusual name Alabama Hills came about during the Civil War. In 1864 Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine discovered gold "in them thar hills." When they heard that a Confederate cruiser named the Alabama had burned, sunk or captured more than 60 Federal ships in less than two years they named their mining claims after the cruiser o celebrate. Before long the name applied to the whole area. Coincidentally, while Southerners were prospecting around Lone Pine, there were Union sympathizers 15 miles north near Independence. And when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the U.S.S. Kearsarge in 1864, the Independence people struck back. They not only named their mining claims "Kearsarge" but a mountain peak, a mountain pass, and a whole town as well.

Source:Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce

The Alabama Hills are widely know by movie buffs. They have been the back drop for many films and TV shows.

In fact, on this very morning I broke for a bite to eat and some channel surfing. When I reached AMC, there, on the screen were wagons and Indians and settlers and - the Alabama Hills. The movie was "How the West was Won".

Considering the soils and climate I was not surprised to see cactus as I explored the Hills. The may be small Barrel Cactus.

My idea of a great placed to camp. Made me whish I had been driving my car with camping gear rather than a rental.

This, and the photos which follow will give you some idea of the uniqueness of the formations and beauty of the surrounding area.


Here you can see one of the arches which are through-out the Alabama Hills.

More amazing formations with the Sierra Mountains in the background.

Another interesting arch.

If you want to see some beautiful photo of these arches you should take a look at the photos of Isabel Synnatschke. Although the commentary is in German, the photos speak for themselves.

My crude attempt to capture the beauty of the formations and mountains.

One could spend many days wandering amongst these hills.




This shot, taken from Whitney Portal Road, is looking east to the Alabama Hills, Owens Dry Lake and Valley, as well as the Inyo Mountains.

Another nice view of the Valley and Mountains.

The interpretive sign, with the nearly always presents bullet holes, gives and overview of the history and geology of the Alabama Hills.

Mount Whitney just as you approach the Whitney Portal Parking area.

Some people would say this sign indicates a bear problem. Actually, it is a people problem. Leaving food in camping areas, cars and open trash containers will quickly get bears in the habit of feeding in such areas. They then become "problem" bears witch have to be relocated or killed.

Parked cars with food in them have had windows broken out of them when bears try to get at the food. There was another sign posted in the parking area stating cars with food left in them were subject to ticketing/towing.

I parked and walked around a bit but left when I heard the constant drone of a power generator being used to supply electricity to a small cafe. I wonder how far up the mountain this obnoxious sound could be heard. So much or silence and solitude.

On the drive back down to the valley I stopped and took a couple shots of the some interesting geologic features.

This photo, and one above, according to Geologist Geary Schindel, show an intrusion of Silicon dioxide (SiO2).

This commonly occurs after the formation of the rock when SiO2 rich groundwaters enter open fractures or from direct igneous intrusions.

Source: Geary Schindel

Here is a bit more from Dana of AmateurGeologist.com:

The pictures you have are of the Granodiorite of the Lone Pine Creek which is part of the Whitney Intrusive Suite. The suite is around 83-85 million years old. The same general age is true for the Alabama Hills Granite.

The Whitney Intrusive Suite is granodiorite... the salt and pepper granitic rock. The Granodiorite of the Lone Pine Creek is more mafic, containing more of the darker biotite and hornblende minerals than the other members of the suite. Think of the suite as a blob of molten rock floating up from below since it's much hotter than the surrounding rock. The core of a volcano which in fact is what the Sierra are. The blob surged 3 major times. The first time was the Granodiorite of the Lone Pine Creek which was then pushed aside like the skin of a balloon when the Paradise Granodiorite floated up both were pushed aside when the Whitney Granodiorite pushed in.

We speak of granite as in the Sierra Nevada are granite mountains. It is geological appropriate to refer to them as granitic rock as granite is a specific type of granitic rock. Granite has more quartz than granodiorite and less of the mafic minerals.

The Alabama Hills Granite is actual granite; monzogranite. It has coarser mineral grains than the Whitney Intrusive Suite granodiorite though the grains are not really in crystalline shape. The coarser grains make it easier for the infrequent rains to erode the rock. Flat surfaces weather slowly but sharp edges erode more quickly since there are more sides to attack. The boulders tend to weather into round surfaces which are basically flat with no edges.

The smaller grains of the granodiorite don't weather out as quickly as the coarser grains of the AH granite.


Below are links to some interesting area maps.



Day 21 - FINIS

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