This Memorial Day we had a long 4 day weekend off from work so we decided to pack the Subie with 4 adults, 1 dog and a crapload of gear and zoomed the 12 hours to Bishop, California. It was myself, Paul, my sister Holly and her boyfriend Joe (who will also be staying with us for the summer), and lil brown dog Morgan of course. Also, please don’t let me forget, our Sherpa Courtney who also joined up for the trip. He drove himself and met us there and was sweet enough to stash 4 of our crashpads in his vehicle. Thanks Courtney!
Thursday evening we hit the road and made it to Barstow, CA around 3am. We were aiming to stay at some KOA we saw on a map but somehow stumbled upon this rundown campground in a ghost town. Really! Calico Ghost Town: It’s an old deserted silver mining town that was re-vamped for tourism back in the 50’s. As we were setting up camp (at 3am) and nice little old ranger drove up to our site. Tainted by the strict rules of Hueco, I automatically assumed he was here to a) yell at us for coming into the park so late, b) yell at us for letting Morgie run around without a leash on, and then c) yell at us cause we didn’t drop our money into some pre-pay drop box or something. However, to my surprise this kind man did none of the above. He actually commented on Morgan being a “fine looking animal” and said to don’t worry about paying him until the morning, after we get a good night’s rest. Ahh, this was going to be a good trip. 🙂
We awoke around 7am, ate breakfast and decided to have a look at the ghost town. Our campground fee included entry into the town, so we said why not. It was actually pretty cool. Then it was off to Bishop.
Got into Bishop late afternoon on Friday and chilled a bit in town. Then we headed up to the Buttermilks and found ourselves a stellar camping spot overlooking the Peabody boulders with the snow-covered mountains in the background. Absolutely beautiful.
The temps were rather mild – much cooler than usual for this time of year – and there was rumer of some high winds that were due to rip through town the next day. Well, the winds started picking up right around the time we were trying to cook dinner Fri night. Pleasant gusts at first….then kinda annoying gusts….then really annoying gusts. We all ate about a pound of dirt that night with dinner.
Exhausted from all the driving, and anxious to get away from the wind, we all hit the sack somewhat early. By this time, however, the wind was already ripping through the mountains like a bat out of hell. Now this wasn’t just the kind of wind that if you try hard enough, you’ll eventually fall asleep and tune it out. Oh no. Not this wind. Ooooohh no sir. As I am laying wide awake in my sleeping bag, trying to ignore the snow-globe of dust that was the inside of our tent and drowning out thoughts of how much dust could one actually breathe in before it made one sick, plugging my ears with my fingers to both a) gain some relief from the loud howls of wind and b) keep the dust out, and did I forget to mention getting wacked in the face every 10 minutes by the ceiling of the tent as it heaved and flopped and hoping, almost praying that the next gust wouldn’t tear a gaping hole through the flimsy nylon walls, …..I am wondering to myself….wow, this must be exactly like how it is on Everest!! Except just replace the snow with dirt!
After 3.5 hours of this nonsense, Paul said “THAT’S IT – we’re moving to the car.” I’m not sure how, but Paul and I and Morgan managed to squish into the back end of the Subie. Cramped? VERY. But boy, once we closed those doors, it was like being in an airtight vault. I never slet so sound.
The next morning we all awoke, brushed off the dirt, and made our way to the Happy Boulders. Our original plan had been to spend the entire trip up at the Buttermilks, but the wind had only temporarily let up and the temps were dropping. The Happies were calm and cozy. This was a first-time bouldering day for Holly and Joe and they did great! Noteworthy sends of the day go to Courtney on the highball classic Heavenly Path v1, Paul on Pappachubby v8, and Joe on Corner v0 (who loved it so much he repeated it!).
Sunday morning the group split up into our own mini-adventures: Myself, Paul and Morgan headed toward the Buttermilk boulders. Joe and Holly went up into the mountains in search of the white stuff (both are crazy addicted snowboarders/skiers). And Courtney also headed up in elevation to solo traverse this ridge he was eyeing.
For Paul and I, no big sends, but wow did we get on some classics boulder problems – including Saigon (v7) for me and The Checkerboard (v8) for Paul.
Joe and Holly found some of their beloved snow, and I’m sure rolled and frolicked in it to their heart’s content.
Courtney, however, got shut down on his adventure. Not by the ridge, but by a nasty headcold that was creeping upon him. Too much dirt in the lungs for that boy. Oh well, nothing a little hard whisky can’t fix (compliments of Courtney’s friend Linda who met up with us later in the day). Thanks to Linda and her whiskey, we all got a little wild as the night rolled on – cooking up massive amounts of fahitas and chillin’ to the good ‘ol Dr. Dre of course.
Monday morning we all rolled out of the tents, packed up and headed into town to have breakfast at the Bishop Grill. A quick stop for some Eric Schaat’s Bakery treats, big cups of coffee, and then we were back on the road headed home. All in all, a great trip indeed.
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