First Times (California ’93)

My little series with  pictures from 25 years ago continues with my first hiking trip in California. The idea was to drive up to the trail head of White Mountain Peak, and hike the dirt road to the peak.


We drove through Yosemite at night (which I hadn’t seen before) and camped at my first hot spring in Owen’s Valley. Soaking in warm water while around you everything freezes and the sky is full of shooting stars convinced me that this had been a good idea. We made it past the Bristlecone Pine Trees, but the car didn’t make it to the trail head (my first car break down).


We didn’t give up though but continued on foot. The landscape up there (above 10,000 feet) is high elevation desert. 


After two hours or so we reached the observatory and the actual trailhead. Hiking appears very easy: You just follow the dirt road.


What is not so easy, however, is the high elevation. Two of use got altitude sickness, including myself (first time!). That was interesting. It started off with gradually worsening headache.


After a while, my vision got blurry, and me and the other victim turned back to the observatory. While we waited for the two others to return from the summit, we chatted with the friendly personnel. By 10pm, the two other hikers had returned, and we were lucky to hitch a ride on a pickup truck back to our car.

The next morning we stopped for my first visit at Mono Lake.




Methuselah Trail

The White Mountain area in the eastern Sierras is home to the Great Basin Bristlecone Pines. The arid climate and high altitude limits the growth periods of the pines to a mere two weeks per year.


So they grow slowly, and get very old. Some of them are over 4,000 years old, making them the oldest trees on the planet.


We humans don’t think in these time spans. We occasionally consider the next year, and rarely the next decade.


The age of the cathedral builders is gone, who knew they would not live to see their work finished.
What would we do with so much time? Would we plan ahead and mold the future, or would we just keep adapting and contorting?


Maybe we should develop a better sense of being content with what we have.