I think I’ve mentioned before that we once lived in Lone Pine, at the foot of Mt. Whitney, tallest peak in the contiguous United States. Our “mountain days” were different from any other living experience, before or since. I was reminded of those days this week because I’ve been scanning some Polaroid pictures from that time.
We began our life in Lone Pine with a classified ad. We were living in Fresno at the time and Gary was working as a respiratory therapist. The ad said, “Live and work in the shadow of Mt. Whitney”. That was enough to prompt a search for the atlas. Where in the world was Mt. Whitney?
As far as we were concerned it turned out to be on the other side of the world. Mt. Whitney is one of those places you “can’t get to from here”. It took several hours for us to drive south and then north again to reach our destination. And we also found out that Mt. Whitney is above a desert valley, not the lush forest we had imagined. The high desert is a beautiful, but unforgiving place that is hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. Hardly a drop of rain fell from April to September.
Because most of the land around Lone Pine belongs to the state, privately owned property is scarce. Once Gary accepted the job, we were unsure of where we could actually live. We ended up in a trailer behind a gas station, only to be rudely informed a week later that the person we thought was the owner had sub-let the place without permission. We finally settled into a converted garage behind another house. It was cramped- I could touch both walls of the kitchen at the same time- but it had a small yard and it wasn’t that different from a dozen tiny homes and trailers surrounding it. There were as many as three homes on some lots!
Lone Pine is also rather isolated from other towns. We had to drive for an hour to do any major shopping. There was a grocery store in town, but the prices were geared to the tourist trade. So was everything else. Lone Pine had a small population, but on the weekends you couldn’t even cross the street for the out-of-town traffic. And someone will probably call me a liar, but we always bought gas before Friday, when the price went up by at least three cents a gallon.
I could talk for hours about Lone Pine. We learned so much there, and had so many experiences. When I write down my memories for a book, the Lone Pine chapter will be a lengthy one. But for today, I will leave you with the photos that prompted this little trip down memory lane. Gary and I used to be quite active in the outdoors. He started out that way and dragged me along until I began to enjoy it! Anyway, these are some photos of one of our climbs. We only made it to 11,000 feet that day, because despite the fact that it was July, the ice beyond that required equipment we didn’t have with us. Anyway, the next time Gary tells you one of his “tall tales” about mountain climbing, you’d better believe him. I have more photos of other adventures. We really did those things even though my older, painful body has trouble remembering why!