We left Friday morning with our donuts and coffee in hand. Yes, he got a caramel latte, even though we had four hours of driving before our first stop. We also had Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on tape, so life was good.
The hot air and warm breezes caressed our skin when we climbed out of the car in Lone Pine. Kobe read the No Trace Left Behind placards at the ranger station so he could better appreciate his responsibilities and privilege in visiting wild places. We then walked around the topographical map so he could better understand the majestic landscape around us. After looking through the telescope at Mt. Whitney’s impressive height, he decided a drive up closer was in order.
First we stopped at the climbing store so Kobe could get four feet of rope to learn knots as we drove up Whitney Portal. Spring thaw made a gorgeous waterfall and we both delighted in the pine forest scent.
Next we crossed the valley to the White Mountains and the Bristlecone National Forest. At 9,000 feet elevation, Kobe, who is prone to altitude sickness, had to stop occasionally while we walked around the 4,000-year-old trees with their twisted trunks and smooth-looking bark. He talks so openly during these one on one times. I rubbed his head to prolong the moment while he shared his thoughts.
We decided to brave a different route down the mountain, rather than the curvy road we had taken up. I sort of ignored the 4-Wheel Drive only sign, putting my faith in all wheel drive. Famous last thoughts! The 11-mile road steep descent was covered in rocks that defied traction, sharp hair-pin turns and sheer cliffs. It’s an adventure we said, bravely. “Yeah, the kind that’s best after you arrive safely,” Kobe added. We played Red Hot Chili Peppers to distract us, but after the scent of our brakes being overworked permeated the air, I threw it into first gear and we surrendered to the stress and white-knuckled it in silence.
Finally it leveled out, but the adventure was not over. Six creeks turned into puddles intersected the road. We splashed through whooping it up as we went. But honestly, I was never so glad to drive on pavement!
As the sun faded we arrived at our campsite in Mammoth Mountain. Kobe started the fire while I set up the tent. We ate our s’mores under a waxing moon and towering pine trees. Day one of the adventure at its end.
I have a work meeting in one hour. So for the first time ever, I washed my car of its well-earned dirt within 24 hours of arriving home. And now I must wash out the woodsmoke from my hair. But I will take time to unravel the sweet memories of the rest of this adventure.