From the moment the passes close each fall, I have serious Eastern Sierra withdrawals. Getting from the Bay Area to the “East Side” in the winter involves a long and circuitous route, undoable in a weekend. Even when the passes are open, I expect a minimum of a five hour drive just to get over the mountains to the other side. The East Side is my favorite place in California and every time I visit I am in awe at the beauty, history, and opportunity for adventure that surrounds me. The 395 corridor from Bridgeport to Ridgecrest offers enough activities to keep a curious explorer and outdoor nut busy for ten lifetimes.
The Eastern Sierra is the best point of access to my favorite backpacking terrain – trail heads that start at 9000+ feet and spit you straight into the granite wilderness of the High Sierra. The western slope of the Sierra is gradual and forest covered, but the east slope is steep and dramatic, with sharp granite peaks over 14,000 feet with high desert terrain at their feet. While I’ve always been in awe of the scenery around me when driving through, and dabbled around some of the famous rock climbing areas, it was really last year that I started exploring with the help of some 4×4 geocaching friends. Those two trips really opened my eyes to all of the unique things to do along the east slopes of the Sierra.