Sierra Solo


gold: one thing I wasn't looking for this weekend

This weekend I decided to do something I’d never done before. I rented a ZipCar (settled for a Mazda3) and set out on a 550 mile solo adventure. There were several reasons I wanted to go out and travel alone. After a week full of ups and downs, I needed to get away to collect my thoughts.  I also wanted to prove to myself that I could be comfortable traveling and being alone.

The weekend was a success. I explored my heart out, saw some amazing things, learned a lot, found solitude, and proved to myself that I can have fun without anyone but myself.

My itinerary was nearly perfect. I drove to Jamestown on Friday night via a pit stop at In and Out in Manteca for dinner. I stayed at the first of two seedy weekend motels, the Railtown Motel.

Saturday morning I had biscuits and gravy for breakfast at a shop on Main Street and popped in and out of a few antique shops before hitting the road to continue my travels. I spent the afternoon crossing the Sierra Nevada and the Sonora Pass en route to my primary destination of the day, the ghost town of Bodie, on the far east side of the Sierra, 6 miles from the Nevada border.

I soaked up the granite beauty of the Sierra and awed over the massive amounts of snow still covering the mountains.

The beautiful Sierra Nevada

The beautiful Sierra Nevada

I stopped off in Bridgeport and checked into seedy weekend motel #2, the Redwood Motel, grabbed a sandwich at a local convenient shop, and forged on to Bodie.

I arrived at Bodie at about 3 PM and spent 3 hours exploring the old gold rush ghost town. During its heyday, Bodie boasted 10,000 residents. Peering into windows of old buildings dating back to the late 1800s, it appeared as if life was frozen in time. Floral print wallpaper hung on the walls, dining room tables set for dinner, chalk boards in the school house featuring upcoming lesson plans. I kept getting lost trying to imagine what life must have been like here. It was an amazing and unique place.

Welcome to Bodie

The buildings still standing in Bodie represent only 5 percent of what existed at the height of the gold rush

With several hours of sun still above the horizon, I decided to continue my explorations south to Mono Lake, one of the oldest and saltiest lakes in the world. I poked around at a few parks and roadside overlooks until I finally made it down to the South Tufa area, where the most picturesque tufa limestone formations can be viewed. Fun fact: About 85 percent of California’s seagull population nests at Mono Lake.

South Tufas at Mono Lake

South Tufas at Mono Lake

On my way back to Bridgeport I stopped at the famous Mobil Station in Lee Vining for dinner at the Woah Nellie Deli. I got a t-shirt.  


After taking a dip in cold Green Lake, look at all the snow, melting right into the lake!

Sunday morning I awoke early, enjoyed breakfast on the patio of the Hay’s Street Cafe and set out for a 6.2 mile (round trip) hike to Green Lake – alpine lake situated at 8,900 feet – in just over an hour. I scrambled over boulders along the water’s edge before deciding to take a quick dip. The water was freezing and it didn’t take long for me to hop out, get dressed and start jogging back down the trail. It was time for the long drive back to reality.

There isn’t much I’d change about the trip. I had good meals at local joints, saw new and beautiful sights, and found much needed peace and quiet.

More photos on Flickr.

7 responses to “Sierra Solo

  1. David Christensen

    Very cool Derek! And thanks for sharing, I love this stuff. -DC10

  2. When I heard you were taking a solo hike, I was nervous for your buddy. Glad you enjoyed your trip – setting your own agenda is great fun and coming back in one piece is even better!

  3. Very cool, I love the solo adventure idea – I think I might do it the next time hubby is on a trip. The photos look great. I am jealous about the biscuits and gravy!

  4. What an awesome trip. Bodie sounds so fascinating. Definitely on my list of places to see now. Glad you had a great weekend all solo 🙂

  5. so proud of you.

  6. Sounds like it was a great plan. Love the name of the one motel….Rail…..

  7. Good job Derek. We all need time by ourselves once in awhile. Love the pioctures.

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