From The Theatrical To The Spiritual – Lone Pine, CA
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-yo Silver” the Lone Ranger! “
Those who know me well know that I’m a total sucker for a strapping man on a horse galloping across a wild west scene. After all what hapless maiden wouldn’t swoon under the awe of such masculinity, mask and all? Needless to say I loooove the old west movies and when we entered Lone Pine I realized I may have found my movie mecca.
Lone Pine is a small, dusty town nestled at the very cross-roads of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the desert. Adding to the visual mystery are the Alabama Hills, a surrealistic rocky terrain of granite and metamorphosed volcanic rock 90-200 million years old that sprinkle the area just west of town.
It’s this unique combination-> crazy rocks, majestic Sierra Mountains (including the highest peak in the continental US, Mt.Whitney) and dusty, desert earth that makes this the perfect movie setting, so perfect in fact that literally many hundreds have been filmed in the area from some of the earliest silent westerns in 1920 (“The Roundup“) to “talkies” in 1929, popular series (“Hopalong Cassidy“), large-scale productions in the late 1930’s (“Gunga Din“) all the way to modern Sci-Fi.
You can see all the glorious detail at the superb Film Museum in Lone Pine (a simply wonderful collection of western and film memorabilia) followed by which you can tip your hat and ride your faithful steed (or car, depending on preference) and peruse the original settings in the Alabama Hills (for a really fun ride check out how The Bayfield Bunch explored the area last year). The same gorgeous spot (known as “Movie Flats”) also allows free boondocking, by the way.
But it turns out Lone Pine has a spiritual side too. The beautiful countryside offers a unique stillness ideal for inner contemplation. You can’t help but feel the draw and, as it so happens, others have too. In 1928 Franklin Wolff and his wife Sherifa decided to take an inner journey. They hiked into the mountains and started writing about transcendental philosophy and mysticism. The spiritual connection was profound and led them to build an Ashram at ~8,000 feet above the Owens Valley to serve as a camp and retreat.
You can still visit this gorgeous spot with a tour to Granite View Drive followed by a dusty side-road and a 2-mile hike. The views are fabulous and the setting pristine. Once there you can find your spot and meditate on nature or let your mind wander to the inner workings of strapping masked men on steeds. Either way, Lone Pine is there for you and she sure doesn’t seem to mind which way you go…
P.S. There are literally weeks-worth of stuff to see & explore in the Lone Pine area, but unfortunately our visit was cut short by high-wind warnings of up to 70MPH gusts (yikes!). So, wheels away to the next spot for us….at least for now..