20170903: Hike to the Secret Ashram (Lone Pine, CA)

Leslie, Fanny, and I descended on Lone Pine, CA after a scorching hot 122F drive through Death Valley. We didn’t expect much from a place called Lone Pine, I guess, because we were surprised that the town was bigger than anticipated. It’s the gateway to Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney, and the southern end of the John Muir Trail. Like most others, that’s why we were here.

Ah, what to do with a spare day before starting our John Muir Trail journey? Hike, of course.

“It is the country of the bighorn, nesting place of buzzards, land of cloud-nourished trees and wild things that live without drink…”

Mary Austin, 1903, The Land of Little Rain

The guy at the local outdoors store had a recommendation for a short little walk, if we were interested in seeing an abandoned ashram? Yes please! But, he stressed, it’s top secret. Local knowledge only. Don’t tell anyone. Don’t advertise this. We promised not to disclose the location. He gave us directions to the trailhead (by Googling them – so much for top secret), and we set out excited to celebrate the start of our journey with something that seemed like it would be quite special.

Wikipedia: Traditionally, an ashram (sometimes also ashrama or ashramam) is a spiritual hermitage or a monastery in Indian religions.

The dirt/ sand road to the trailhead is heavily rutted. If your vehicle, like ours, cannot make it all the way up, park and walk. The hike itself is 2 miles round trip, so it won’t be much of a hardship to hike a little bit extra.

The secret is obviously out. As we returned to our vehicle there was a group of, no joking, 20 people walking up to the ashram. Google the directions; we did promise not to give the ashram’s location away.

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The Mojave-Kern is where the southern end of the Sierra Nevada mountain range meets the Mojave Desert. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous USA, in the background.

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