Wheelchair Rock Climbing
During our 4 day visit to the Alabama Hills we drove, walked,wheeled and photographed every square inch we could get into. The Alabama Hills is about 20 miles west of the town of Lone Pine in the eastern sierras and has been a favorite location for movie and television producers since the silent film days. The town of Lone Pine has seen more stars of the big screen than any other town in the United States, with the exception of Hollywood. The land is managed by the BLM, Bureau of Land Management, and short of developing new roads your exploration options are wide open. You can hike from one end to the other, climb up, climb down and climb over as many rocks as you want. Overnight camping is permitted without cost and campfires are allowed with a campfire permit, just use the existing rock ring fire rings. Some of the roads are marked for 4-wheel drive vehicles only and you can easily see why, but most can be traveled by car. One of the popular attractions are the natural arches of Alabama Hills, with Mobius Arch being the most popular. Unfortunately visiting the arches in a wheelchair is not possible, the trail is narrow and steep, and drops maybe a hundred feet from the trail-head within a short distance. It was a disappointment when we discovered the arches were off the photo list for us, but there are so many photo opportunities that we quickly found our attentions elsewhere. The Alabama Hills is a desert region and if you have read my other desert experiences you know that the desert sands are no place for a wheelchair, even the best of electric wheelchairs have a difficult time negotiating the deep soft sand. I found most of the roads fairly easy traveling as long as I followed the tire ruts and staying clear of the soft sandy sides of the roads. If you are a manual wheelchair user there are several great places where the ground is hard packed that with moderate effort you can experience some great views and excellent photo opportunities. So, what else is there to do in these there hills? Yep, you guessed it, rock climbing. It has been a long time since I could be found climbing and hiking through the rocky formations in the desert sun and I was not about to leave here without finding a rock or two to climb. Through all our searching this was the only rock we found that I could climb and if it wasn’t for that darn crack I would have gone clear to the top. As it was the view from there was gorgeous, I could see the entire backside of the hills towards Lone Pine and to the Panamint Mountains. I sat there for the longest time soaking up has much of my victory I could, thankful for the opportunity to climb a rock in the Alabama Hills of California. As always with each victory to one comes spoils to another, and this time my wife was the receptor of this award. Watching as I motored up this rock to this highest point was unnerving for her to say the least. We have this agreement between us, I will ignore all danger and she will worry for the both of us. Shaking and sweating she did manage to snap a few shots with her iPhone for prosperity. The Alabama Hills will always be on our favorite places to visit list in the spring and fall.