CA – Alabama Hills – Geocaching for Arches

Alabama Hills is probably most well known for it’s leading role in many films.  As for me, I was there for the views and geology. 

To make my exploration a bit more more fun, a friend recommended the booklet, Arches of the Alabama Hills by Orlyn Fordham, which I found at Lone Pine’s outdoor store, Elevation Climbing. The author provides an overview map, suggested itineraries, and for each of the 72 arches detailed descriptions, photos, and GPS coordinates.

The easiest to find arches are along the Arch Trail, a popular and well marked short loop trail. It’s always rewarding when geocaching, to warm up with a successful find!

Mobius Arch

Lathe Arch

The author rated many of the arches on a scale of 1 (small, difficult to locate, common, non-descript appearance) to 5 (large, good view, very accessible, very photographic, appealing). As a Cherry Picker, of course I wanted to start with the best of the best.

Whitney Portal Arch

This was the view I was hunting. 

After clambering around on many rocks trying to obtain this view with 100% failure, I dejectedly headed back to my car. Yes, I found the arch, but I wanted the view. So . . . reaching for the booklet to find my next destination, I noticed the last sentence in the description, “an aluminum ladder has been left at the arch to get in position to take an interesting picture from the east with Mt Whitney in the background.” Well . . . I’d say the joke was on me for not reading the entire description. Of course, the ladder was long gone. While creating the links for this post, I noticed the current version of the booklet is 2013, the one I had was 2011. Wonder if this description has been updated? Hmmm. So a tip to the wise, if you want the photo, bring a ladder or rope!

Heart Arch

By far the Heart Arch was my favorite. The only disappointment was that the heart lost it’s shape as you neared the arch and thus no cool photo looking at some distant object framed with a <3.

Eye of Alabama Arch

Stevenson Arch 

Bikini Top Arch 

Extra Credit:

Scarlet Milk-Vetch

Baseball Barrel Cactus 

Possibly a Red-Tailed Hawk

Sure can’t complain about waking up to this view. 

Date(s) Hiked: 2/24-25/16

Road Trip Day(s) #5-6

Jan’s Tips:

  • I used my mapping app, Trimble Outdoor Navigator, to locate the arches. This app, like most others, has a place to enter GPS coordinates. The trick is finding the correct format for the provided coordinates. There are also converters available online if your app doesn’t provide for the correct type of entry.
  • Might as well stick to the Alabama Hills theme and partake in some of the best food around at the Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine. It gets an A+ rating from me for customer service, prices, outstanding quality and variety.
  • Dispersed camping is permitted in Alabama Hills. There are plenty of other less primitive camping and lodging opportunities nearby.
  • Showers are available for $5 at the Whitney Portal Hostel.
  • Link to more Jan Jaunts in the Sierra

Resources:

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