The following day we rented skis and hit the mountain. High wind and thin snow kept the summit closed, so we zoomed down the skittery ice in the middle of the mountain, dodging fumaroles and errant snowboarders. The snow as almost Australian in quantity, which I suppose is good training for global warming. Ordinary black runs were now nearly filled with baby christmas trees, and we had an incredible time. That evening we consumed Avogadro's number of calories (subject to experimental error), contemplated a hot tub, and went to sleep.
Sunday was perfect, sunny, clear, and still. The summit was opened and we headed for our destiny. An incredibly steep, icy run called cornice was the scene of perhaps half a dozen ongoing breakups and sundry relationship crises, so we expertly glissaded past and traversed to a much nicer looking run, called drop out chutes, where 'the best snow on the mountain' hid from the sun between parallel rows of jagged rhyodacite. Below us stretched the whole mountain and nearly 11000 feet of atmosphere. I took a deep breath and linked turn after turn, applying the technique as best I could remember, and occasionally picking up pieces of former attempts to return to their owners down the hill. Later, we headed to the western edge of the mountain for some (slow) work on bumps and between trees, before traversing back to the lodge and once again attempting to bridge the caloric abyss. That evening we decided to sleep instead of trying to drive back and, after a couple of hours of wit and wordplay, I eventually did manage to align the springs of the fold out mattress with my 10 principle chakras and pass out.
The following day we piled into the car and shot off down the 395, one of my favourite roads in the world. When I first drove part of it years ago it seemed an interminable length of tar with bad drivers and terrible scenery. Now, the Sierras spike up on the east and the White Mountains on the left, I am the bad driver, and good restaurants ping past at alarming speed. We stopped at the Fossil Falls and clambered about, crashing drones and experimenting with bouldering technique. Soon enough we were heading back through the Mojave (now green from the rain) and into LA, for another splendid week of teaching and unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Or compiler warnings, at any rate.
Back at camp, we set up tents and made dinner - an interesting exercise given a (known) lack of running water or tables. I consumed a satisfying quantity of stew, patched up a cut finger, and helped orchestrate strategic repacking of supplies for the following day. We stowed all within the vehicles and went to walk the canyon once more, this time at night. Around one bend we saw a flickering red light, only to discover some other campers enjoying a fire at the bottom of the canyon! Around the next corner we killed the lamps and watched the stars, including a very bright Jupiter and a few meteors.
I returned to camp and snuggled down under the stars wrapped in a thoroughly inadequate sleeping bag, and shivered my way through the clear, cool night. Which was all the better since the following day we had to get up EARLY, pack, eat, and get on the road.
First up was the Blair Valley pictographs. A short walk revealed a boulder with about a dozen prominent red symbols, meaning unknown. The rock face on which the symbols was painted was sheltered from rain and seemed to have a strong magnetic signature. We drove on down the Vallecito valley, past Agua Caliente, and then on a network of unnecessarily technical gravel roads to the Goat Canyon Trestle trailhead. We ate lunch and set off up the hill. The trail wound up a canyon and valley to a series of plateaus and down the other side to a gigantic wooden trestle. Unfortunately, we reached our turnaround time just as the trestle remained out of sight around the next corner. In future, we will need more time to conquer that hill, or perhaps a less difficult one. We rock hopped back down the hill (all 2400 vertical feet of it), through a dry waterfall and palm grove, before jumping back into the cars and getting out before the sun set. We drove up the road to the camp ground at Mountain Palm Springs where, for once, I did not miss the turn (GPS is too easy!). As night fell we set up camp, cooked pasta, ate food, told stories, lased stars, and admired the splendid surroundings.
D, W, A, and I left the fire and followed the relatively firm dune ridges inwards and higher until at last we were at the bottom of the 680 foot (200m) high peak. We started up the slip face, with extremely tiring and uncertain footing until at last we achieved the summit. The Eureka dunes are known to 'boom', where collapsing sand creates a deep and sustained almost musical note.