Inyo National Forest
I suggested a snowshoe up to the Ashram to Bernard and now we have collected a group to do it, although the snow is not cooperating. That is okay, this jagged valley is probably not a place one would want to be in heavy snow. We park in a turnout a little before the road starts to flirt heavily with a cliff and start our hike along it. The creek that is a dry wash where we crossed to get here is noisy and invisible in its deep groove below us. The gash of this valley and the flat of Owens behind us is quite a contrast.
|Starting off somewhere above Tuttle Creek which slices the bottom of a large glacial valley.|
|Looking back on Owens Valley.|
|I see faces in the rocks, or at least a head on the ridge.|
We continue on up the road. The canyon closes in around us. The water still teases us below. There are very few places where it can be seen as it rushes the other way.
|The way forward is easy to find.|
|Trying to see down into Tuttle Creek.|
There is more parking at the end of the road. From here, we have our first look at the stone building up on the canyon wall. It sits at the upper edge of the densest trees noticed most by the black square of a window.
|Built of the native stone, it is quite a challenge to spot the Ashram from far off.|
The blocks to keep people from continuing up the old road into the John Muir Wilderness are rather compromised, but it quickly protects itself. The dirt shows evidence of a dirt bike that was rude enough to try, but it gives up quickly. Here, where it flirts with the cliff, it becomes quite narrow. It is only sufficient as a footbed.
|Coming level with some of the high cliff walls on the other side of the canyon.|
|More rock face above the trail on this side.|
The canyon splits. I can hear the rush of water from both the creek and tributary, but still can get get no sight of it. There was one spot further down. Across the canyon, the Ashram presides over this confluence. The trail turns to stay along Tuttle Creek and eventually cross it.
|The canyon with the Ashram sitting high above some cliffs.|
|Turning the corner, the northeastern slopes on Mount Langley come into view.|
We continue climbing, but the canyon comes up to meet us quickly enough. First, we are in with the willows. Then, we turn to find the creek crossing. An old bridge of concrete, rails, and wood crosses the bulk of the creek water, but plenty is passing along the side. This bridge was probably a bit more once. On the far side, we are in among big trees for the first time.
|The creek crossing via the old bridge.|
|Suddenly in the forest.|
|Coming upon the Ashram.|
It is not far through the trees to the Ashram. The trail splits for a staircase of sorts to access the south side and a much more gradual trail that loops around to the north side. The building is in the shape of a balanced cross. There are multiple doorways for entry and windows look out most the other walls. We take the tour of altar and fireplace and everything in between.
|One of the four doorways.|
|The fireplace is built into the southwest inner corner, pushing one door from this position.|
|The view down to the Alabama Hills from the east window.|
|The stone altar sits in the north with the only windowless wall behind.|
|Another way out.|
The trail up the steps continues further up to a shed. A sketchy path continues further climbing steeply. We are not out for a rock scramble and leave that for others. From there, I can see waterfalls cutting through the snow.
|Above, there is a corrugated iron shed. It holds roofing materials.|
|A good flow of water cascades down from the springs up the canyon.|
|The view on up the other canyon.|
We take our time, but eventually head back.
|Another look at the cliffs on the far side of the canyon.|
|Leaving the canyon again.|
|The willows, red with bud, serve as a proxy for the creek vanishing into the dirt as it heads for the Alabama Hills.|
©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 21 Mar 2016