~ Alabama Hills
and Mount Whitney ~

I went to see Mount Whitney, but what I really wanted to see were the Alabama Hills. I didn't know that until I got there. Once again on the recommendation of my friend, Linda, I was treated to some awesome sights.

In my attempts to see the highest point in the Lower 48, I drove the Whitney Portal Road up a mountain to somewhere around 8,000 feet. Along the way I encountered several other travelers and asked them which peak was Mount Whitney. Three groups on the road, all driving vehicles with California tags, seven people total and not one spoke enough English to understand what I was asking. Nor did they speak Spanish (the second language of California). No, all seven of these people spoke languages completely foreign to me (Eastern European for two of the groups and some Middle Eastern language for the other) and not one of them could point out Mount Whitney. They were as much in the dark as I was.

How did I finally learn of the location of Mount Whitney? When I returned to Lone Pine, I asked a woman walking down the street, if she was local. She was and she pointed out Whitney and the Needles, which are a dead giveaway to the peak's location. As you will see in the photos. She also identified several other peaks, which are lost to my memory. As you will also see, I had already photographed Mount Whitney several times without a clue that is was what it was.

The jumble of rocks in the photos below is known as the Alabama Hills. Though geographically considered a range of hills, geologically they are a part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and were formed by the same forces. The Hills are managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as Alabama Hills Recreation Area. They are a protected habitat and for public enjoyment.

The Alabama Hills were named for CSS Alabama. When news of the Confederate warship's exploits reached prospectors in California sympathetic to the American Civil War Confederates, they named many mining claims after the ship, and then the name came to be applied to the entire range. Then, when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of Normandy by USS Kearsarge in 1864, prospectors sympathetic to the North named a mining district, a mountain pass, a mountain peak, and a town after the Kearsarge.

The Sierra Nevadas and Alabama Hills

A Ranch. Mount Whitney is just left of center background. It is farther away so appears smaller than some of the other peaks. The tallest in this photo is Lone Pine Peak. The Alabama Hils are in between the ranch and the mountains.

Although, I didn't know it at the time Mount Whitney is in the photo on the left. I was just taking photos of big mountains. My first shot of the Alabama Hills is on the right

Another not known shot of Mount Whitney

More Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills panorama

I could easily invision Hopalong Cassidy having a shoot out with Black Bart, until somehow (known only to the makers of movies) Hoppy gets behind Bart, jumps on him from one of those rocks and beats him into submission. Then off to the hoosegow for Bart.

It is a really surreal landscape

Also not Mount Whitney

Movie Flats
Since 1920, hundreds of movies and TV episodes, including Gunga Din, How The West Was Won, Khyber Rifles, Bad Day at Black Rock, Bengal Lancers and High Sierra along with The Lone Ranger and Bonanza with such stars as Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, Glenn Ford, Cary Grant, Clint Eastwood and Humphrey Bogart have been filmed in these rugged Alabama Hills with their majestic Sierra Nevada background. The two photos above and the one below show parts of Movie Flats.

People do live out here

The Mountain Climb

The Mount Whitney Portal Road leads high into the mountains. I don't know if it actually reaches Mount Whitney, because I turned around somewhere over 7,000 feet, as I wanted to get to Death Valley National Park that day.

Did not see a bear or any four-legged wildlife for that matter

I was getting pretty well up there. The Alabama Hills run across the center of the photo on the left with the Inyo Mountain Range in the background. On the right is a zoom in shot of part of the Hills and the road I took up into the mountains.

South end of the Hills and Owens Valley

Hard to imagine a flood this high up, but it happens

Me, taken by a young couple, who spoke very little English. I took their photo for them also. On the right another part of Owens Valley.

Part of the Alabama Hills

More of the Hills, the Valley and the Portal Road

I was still going up

Probably my best shot of Mount Whitney, but I didn't know it, yet

Mount Whitney again peeking over that saddle on the right

Some rental cabins in the Sierra Nevada across a huge canyon from where I was

Hairpin curve on the way down

The young couple was still there
Back in the Alabama Hills

Lone Pine

On the right is a photo taken of Mount Whitney when I knew what I was looking at

Music is "Whispers"

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