The Great Outdoors 2: Eastern Sierras and Death Valley

Sophie Hikes, Sophie, Viterbi Life 0 Comments

Last year I wrote about some of my camping trips, and I want to update you on more awesome outdoor adventures! Since I last wrote, I’ve been snowshoeing in the Sierras, canyoneering in Death Valley, hiking in Yosemite, and climbing in Joshua Tree. USC really is in an amazing location for many of America’s natural wonders. While the city is amazing, I find it very important to take some time away from screens, concrete, and traffic. Since each of these trips were to popular and significant outdoor locations, I thought I’d do a several part series on the Great Outdoors near USC. This is Part 2:

Eastern Sierras and Death Valley

My first trip since I last wrote was a three day trip to Alabama Hills, North Fork, and Death Valley. Alabama Hills and North Fork are located in the Eastern Sierras, and Death Valley is located just east of that. The Sierras are one of several mountain ranges in southern/central California, including others such as Santa Monica Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains. The Sierras are my favorite, as they climb to much higher heights similar to my home mountain range, the Rockies. It’s about a five hour trek out from USC, but it is so worth it, whether you are climbing one of the three 14,000ft mountains, skiing at Mammoth, or visiting the hot springs in the area!

So anyway, my three day trip – the first stop was Alabama Hills: a collection of rock spires and large boulders in the foothills of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental US. It’s an amazing spot for rock climbing, which is exactly what our group did. Since we got there sort of late, we climbed through sunset and into the night as the full moon rose, which provided an amazing view of the stars (see title picture). We camped that night in the foothills, and headed into the mountains the next day for an awesome snowshoeing trail. Snowshoeing is exactly like hiking, except with the strange shoes. It was so quiet and peaceful with the blanket of powdery snow around us.

Finally, we headed from the Sierras east across the valley, and over another smaller mountain ridge into Death Valley. Since this was in February, Death Valley had perfect weather and was not terribly hot. We headed into a canyon to try out SC Outfitters first ever canyoneering trip! Canyoneering consists of hiking up and around a trail to get to the top of a canyon, then repelling down to get to the start of the trail. Unfortunately for us, it had just rained recently, so all the boulders in the canyon had been washed away. When repelling, you need large boulders or craggy rock sections to anchor your rope. Since all the rocks were washed away, we couldn’t complete the repelling section and to hike back out of the canyon. Oh well! We got some amazing views and a great workout for sure. After that, it was a drive back to USC, feeling refreshed and replenished, and ready for great night of rest.

Check out the next part of my series to learn about Yosemite National Park! If you have any questions about where to camp or hike on a weekend trip from USC, let me know.

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Sophie

Sophie

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Chemical Engineering (Petroleum), Class of 2018, Learn more on her profile here!

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