It’s cold in the Eastern Sierras in February. I think that’s something we can agree on. It’s also perhaps the best time of the year to visit. That’s something we might not agree on, but that’s what I found out this winter.
I’ve been to Eastern Sierras a few times already, in summer, fall, and now winter. And I must say that, even though it was freezing at night, seven below zero, it was the best time I’ve ever had there. Speaking of cold…
I crossed the pass that HWY 395 winds through to get to Lee Vining from the north just as the sun set. It was windy but not too cold, given the time of the year. I found a place that would become my home for the next few nights near Mono City. It was a beautiful spot with a view of the mountains in the west, so close it felt like I could just reach my hand and touch them, and Mono Lake to the east, which I could see if I climbed on top of the van named Betsy, an old Dodge from the 80’s.
I got ready for the night, snuggled under several blankets, reading a book and watching the oh-so-many stars.
I got up with the first light, seeing my breath rise to the ceiling. Untangling myself from the blankets was better than any other morning workout. As I stepped outside, it was absolutely quiet. The wind from the previous night died down and a blanket of absolute peace was spread across the land. I walked up on a little mound of loose dirt and sand separating and hiding me from the road.
Before me, Lake Mono mirrored the soft pink and grey sky. And then the miracle of the morning came, as the colors changed into vibrant oranges and blues and the sun peeked out from behind the horizon.
The most beautiful part of the day, the world woke up, bursting with colors.
The snow on the mountaintop standing tall right above my ‘home’ turned warm bright yellow as did the clouds above, contrasting with the young blue sky.
Crater Mountain in the southeast shed its usual grey and white and adopted the lemony yellow of the sky above it.
Mountains further to the south did the same, their peaks catching the first sun-rays to kiss the land.
It was the most beautiful moment, a moment of a new beginning, a moment of absolute beauty, a moment of connection.
I was alone but I’ve never felt more one with anyone than I did with the land surrounding me in that moment.
Soon, the sun reached the van, too, and started to quickly warm it up. The day begun and I couldn’t wait to see what it was going to bring.