California Dreaming

  • A late winter drive to visit Cerro Gordo at 8,000 feet. As is the norm with California, so much of it’s history is punctuated by the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century. The rise and decline of many mining towns are reflected in this history.. Cerro Gordo, Spanish for “fat mountain,” received it’s name due to the abundance of ore. All this ore would travel down the mountain and up would come supplies needed to continue the mining operation.

    Of course, this is all now defunct, with only the ruins of this infrastructure and a dry lake left behind as fossils.

    Our initial ascent by 4×4 was on a difficult trail, so we backed down and went up an easier road, resulting in arriving to the town much later in the day than expected. Descending the shady side of the mountain was much colder and darker. We eventually forged a campsite at the base of the mountain bordering Death Valley..

    I recall a remarkably frigid evening – sufficiently cold that the guacamole became crunchy when ice actually formed on and in it. However, that doesn’t compare to the memory of sitting in my chair, fire almost out, and seeing this bright light cast over the mountain, slowly encroaching on our campsite. I thought it might be a car or helicopter, but as I gazed at it, this brilliant full moon eventually peeked above the hill in front of us, illuminating the landscape so brightly and searing it’s reflected light on my mind.