by Bryan Hatchell
On February 23rd, Friends of the Inyo staff and 21 eager guests set out for an adventure in the Bodie Hills. We convened at the bustling Virginia Creek Settlement for a hearty breakfast and great company. Nearly too full to function, our entourage of adventure seekers piled into cars and set out for the Bodie Hills. We soon arrived at the trailhead in Aurora Canyon and prepared ourselves for a trek in untouched snow. Snowshoers buckled up and skiers locked themselves in. Our Executive Director, Wendy Schnieder, quickly briefed the group on safety and best practices for a Bodie Hills hike, followed by an origin story of the Bodie Hills name by our Desert Lands Organizer, Bryan Hatchell. Brimming with excitement, we set off for the day.
The weather was on our side this Saturday. The sun was bright, the snow soft and there was little to no wind. Throughout pitstops on the hike uphill, Friends of the Inyo staff shared stories of the Bodie Hills and why it needs protection. For example, the Bodie Hills are the last remaining unprotected puzzle piece that connects the Mono Lake Basin to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Sweetwater Mountains. The Bodie Hills also provide habitat for over 450 plant species and 5 species of lagomorphs (pika, pygmy rabbits, Cottontail, two jackrabbits). Many know the Bodie Hill State Historic Park and its history as a ghost town. Imagine these 1,200 acres of protected land as postage stamp on the larger envelope that is the 188,000 unprotected acres of the Bodie Hills.
As we shared the Bodie Hills story, the FOI team could see our guests appreciation of the land increase. What better way to come to love a landscape than to be in it and learn? The group found one last meeting point to have snacks and wax skis for the ride back. Green with envy, snowshoers plodded downhill as the cross country skiers sailed along. The walk back seemed longer than hike up… Well, for the snowshoers at least. We arrive at our cars tired, yet fulfilled. A little sun-kissed, the group climbs into their respective cars, minds filled with new memories of beautiful and bountiful Bodie Hills.
It is only a matter of time until The Bodie Hills face a threat. Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership and Friends of the Inyo are taking a proactive approach, working to obtain a protective land designation for the area. We extend our gratitude to our adventures on this trip and if you weren’t able to join us this go around, we hope to see you on the next one! Without interest in the land, our work becomes moot on the ears of influencers. Follow both Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership and Friends of the Inyo to stay up to date on the latest about the Bodie Hills, and please consider donating to our fight to protect these lands. Every individual’s action makes a difference. All hands on deck!