The rumbling started on the outskirts of Lone Pine at around noon on a Saturday. A fast-approaching frenzy of steel and rubber – 19 motorcycles and a Baja bug in all – crossed into the city limits without warning. There were some 26 of us in tow, tanned and sweating beer under the desert sun, recovering from a previous night of godforsaken antics that had us hightailing out of Trona Pinnacles at daybreak.
It had begun as a casual gathering around a campfire and predictably spiraled into a ritualistic ceremony of the unsound. At some point, a few disappeared in the bug muttering about a moonlit tour of the Pinnacles, while off to the side another group crouched open-mouthed around a revved up bike for the aptly named “chopper chug”, pouring beer behind the exhaust and jet streaming it down the gullet with a twist of the throttle as if this were normal behavior.
After making a few repairs to the Baja bug, which may have been related to its late night excursions, the bleary-eyed freak show rolled on the next morning. Death Valley bound and turning heads as we barreled down the dotted line connecting each one-horse town to the next, it was a day spent passing through frontier country.
The residents of Lone Pine seemed curious, if not bewildered, by our arrival, and we whiled away a few hours at the town skatepark before wandering into the Alabama Hills for another evening in the wilderness. Watching the sun set behind Mount Whitney, we were prepared to blow off some steam with no one to lay witness to our hooliganism except towering boulders and open desert when an older gentleman appeared. In the midst of a cross country journey, he was looking for a place to lay his head and asked to spend the night in our company. All were welcome, we explained, but he might find himself regretting the decision within a few hours.
If he did in fact start to question the sanity of his newly found camp mates, which we wouldn’t blame him for, the seasoned wayfarer showed no sign of it. He toughed it out as we prepared dinner – beer with a side of beans – and sunk into another night beyond the boundaries of the civilized.
We had ourselves a weekend. As it wound down at sun up the next morning, we decamped and parted ways with our elder companion, ready for another day in the saddle with good company.
Photos by Jonny Bourgault