Potato Peak is kind of a cowpie shaped mountain in the northern end of the Bodie Hills, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As part of a project FOI has currently embarked upon, which includes inventorying motorized routes in BLM Wilderness Study Areas (part of the National Landscape Conservation System), I drove east out of Bridgeport on the Aurora Canyon road up to a junction that turns down toward Bodie State Park. Excellent scenery of the Bridgeport Valley, the Eastern Sierra, and down into the Bodie Basin is provided just at the top of the road here. Not many visitors to this part of the Bodie hills, although I did pass by some anglers along the Walker River that flows into the Bridgeport Reservoir, didn’t look like they were catchin anything though.
My original plan was to take a nice hike in the hills up here and explore what our route inventory project might look like. I encountered quite a bit of snow here, however; not unusual this time of year, but the recent warm days tricked me into thinking otherwise. I happened to have been skiing up in the Virginia Lakes Canyon earlier in the day, so I still had my trusty old Karhu Catamounts with me, and decided I would go exploring Nordic style. Over bushes and rocks, meadows and streams created from snowmelt, I made my way slowly up icy snowfields to Potato Peak. This is normally easily accessible as an easy to moderate half-day hike right from Aurora Canyon road, but I liked the added challenge that this provided.
Once atop the not-so-majestic peak, the sun was beginning to set, and I encountered a brutally cold wind, so I snapped a few photos, drank some water, and decided it best to make my way down the hill. Having gotten lots of practice skiing on icy, rock hard snow this winter, I zoomed down the hill, with tears rushing from my eyes in the wind, a gleeful smile, and a giddy feeling that only comes with the payoff of working for your hills in the world of backcountry skiing.
(View from Potato Peak, looking at the Sierra Crest west of Bridgeport, and the southern end of the Sweetwaters)
The Bodie Hills are a unique and special place, definitely worth checking out and exploring anytime of the year. The Aurora Canyon Road is adjacent to both the Bodie Mountain and Bodie WSAs, with Mount Beideman close by. Home to plenty of sagebrush and sage grouse, this is yet another place that Friends of the Inyo is dedicated to preserving and promoting good stewardship and responsible use of the resource.