Arriving for the first time at Sherwin Summit and seeing Bishop’s tiny lights below in a sea of darkness, I remember thinking “What the heck have I gotten myself into now…” Bishop is a small, one-street two-bar kind of town where mules trot by your house, buildings use wood-burning stoves for heat and everyone goes to sleep at 10pm. Yes, this is the metropolis of the Eastside and I’ll be darned if it isn’t a slice of heaven.
Every day isn’t perfect – that’s just life, but even on a bad day you can’t help but love this place. All it takes to have a good time is enough money to put gas in your car and you can soak in hot springs, wander through wild flowers, wonder at petroglyphs, bag a few peaks, climb a few walls, bike, swim, camp, float, ski, fish – you name it. Never had I lived in a place where the pace of life was simply friendly and the question of life was, “how do you play?” The smallness, closeness and shared love for the outdoors creates a community like none I had ever lived in before and will be hard pressed to find again.
I am incredibly lucky to be part of an organization that works to encourage this particular community of outdoor enthusiasts and to safeguard the beautiful open spaces of the Eastside for generations to come. The ESLT staff may be small, but I couldn’t be more impressed by the work that we accomplish. I am grateful to have this second year as an AmeriCorps Member with Eastern Sierra Land Trust, and to hit the ground running with new programs and events, a new office, new staff and new possibilities.
I am also grateful for the things that aren’t changing: programs, monitoring days, and events, but also faces of volunteers that keep coming back, family dinners on Wednesday nights, Mt. Tom’s presence towering above me on my bike ride to work, the Black Sheep parking lot filled with vans and always, the warm Bishop sun. These are a few of the consistencies that fuel me in much the same way that the new and exciting changes do. This year when I hit Sherwin Summit on my way back from AmeriCorps orientation, I saw those tiny Bishop lights in the sea of surrounding darkness and I knew how lucky I was to call this place home.