Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hot Creek Geologic Area



It took us four trips to Mammoth Lakes while we were staying near Mono Lake to find our next boondock site. Well, we had to go the 30 miles to Mammoth for a real grocery store (a very nice Vons), anyway, so we drove around the forest scoping out sites before we went shopping. This area is mostly National Forest and BLM land, and we ended up on BLM land off Hot Creek Hatchery Rd. There are lots of opportunities for dispersed camping in the area, but finding a spot that is level, not in the dense forest, and on a decent enough road to get the rigs down isn’t always that easy. Oh, and we also like to have a nice view if possible, and I think we managed to accomplish that.

Not a bad seat in the house.




And we’re only 10 miles from Mammoth Lakes and about 7 miles to Convict Creek Campground, where the Forest Service has a free RV dump and water.

I had to go for an early morning walk to check out our new neighborhood. No doubt the creek is warm by the look of the steam coming off it.


Saw a couple deer enjoying the lush green grass near the water.


Later we took a hike to the Hot Creek Geologic Site. This is like a mini Yellowstone, with bubbling blue pools and steam vents which can occasionally erupt to form a geyser, although we didn’t see that happen.



Swimming is no longer allowed.


And this explains why: (copied from The American Southwest)

<There is one thermal area on the far side of the creek and another just downstream, though both can only be viewed from a distance, as new access restrictions were introduced in summer 2006 following renewed geological activity. Several new vents appeared, water in some of the existing pools became hotter, arsenic levels grew, and the springs started to erupt unpredictably (though still infrequently), accompanying a general uplift of the center of the Long Valley Caldera, and an increased occurrence of minor earthquakes. The springs are now fenced off, swimming in the pools or creek is no longer allowed, and many notices warn of the danger of leaving the footpath - constraints likely to continue indefinitely.>

it won’t come as a surprise that we saw a family with kids and bathing suits heading down to the water down a closed road with a locked gate.

Fishing for native trout is allowed, though. Catch and release only.





What a beautiful place to take a walk. The eastern Sierra has yet to disappoint us.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mono Pass Trail, Yosemite National Park


We wanted to take one last hike in Yosemite and it was a beautiful clear day with no smoke. If the winds shift that could all change tomorrow.


The Mono Pass trailhead begins at Dana Meadows off Tioga Pass Road, about a mile past the Tioga entrance station. Much of the trail goes through a lodgepole pine forest, passing by numerous meadows with wildflowers long past their peak.


A different view of Mount Dana on this hike..


This trail was built by Native Americans, and later used by prospectors and miners working at the Gold Crown Mine in the 1880s. There are still some remains of old cabins.


And mine shafts.


After a few miles the trail finally climbs out of the forest into a glacial moraine.



And surprise! A couple of lakes. This one unnamed.


Then Summit Lake just beyond Mono Pass.



We knew if you continued on past Summit Lake into Bloody Canyon there are two more lakes and long distance views of Mono Lake. Since we had already hiked over four miles, we decided that was enough and turned back.


It‘s thought the name Bloody Canyon came about because the prospectors and miners lost so many horses and mules to foot and leg injuries from the sharp rocks they had to traverse.


For our longest hike in Yosemite, this was probably the easiest one for us, as the trail gains just 900 feet over the four miles to Mono Pass. Much of the hike is on fairly level ground, although there are some steep areas, and you are hiking at 10,000 feet, so it makes the uphills seem harder.

We had high hopes of seeing wildlife on this trail since we only saw a few other people, but besides lots of birds this was our big sighting for the day.


Today we are making a short move to the Mammoth Lakes area after we get another tire leak repaired.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Walker Lake Trail


After a day of needed rest for our legs, we decided to take a short hike to Walker Lake, just off the north June Lake Loop.


We only hiked a total of 2.2 miles, but it was quite a workout. For a change of pace, this trail drops 500 feet in under a mile to the lake, with a fork through Bloody Canyon to Mono Pass (another 4 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing), if you’re feeling ambitious. We were not.

We began to see the lake after just a few steps down. The problem was we had to watch our feet constantly since the trail was so steep and rocky.



We made it to the shore, with a few people behind us carrying fishing gear. You really have to want to fish to lug all that stuff down a treacherous trail.


There are huge cedar trees all along the trail, both dead and alive, which gave the forest such a pleasant smell.


Walker Lake Trail

Stands of aspen surround the shore, where the trail was overgrown and became hard to follow. We did see a deer along here.


There are a few cabins at one end of the lake, with their own private access road. What a peaceful place for a vacation home.


This is the view they have of Bloody Canyon.


It turned out the hike back up was not quite as difficult as we thought it would be. Maybe we’re finally adjusting to the altitude, although the elevation on this trail was “only” 8,000 feet.


This short but challenging hike to another pristine Sierra Nevada lake would be a nice one to do next month when the aspen leaves are changing color.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hiking On Lesser Known Trails Near Yosemite and Fire Update



We received a few emails yesterday from friends wondering if the wild fire near Yosemite was a threat to us. Thanks for your concern. We are about 50-60 miles east of the Rim Fire, on the other side of the Sierra Nevada. No fire danger here from that one, and the fire near Bodie just to our north has been contained.

This is not what you want to see outside your window at night, but at least we had Mono Lake between us and last weeks fire.


The wind shifted and came out of the west late yesterday afternoon, which did bring us some haze and smoke from the Yosemite fire. We thought about moving farther south this morning, but the weather report said our wind should become southerly this afternoon, which it did, and it has now cleared up nicely. There is something to be said for living in a house on wheels that can be moved on short notice, so if the smoke becomes worse we will move on until we get away from it.

We found a couple of nice hikes just outside the eastern Yosemite entrance. Along Saddlebag Road is the 10,000 ft Inyo NF Sawmill Walk-In campground. Almost made us want to tent camp again, it is in such a beautiful location and the sites are so widely separated. If you walk through the campground there is a trail that leads to the Hall Research Natural Area, less than a mile past the last site.




In another half mile there was supposed to be a fork in Slate Creek, which we had been following. There we were to take the left fork, ford the creek, and come to Green Treble Lake in another half mile. We somehow missed the fork and the turn, and had walked another mile before we decided to turn back. We never could find the turn, so we just crossed the creek and took off across the rocks to see if we could locate the lake. We could see it on the map, but there was a big mountain between us and the lake, so we just gave up looking. Nice hike, anyway.


Hike from Sawmill Walk-In Campground, tried to find Green Treble Lake

We think the lake was on the other side of the mountain, but the book said this was a hike with little elevation change.


Yesterday we went back to Saddlebag Rd, to the Junction Creek Campground and the start of the one mile trail to Bennettville, a former failed silver mine.


The trail follows Mine Creek, with lots of small cascades along the way.


It’s a bit of a climb up to the mine, and we did our usual huffing and puffing. The creek gave us lots of good reasons to stop and catch our breath.


All that’s left of Bennettville are these two restored buildings and some rusty equipment.



Although it is not named and not on our map, the trail past the mine continues on. Our plan was to hike another mile or so to Shell Lake and Fantail Lake. We had no idea this would turn out to be such a great hike! The scenery was every bit as good as the 20 Lakes Basin Hike we did a couple weeks ago, and it didn’t cost us a boat ride to get there.



Shell Lake



A second, unnamed lake.


Fantail Lake.


A photo of Jim taking the next shot of ripples in the water.



We decided to walk around the lake and look for a good spot to sit and eat. There really wasn’t a bad spot.


Jim decided to wander off and see if the trail continued. He called for me to come, so I left the binoculars with Debbie and said we’d be back shortly. The trail got rough and went up and up, but we were energized from our energy bars so we kept on.



Jim kept saying let’s go a little farther and see what’s past the next climb.


I had forgotten there was one more lake, so it was quite a surprise when this appeared.

Spuller Lake.



Yes, a faint trail continued on, but we knew we had almost 3 miles to go back and Debbie was waiting. Jim looked at the map and we weren’t too far from Green Treble Lake, the one we never found a few days ago.

Our views of Mt. Dana on the way back.




We didn’t see anyone on the trail until we were heading back, then we ran into several groups of people with dogs. I think we’ve bumped this up to our favorite trail in the area so far.