Friday, Saturday, October 4-5
The past 2 days have been very cold in the mornings (mid 30’s) very warm days and cool nights. We had some moderate winds in the valley areas, but in the canyons it is really nice. We decided staying in the canyons might be the best bet. We chose to visit Lundy Canyon to see how it was doing. On all of our previous visits to the canyon it had been pretty deserted. Of course it was latter in the month and most of the leaves had fallen by then. This time through it was surprisingly busy. I’m sure it had to do with the shutdown. Unlike all the federal camping areas, the campgrounds along Lundy are county and so are all open – and nearly full. This was a little disappointing because we usually would walk through all the sites looking for images along the stream that runs behind the campground.
We traveled further up the canyon, past the reservoir to the trailhead for Lundy Canyon. We’ve never hiked this trail before and after lingering around the beaver ponds for a while, we set off to do just a short portion of it. It is another pretty spectacular walk, at least the mile of it that we did. It starts out by running past a small lake that had some nice reflections of foliage around it’s edge, then rises up through a very pretty aspen forest before opening to a grand view up and down the canyon. We stopped at a high point where we could see a very large waterfall in the distance.Mary still wasn’t up for a longer hike at this point, so we turned around and just photographed the immediate area. On the way down we overheard a group of women talking about bees. Didn’t really catch much of what they were saying but they were quite animated about it. After we passed them, I noticed a rather angry buzzing around my head and was soon torpedoed in the chin by what I must assume was a bee. It bounced off pretty hard, but moments later I felt what I though was a hair on the back of my neck getting caught in my camera strap. Except it kept getting more intensely painful. Reaching back, I detected something sticking out of the skin. Yep, a stinger. First time I’ve been stung in probably 20 years. I’ve had swarms buzz right through me without getting stung before. This one just seemed to have it in for me. I’m just glad it wasn’t a wasp. The pain subsided pretty quickly and today it just feels like a slightly painful mosquito bite.
Well, I had to soothe my pain somehow, so Mary and I came back to camp, cleaned up a bit and headed out to the Whoa Nelly Deli, a part of the Mobile gas station in Lee Vining. Fine dining it ain’t, but it is convenient and the food is not too bad. Of course we don’t get out much when we travel, so most anything tastes pretty good to us. We bought a bottle of wine off the rack, picked up our dinners and had a pleasant evening of someone else’s cooking while listening to the Braves beat the Dodgers (Yay!). We got a slice of amazing chocolate cake to go and retired for the evening.
While paying for our food at the register, Mary started talking to the girl at the counter. Her name tag said Hugo. Kind of unusual. Mary thought she might be about the same age (by now) of a new baby boy belonging to the owner of an old breakfast place since gone out of business in another part of town, named Bodie. This was probably 25 years ago. Turns out, Hugo no longer lives in Lee Vining, but works here in the Summer and goes back to Eureka for the winter months. She did know Bodi! He now lives in Reno. Small towns.
We decided to empty holding tanks, fill fresh water and do some shopping in the morning. I thought it might get busier over the weekend and didn’t want to loose our positioning at the campsite. It really wasn’t a worry though. Nobody, save a stray overnighter has spent any time at this spot. While hundreds of visitors are stopping at the Tufa Grove, busloads in fact, nobody come by here. Fine by me.
Today we wanted to finally get in our first real hike. We decided on the hike to Green Lake at the end of Green Creek that we had checked out before. It is reached by driving the Green Creek dirt road, off 395 south of Bridgeport, 8 miles to it’s end. There are lots of camping spots all along the last 4 miles of the drive. All dispersed. There were actually a lot more people out here than I would have expected, but hunting season has started, and there still is the shutdown. We got ourselves to the trail head and started out on the 6 mile roundtrip walk. It was really beautiful hike. We chose this hike because it’s elevation gain was only 840 feet. We thought it would be pretty manageable for our first hike and it turned out to be a mostly gradual rise the the lake. The weather was just perfect for it too.
It being so late in the year, the sun is lower in the sky, so most of the hike was in shaded. The sun wasn’t getting over the trees so much. There were plenty of breaks and a few open areas that got us sweating. While there was quite a few aspens around, they were again difficult to photograph in any kind of unique way. It didn’t matter. It was just so nice to be hiking in the Sierra’s again. Lovely air, wonderful views and eventually the lake. This time of year, all the lakes around here tend to be on the low side and Green Lake was pretty low, but still very nice once you got to the edge. We had our lunch lakeside, took a few shots and started back. We could have walked further up to West Lake, but that would have been another mile and 500′ gain. We could have hiked to East Lake, but that would have been much more grueling distance and elevation rise. I was glad we did turn back after 3 miles. We were both pretty tired afterwards.
In the parking lot, my phone rang. It was a friend of mine (and actually my last employer before I stopped working for good). We had been emailing the previous few days and he had come up for a long weekend. We told him where we were, and met him at our campsite at Mono. It was great to see him again. He is a very talented photographer himself and one of the best printers I know. He’s had a custom photo printing business for more that 30 years in Berkeley and has transitioned it into more of a fine arts printing business now that everything had gone digital. We had dinner together in the rig and he spent the night at the site. We may or may not hook up again before he goes back, but it was fun to catch up with him.
The weather is supposed to get even colder around Monday or Tuesday so we will probably head south for several days. Our friends Jim and Galye who are currently camping down in Bishop and also moving further south to Lone Pine and we hope to catch up with them for a few days by mid-week. Today (Sunday) we are going to check out the June Lake loop and hopefully another hike on Monday.