Monday, October 21We really like our current campsite here at Hot Creek. At dawn this morning, I stepped out to photograph the creek and discovered that Hot Creek really was – hot. The deer seemed to really like it as well. I saw them wander over last evening and was surprised to see they most likely spent the entire night there, enjoying the warmth of the water. Inside the LD this morning it was 33 degrees. I could sympathize.
We decided to hike the Convict Lake trail this morning. We’ve hiked this trail several times before, but it’s always been late, late in October when most of the foliage had dropped. We were happy to see more on the trees this time around. I’ve always thought all the naked trees we’ve seen along this trail were aspen. They bark all looked like aspen bark. Now that there are leaves to see, it is clear that what we were seeing was birch. Clearly different shapes. I’m such a woodman.
Anyway, it was yet another calm, beautiful day, and on the drive up we could see the creek line covered in lovely golden foliage. Ww parked along the southern edge of the lake and started walking along the easy 1.5 mile trail to the far western end. The trail actually does circle the entire lake, making it a loop of about 3 miles, but for us, the best way to do it is to walk on the southern edge. There are a lot more trees, and nice foliage in general on this side, while the other side is much more open and kind of open and plain.
As usual, we stopped often along the shore to photograph the cottonwood and birch. They were both brilliant in their yellowness. There was virtually no wind so the lake was often very calm and smooth and very reflective. Mary went to town with the water reflecting the trees and mountains. The color of the lake was nearly glacial and contrasted with the trees along the trail, it kept us really busy.
We eventually reached the far western side, and now aspen started showing up. Most of them were spent already, but I did manage to find one of my favorites. I photographed a particular tree embellished with carving for an older project of mine called, Marking Our Place in the World. Whenever we come back here, I locate it and shoot it again. I’ve titled it, Heather in Flames. We stopped here for lunch and enjoyed the quiet and beauty of this lake.
At this end of the lake, is a boardwalk that traverses what, during spring, is probably a very wet section of the trail. By this point in the season, it is reduced to several little creek-lets that we spent some time photographing along. From here we could have completed the loop, or taken a branch trail which leads up into the mountains. Since we’d dawdled so long along the lake, we decided to do neither and retrace our steps. About halfway back, we came upon a guy looking up into the trees behind us. He pointed out a small dot in a tall tree that turned out to be a bald eagle! I’ve never seen one in the eastern Sierra, so this was a special treat. A great way to end an easy hike on a beautiful day.