Wednesday, June 8 (cont’d)
After the fun day at Rock Creek, I come home to the most unique sunset I’ve ever experienced. As last light hits the White mountains, a band of clouds overhead turn soft white, like a beacon. The band extends from north to south.
The white fades with the sun and I think that’s the end, but then the band lights up again, this time in orange. The orange blossoms into peach, gold, purple, pink, and red: a wave of fire undulating across the sky.
Lake Crowley is aglow with reflected color.
To the north the band spews out of the top of a peak in the Sierra, like an eruption of cotton candy. What a sunset!
Thursday, June 9
I’ve hit the dry-camping jackpot. Between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, CA along 395 there are four, yes, four free National Forest campgrounds to choose between – all within a few miles of each other. Today’s mission to scout out all four so tomorrow I can tow Cas straight to the best one.
Campground #1: Big Springs
This campground has the least amount of dirt road driving but is a good distance from 395, the spur road is paved all the way out to the entrance so for those who like a smoother drive with less highway noise, this is the winner (campground itself is dirt though).
Many sites are large enough for big rigs and some could fit multiple big rigs, but many sites butt right up against each other. Still, if you park in the middle of your site there will be decent separation.
Pit toilets, bear box, picnic table, firepit, partial shade for most sites this time of year (open forest) but would be mostly shaded when the sun is lower in the sky, 21 day stay limit, average of 2 bars of Verizon signal. Was about 1/3 full when I toured.
Campground #2: Lower Deadman
This campground was the farthest from a paved road, about 2.5 miles down a spur from 395, road was in good condition though. There’s an Upper and Lower Deadman campground, on opposing sides of Deadman creek. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the Upper though.
The sites here are the smaller, a few could fit Cas and Bertha hooked up together (35 feet) but not many. The creek is small and I imagine it dries up later in the summer. None of the sites are right on the creek, but there’s a turn-around loop that goes right to the water.
Pit toilets, bear box, picnic table, firepit, mostly shaded sites (denser forest), 14 day stay limit, average of 3 bars Verizon signal. Was only one camper here when I toured.
Campground #3: Glass Creek
This campground is the closest to 395, about a quarter-mile down a dirt road.
Large sites, nearly all are suitable for a big rig and decent separation. This campground is popular with the ATV crowd and was quite noisy when I toured. I assume there must be a creek nearby but I didn’t stay long enough to find it.
Pit toilets, bear box, picnic table, firepit, partially shaded sites (open forest), 21 day stay limit, average of 4 bars Verizon signal. Was nearly full when I toured.
Campground #4: Hartley Springs
This campground is 1.8 miles from 395 down a dirt road, and the road was in the worst shape of the ones I toured (1 lane in spots with erosion), but large fifth wheels still made it up the hill, I wouldn’t attempt towing here when it’s wet though unless you have 4-wheel drive.
Huge sites, nearly all suitable for more than one big rig and good separation. All of these campgrounds are over 7,000 feet, but this one is at the highest elevation approaching 8,000 feet. There is some ATV activity here. If there’s a spring I haven’t found it, but there is a forested ridge behind the campground.
Pit toilets, no bear box, picnic table, firepit, most sites partially shaded – some mostly shaded, 14 day stay limit, average of 3 bars Verizon signal. Was 1/4 full when I toured.
It’s hard to follow and act like last night’s sunset. But tonight’s certainly isn’t bad.
Friday, June 10
And the winner is? Hartley Springs Campground, with Big Springs a close second. Lower Deadman is too forested for me to get solar power and Glass Creek was busier than I prefer. It’s a short drive from Crowley Lake to Hartley Springs and I’m ensconced in my new camp (site 16) and all set up well before noon. I choose 16 because it’s the most open, I get full sun on my solar panel for about 8 hours a day.
And it’s a good thing I arrive when I do. Strong winds roar through the pine in the afternoon, a novel sound after all the desert camping. Looking closer at the trees, it strikes me that there are three different kinds of pine tree here. Perhaps one of you readers is good at identification.
There is no sweeping view, surrounded as it is by forest. But it feels cozy and sheltered. All in all, a fine place to call home!
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