Saturday, June 11
I part the slats of my blinds and peer out at the new day. The pine trees stand in ranks like dark sentinels under a gray sky.
Well, won’t be getting much in the way of solar power today so that nixes staying home and working on the computer. As it’s not suppose to be very rainy, a day trip is a viable option, and I know just the place. First though, I drive into Mammoth Lakes for laundry and essentials. Best to get chores done in the morning and have them out of the way.
Off of 395 just a couple miles north of camp is 158, called June Lake Loop. This road starts and ends at 395, it doesn’t go through to anywhere. But it’s a very scenic drive, passing by four lakes in the eastern Sierra.
June Lake is very pretty, surrounded by pine with mountains to the west and a Forest Service campground and beach to the east. Oh Ridge campground is $25 a night dry camping, but the loops are terraced on a hill so that many sites have a view of the lake, even those farther back from shore. On a sunny day, I imagine the water is that amazing blue particular to mountain lakes. Today it’s more of a slate, but still nice in a moody sort of way.
The town of June Lake, CA is a cute little tourist destination, the main street lined with gift shops and restaurants. Despite it being a Saturday, it’s pretty quiet. The heat wave has broken with the clouds. Tomorrow is suppose to be quite miserable, rain all day with a high of 55.
From town, I wander down to June Lake Marina, where several fisherman are casting from shore. It’s misting on and off, I wonder if the fish bite better for that. While I watch, the gentleman to the left of me gets a bite and reels in a fish. Not wanting to be rude I don’t get a picture, but it looks decent sized.
A flock of ducks are hanging out by the docked boats. They swim closer to shore and eye me as I walk past, perhaps hoping for a handout.
The road carries me past June Lake. Waterfalls dot the mountains above the road, flashes of white against gray stone. Spring and early summer is the best time for waterfalls out here, later in the summer the snow in the mountains has all melted and it’s much drier.
A FS sign advertises parking for Silver Lake, this must be lake #2. A path winds down through a dense stand of aspens, trunks ghostly white in the dim light. Purple flowers grow in the wet soil near the shore, a spot of color in an otherwise gray day.
This lake seems to have a heavily forested shoreline, but a few breaks in the trees allow for fishing (and photo taking).
There’s a phenomenon I’ve become aware of, working in National Parks. If someone parks in a pullout in a scenic area, it becomes much more likely that a second car will follow, thinking that there must be some good reason the first car stopped there – an animal sighting perhaps, or a good place for a photo. The more cars in a pullout, the more attractive the location becomes for others.
I’m not immune to this phenomenon. In an open meadow of sage, four cars line the road in a pullout. Huh, what’s going on here? The gravitational pull of the four stopped cars reels Bertha in and I find myself joining them along the side of the road.
There are no animals that I can see, but it is a pretty spot. A creek runs through the field and a large group of fishermen appear from the willow growing along the shore, tromping back to their cars. Ah, so that’s the reason.
A sign for Aerie Crag is the next to catch my attention, this appears to have been a campground in the past but is now a day use area. Picnic tables line the parking lot, shadowed by a cliff of bare rock, crumbling and severe.
Paths from the parking lot lead down to the creek, protected by trees and flowing strong. The sun peeks out from the clouds and glints on the rushing water.
Trees become less numerous as I motor down 158. At Grant Lake Overlook I pull in to get a photo, but there doesn’t seem to be a lake to photograph. While water levels are down for all the lakes, Grant is in the worst shape. I drive a bit farther to the marina and finally find it. The marina buildings stand alone and forlorn well above the water line, a new dock has been built out on the lake bed.
There must still be fish in it though. A few people are on the gravely beach, poles in hand. I wish them good luck silently as 158 ends back at 395.
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