Wednesday, October 7, 2015

auto hiking in the eastern Sierras

We had a very long and restful sleep in our quiet campground in Mono Lake.   We woke to sunny, brilliant skies so we took full advantage, sitting outside for second cup and even for lunch.

The mountains all around us are dusted with snow, making for beautiful views in every direction.

After lunch we set out to see something we hadn't seen before.   This is our third trip down the fabled 395 so we wanted to have a new experience.    Pam and John had gone to the mountain ghost town of Bodie.    Bodie is suspended in time, maintained in a state of "arrested decay" and a place not to be missed.  these pictures were taken on our previous visit.

Since we had visited there on our retirement trip in 2012, we elected to head a bit further south and look for something new to us.

First we had to take a quick side trip to June and Gull Lakes - we always seem to find our way to a lake or stream first off.

I took no pictures of June Lake, we'll take the loop drive around it and several chain lakes tomorrow.      We did stop at a little fishing marina on tiny Gull Lake and walked on the docks.   On shore, they had a lovely campfire going with rustic benches pulled up around it...  We were tempted to sit awhile and enjoy the smells of the crackling fire and clear mountain water.

fishing boats for hire on Gull Lake

Someone at the bait shop had a humorous way with a chainsaw and the place was filled with black bear statues.

We continued down 395 south toward Mammoth Lakes.   Just past it's small airport we turned down a wide dirt road and were rewarded with more breathtaking views.

At the end of our dusty but beautiful drive we came upon this...

   A shallow gorge with water of a very unusual shade of blue.    We had arrived at Hot Creek Geothermal Site.

A steep path took us down to creek level where another dirt path wanders along its banks.   The smell of sulphur was strong and the air  hot and moist with periodic drifts of steam.    Water in the three robin's egg blue pools cascades from one to another and then into Hot Creek.   They are the hottest pools (over 199 degrees)  but certainly not the only ones.

We read that the temperature in these pools and in Hot Creek itself changes often and unpredictably.   At some times there are even geysers present in the area and we noticed many fumaroles alongside the creek and its banks.

steam was rising from the black cracks in the rocks 

If we stood still and just looked at the surface of the creek, we could see bubbles rising in many places.   We realized that the benign looking water was actually boiling!

never being much of a rule follower, Dave found a break in the fence....

he needed to put his hand in the creek
he was, indeed, HOT

We walked along the stream for awhile before turning back and heading home.  We continue to be amazed at the diversity along the 395 corridor.  We're so glad John and Pam asked us to join them on this section of our trip!

Speaking of John and Pam, they joined us for happy hour tonight and we compared notes on our busy days.    When the sun went down and it became too cold to sit outside, we went to the Tioga Gas Mart (where you can fill your car and your belly) for dinner.   Its a strange but delicious place.

I leave you with one more mountain photo from our auto hike today.


  1. It is absolutely gorgeous there! I am going to have to share these with my brother who lives much closer than I do. Thanks for sharing and now to catch up - backwards!

  2. The snow capped peaks are lovely...we have newly capped peaks at Ridgway too!

    What neat hot springs. I can't believe Dave touched the water! I always have visions of sticking a finger in and coming up without skin, just bone!

  3. Beautiful country for sure! Love the snow capped picturesque!

  4. Can't wait to get south and see the snow (as long as it stays up high)! Great pics of the hot pools - looks like a perfect auto hike. Dinner at the gas mart sounds......different :-)))

  5. Whew...I love the Sierras! Keep those mountain pictures coming!