Trails’ Log: Eastern Sierra Adventure

Thursday 1600: Almost made it through work without getting distracted by impending trip. Pull up Google Earth images to scout possible camping spots. Scroll down Little Walker River Road – nope first turn off is a ranch of some sort. Second turn off would work in a pinch. Third turn off has a few decent options for a late night arrival and early morning departure.

Thursday 1608: Get distracted scrolling around Burt Canyon, trying to figure out where on Earth we hiked in that mess of topography. Found Anna Lake! Note to self – must return to Hoover Wilderness this summer.

Thursday 1630: Text from Route, he escaped work early – there goes any hope of productivity for my last 30 minutes of work.

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Aspen’s essentials.

Thursday 1700: Sweet, sweet freedom! Everything get in the car, we’re headed east!

Thursday 1821: OK, now we’re actually headed east.

Thursday 2045: Missed turn for Highway 89, turn around.

Thursday 2102: Gate to Highway 395 is closed. *$%#@! There is no snow around us, there better be some on Monitor Pass!

Thursday 2233: I would like to note there was no pass closed sign at the turn, but Highway 395 did a fantastic job of notifying us that Monitor Pass is closed. CalTrans must just close it at the first snow and call it good until spring. Noted for next time… Anyway, pulled into a campsite on third road. Bit of a slope, but it’ll do nicely. Good night Eastern Sierra, see you in the morning.

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Little Walker River Road campsite.

Friday 0718: Obligatory tent selfie with this furry bed hog.

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Good morning!

Friday 0810: De-thawing dog water on stove, may have gotten chilly last night.

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Order up!

Friday 0900: Hot spring morning, arrived to ladies whispering at Travertine Hot Springs. Maybe I’m not familiar with hot spring etiquette, but is it similar to a library? Odd. Geology here is pretty gneiss; actually it’s travertine.

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The hot spot in the main set of pools.

Friday 1312: Base of China Wall, ready to climb. Initial observations of Owens River Gorge – very popular with climbers, dog-friendly, and quite warm already in March. I can’t image this place in summer, it must be dawn patrol and evening climbing.

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Cleaning the anchor on Heart of the Sun.

Friday 1636: Packed up and ready for the hike out. Two climbs, my first two anchor cleans, and the tallest climbs I’ve done to date. We started on China Doll, a four-star eight, then moved to Heart of the Sun, a five-star nine. The climbing bible for the gorge seems to be Owens River Gorge Climbs by Marty Lewis. Lots of rating options, lots of good folks. Really the whole day was gorges.

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View from the top.

Friday 1647: Went to use the bathroom in the gorge. Squat toilet, wasn’t expecting that. Must bring a supply of toilet paper next time.

Friday 1714: So sweaty after that stair-master hike out of the gorge, must camp by hot   springs. Consulting Eastern Sierra Hot Springs by George Williams III…

Friday 1814: Pull into Shepherd Hot Spring with a near-full hot spring and two other cars behind us. Bail! Bail! Two other cars bail too, just kidding – make another u-turn, change like Superman off to save the world, and jump in the pool as more cars pull in.

Friday 1909: Thankfully the tub was full of friendly folks, those were tight quarters. We must remember to bring second-round beers next time. Aspen made some fans with her muddy paws and regal stature. However, I am now officially a prune, time to drive further west on Whitmore Tub Road to find a camp spot.

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So regal with her muddy paws.

Friday 1928: There’s a canyon back here?! Snow dusted mountains all around, dinner on the stove, cork popped on a bottle of zin – no complaints here. There are so many options to camp out here, pick a road and find a spot, but be mindful of private property of course.

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Hot Creek canyon view.

Friday 2106: Route is officially a foodie, he thinks the Orion constellation looks like a bunch of cilantro.

Friday 2142: Full moon looks like the night sun. We saw it – time for warm sleeping bags, it’s past hiker midnight after all.

Saturday 859: I’m about done with all of this broken glass! It’s officially, official – more good beer needs to be canned. I should not have to be paranoid about my adventure pup cutting her paw whenever we have a front-country adventure. There are so many advantages to canned beer, less paw-slicing glass shards is just the frothy foam on top of the beer. Indeed Brewing Company makes the argument for cans well, “Imagine an aluminum can as a suit of armor for your beer.”

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Saturday 0945: View from cathole.

Saturday 1000: Headed west on Whitmore Tub Road in search of Little Hot Creek.

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Quick stop to enjoy the view along Whitmore Tub Road.

Saturday 1045: After one wrong turn and a couple games of chicken on a one-lane road, we made it!  Some folks came and went, but we managed to have the tub to ourselves for a bit. This tub is a bit more secluded and high clearance is an advantage.

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Little Hot Creek tub.

Saturday 1222: Headed west again in search of a random road in the high desert to a nice spot for a pizza lunch.

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Backcountry pizza.

Saturday 1342: Stopped by the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center to get advice on a snowshoe adventure. Parked near Mammoth Mountain Inn, shouldering packs, and heading 2.3 miles to Minaret Vista.

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The snow-covered road to Minaret Vista.

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Harper Fawn enjoying the Minaret Vista interpretive display.

Saturday 1528: It’s so hot, we could snowshoe in our underwear – literally! Checking the camera after our last photo, an engine rumbles from the surrounding forest…it’s a tourist snowcat motoring up to the vista point. Outer layers!!

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Just your average afternoon snowshoe…

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Return trip through the ski area was less hectic with lifts closed for the afternoon.

Saturday 1742: Puppy party at Mammoth Brewing Company and build-your-own 6-pack.

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Mammoth Brewing puppy party!

Saturday 1810: Dinner to-go from zpizza. The bacon spinach mushroom pizza was delightful, the arugula salad could use more toppings, and the Parmesan flatbread sticks were a disappointment.

Saturday 1906: Running water that doesn’t smell like sulfur! Cozying up at Pine Cliff Resort. The host even brought Aspen a treat!

Sunday 0945: Schat’s Bakery – delightful per usual.

Sunday 1005: Driving the June Lake Loop, it’s nice and all, but I prefer it in the fall with golden aspen painting the mountains.

Sunday 1042: The Mobil is still closed up for winter, windows covered and everything, but they still have fuel. I miss you Whoa Nellie Deli and shall see you this summer!

Sunday 1130: No pictures of actual Buckeye Hot Springs, I think cameras are frowned upon when nude hot springers are hanging out…

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Aspen above Buckeye Hot Springs.

Sunday 1313: I love the stretch through West Walker River Canyon. A quick stop at Shingle Mill Flat Day Use Area, the gate is closed, but the restroom is open.

Sunday 1446: One last romp in the snow for Aspen.

Sunday 1658: Home sweet home. Where to next?

Trails, signing off.

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