Fall Colors trip to the Sierras

It was still dark when Teresa and I left the house early Friday morning, in order to beat the LA traffic. By the time we got on the 405 it felt like the rest of the world had the same idea….Once we passed by the airport though, it became smooth sailing all the way to Lone Pine where we stopped for breakfast at the wonderful Alabama Hills Café. Because it was very crowded we were asked to share a table with a nice couple from Scotland who we traveling around the West Coast.

After stuffing our faces with delicious eggs and potatoes, we drove to our first stop at Rock Creek Lake. The fall colors were at full display there and we spent some time enjoying the scenery. Back in the car, we drove a little further when suddenly two dogs came out of nowhere and one of them slammed into the front of the car. Fortunately I had already slowed down for a construction truck, and the dog seemed more upset then hurt.

Onward we went to the June Lake area, where the fall colors had not quite set in yet but does have nice views. We stopped at the trailhead where I had started the JMT trek back in August, where I showed Teresa the trail going up the side of the mountains. We drove a little further to Grant Lake, which is getting smaller and smaller due to the drought. No fall colors here either. Turning back, we to a break for some wonderful cake at the same restaurant we had dinner/breakfast prior to the trek in August. Back in the car, we drove to Mammoth Lakes and checked into our hotel.

The following day, we up the Minaret Summit road to a vista point, where you get a beautiful view of the Minarets and surrounding mountains. Diana’s car was parked there already. Diana and Jorge were hiking up to the top of San Joaquin Mountain today. After a little while we drove up the Red’s Meadow road to its end, from where I would hike to Rainbow Falls. Red’s Meadow resort has a grocery store and restaurant, but both were completely boarded up for the winter! The walk to the Falls was very nice with good patches of fall colors. With the rain and snow that had come down the previous weekend, I expected the Falls to flow at a good rate, but not so much. Bummer!! I decided to continue on to the lower falls, and was I glad I did! Just before the falls is an overlook down into the canyon with a spectacular patch of yellow leaved Aspen along the water line. Even though the lower falls is not GRAND, it is very scenic especially with the yellow Aspen. After two hours I got back to the car, and we slowly drove back to Mammoth Lakes, making a few stops to take pictures of the scenery.

That afternoon, we took a drive around the Mammoth Lakes, which were all very scenic, except of Horseshoe Lake, where signs were posted to stay out of the marked areas due to Carbon Dioxide leaching out of the ground. Pretty bizarre.. That night we had a wonderful dinner with Diana and Jorge who had a great time hiking up San Joaquin.

The next morning we drove to Convict Lake to see some more of the fall colors. Unfortunately we got there way too early because most of the trees were still in the shade. We decided to wait for a little while for the sun to start hitting the trees. This is a beautiful lake, which I will be visiting in the future for sure! While we were there, someone set off a noisy drone flying all around the lake, spoiling the serenity of the place. Driving back home, we stopped at the famous Schat’s Bakkerij, a Dutch bakery in Bishop, where we bought several loafs of bread and some preserves. Our final stop was at the Galen Rowell Gallery, who is known for his incredible landscape photography.