Now that we’ve made it to California the plan is to slowly make our way down California’s famed Hwy 395, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We’ve been hearing from numerous other travelers how wonderful this route is and are excited to experience it for ourselves. We thought our first stop would be at the Oh Ridge NF campground on the shore of June Lake- but our government had other ideas. Too bad because we drove over to check it out, and it was awesome. Guess we now have the prefect excuse to come back some other time when it’s open. It all worked out in the end though, thanks to the wonderful generosity of our fellow RVrs and blog readers who shared numerous free camping options in the area. The spot where we ended up is not far from June Lake. What it lacks in lake views, it more than makes up for it with this fabulous view of the mountains.
It’s been very peaceful here and the location is convenient to everything we wanted to see in the area. Number one on that list was Mono Lake. I am not going to bore you with the details of this very, very old, very, very salty lake and how the city of Los Angeles nearly sucked it dry and ruined it forever along with some prime bird nesting grounds. What I will tell you is that since 1994 efforts have been in place to restore the water level of the lake, yet due to drought and other factors that goal has not been met nearly 20 years later. I will also tell you that the low water level of the lake has exposed an incredible landscape of tufa towers lining the shoreline. These limestone formations grow underwater and can reach as much as 30 feet tall!
One afternoon we drove over to the Mono Lake South Tufa trail to check out these bizzare formations in person. We followed the winding trail through a maze of tufa and marveled at these wonders of nature.
The forest service has a fire tower at the top of the mountain as well as a warming hut for hikers. There was no one up there when we visited, but we peaked inside to find a cozy looking woodstove and lots of evidence of previous visitors.
Too bad the wood stove wasn’t going, because it was cold and windy on top of that mountain! We stuck around long enough to watch the sunset over the mountains and then hopped back in the truck and drove home with the heat blasting.
Since we’ve never been to this part of California before it’s hard to say for certain, but I suspect this might be one of the most beautiful times of year to visit. The fall colors have been incredible. I always miss my old home in Vermont the most in the fall when the northeast explodes with firey reds, oranges and yellows. Unlike last year when we spent the fall on the Oregon coast, which had its own charm for sure but not much in the way of fall color, this year I feel like I am truly exepeincing all that fall has to offer. Check out these golden Aspens!
Of course, if living in the northeast has taught us anything about fall, it’s how quickly the weather can change. Apparently the same holds true over here in the high California mountains. After many days in a row of bright sun and warm temperatures yesterday morning we awoke to this.
It wasn’t a complete surprise since snow was in the forecast, but it wasn’t supposed to start until mid-day, so waking up to find it already on the ground was unexpected. It snowed for most of the day, but since the temperature was hovering around the freezing mark it didn’t add up to much. That is until around 4:00 when when the temps dropped a few degrees, the flakes fell faster, and the snow started to pile up.
This morning the sun is out, and athough it’s still below 30 right now, the temps are supposed to climb into the 50s this afternoon, so I am sure it will all melt away before the day is over.
Guess this means we need to head south!