I spent the third weekend in October in the Eastern Sierras and just like almost every other time I’m out enjoying nature, I was assured that there’s something greater than me. We didn’t create the wonder around us so we should be doing our damnedest to take care of the animals, insects, plants, trees, air, water, land, human beings and everything else that make up this Earth we call home.
Something Greater Than Me I'm a drifting stranger In the land of the not so free Where there's never care for a real reason In a reckless society Where a poor man can't have equality Or his offspring, a bright morrow And the fight takes toll on the dying bones Leaving almost nowhere to go, (no no) oh … So I must believe (That there's something greater than me) To keep up the fight I just got to see (That there's something greater than me) Take your head out the clouds and look till you see (That there's something greater than me) Jail me wrongfully and I'll still be free (Cause there's something greater than me) (Edwin Yearwood, 1996)
You don’t have to hike 10 miles into the wilderness to be fully immersed in nature. You can even enjoy it immensely with other people around you. Sometimes it comes down to timing or serendipity. Sometimes it’s a massive wildfire. Sometimes it’s a change in wind direction. On the weekend of my first trip to the Eastern Sierras to see the fall colours, it was all of those things, but nature … gotta love it. Neither fire, smoke, nor a fall blocked the beauty or spoiled our fun. So this post is
all about okay, mostly about the photos.
The Creek fire (west of Mammoth in Madera and Fresno Counties, by Oct. 25, burned 360,834 acres and 61% contained) meant that many Mammoth area trails in Inyo National Forest were closed, as was the access road to the Devils Postpile National Monument, so we knew in advance that some of our activities had to change.
On our first full day, smoke blanketing the Mammoth area pushed us south to Bishop to see the fall colours a day earlier than planned, but what a great day turned out to be! Our stops were North Lake and Lake Sabrina in Bishop Creek Canyon. On the second day, we drove north through the smoke a bit to get to Mono Lake and June Lake Loop.
Epic fall – with no photographic, audio or video evidence, did it actually happen? If this epic fall really happened, it would’ve been like this. It was during a water crossing at North Lake. One member of the party of three crossed the water safe and dry but got some mud on their boot. Decided to rinse it off (without removing boot from foot) with a helping hand from another. Foot with said muddy boot then got submerged in a deeper set of mud, resulting in much shrieking, increased heart rate (not the boot wearer’s), fall (on dry ground), wet pants leg, and wet and muddier boot. Fortunately, the helping hand was a strong one and both people avoided a full tumble into the water. The third member of the party (the one with increased heart rate) opted to take another route out of the water. You had to be there. It was epic. If it really happened. But I digress from the photos 😁.
Mono Lake is gorgeous, but we only spent a short time there because one of the areas we wanted to see was not accessible. In August this year a lightning strike started the Beach fire in the South Tufa Area of Mono Lake (InciWeb, 2020). At 3,780 acres, this was a small wildfire by California standards, but serious enough to damage a large part of the park. Since the fire, the South Tufa Area has been closed and no visitor access, even by foot, is allowed. We spent most of our time viewing the lake from outside the Visitor Center. The interpretation of the lake and native plants around the center is very well done.
June Lake Loop
What’s in a name? When not just a lake, but an entire, 14-mile scenic loop is named after your birth month you have to visit, photograph, video and muse about it. We didn’t make it to June Lake on Saturday for the golden hour (a magical time for photographers – real ones, not amateurs like me) but we did end up doing the entire loop on Sunday and it was simply beautiful. The Loop comprises Grant, Silver, Gull, and June Lakes. We stopped at Aerie Crag Day Use Area, Silver Lake and of course June Lake.
The one blemish to the weekend came in the form of an ignorant woman who let her prejudice show and was subsequently admonished by her young daughter. The incident was at June Lake beach. As we were preparing to leave I stopped to use the restroom. My friends had already told me that there were no bins in the restroom and people had put their trash on the floor. While I was waiting, I heard a woman explaining to her youngish daughters that it was people from other countries who were responsible, cause ya know, other cultures are different. The older daughter told her to stop being political. ‘Political’ is not the word I would’ve used, so I decided that I would rather keep my peace than use the restroom.
This incident was a reminder (unnecessary because we don’t need to be reminded) that like everywhere else, the outdoors are not free from the racism that pervades this country. But 🤬that! My friends and I are out here recreating and our presence will always show the racists that Black Lives Matter in the outdoors too. And not just Black Lives, but Native American Lives and the Lives of Other People of Colour. As I said, this was a mere blemish. It certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying the end of our trip 😊.