Northeastern Sierra – Finding Fall (10/14)

I love exploration and firsts. My senses are on high alert as I absorb fresh stimuli. It can be overwhelming, so I slow down, pace myself, find a way to enjoy the many new wonders without succumbing to the pull of seeing and doing everything. It’s good motivation to make notes and save more firsts for future trips.

Beyond firsts are my love of fall foliage. Combining the two provides nothing by smiles.

First #1 – Driving Highway 89 from Quincy south to Donner Lake, followed by a hike on the PCT between Highway 40 and Interstate 80. Smiles abound when I’m among granite boulders backdropped by views of Donner Lake, the train tunnels, old bridges, crooked trees and so much more. I’m thrilled to finish this small section of the PCT I’d missed when I hiked from Highway 50 north a couple of years ago. I can now mark Section K DONE!

Donner Lake from the PCT

First #2 – Driving Highway 89 south from Highway 50 to Hope Valley for a little Leaf Peeping.

A tapestry of color in Hope Valley

First #3 – Driving Highway 88 west from 89 to Carson Pass, followed by a hike to Lake Winnemuca including a bit of trail sharing with the PCT, views of Elephants Back and Round Top Mountains, and my first time into the Mokelumne Wilderness.

First #4 – Driving 89 south through Markleeville and over Monitor Pass to 395, continuing south past Sonora Junction and finally down to Bridgeport. This became ground zero of sorts as I explored the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Hoover Wilderness.

Twin Lakes and Sawtooth Ridge (I think)

Red Lake and Black Mountain (I think) in the Virginia Lakes Canyon

Kavanaugh Ridge (I think)

Dunderberg Peak (I think)

Lundy Canyon

Green Creek Canyon

Green Lake

Looking down on Green Lake enroute to West Lake

Travertine Hot Springs

First #5 – Continuing my journey south on 395, I find Mono Lake. What fun I had exploring the many wonders of the Mono Lake Basin.

Mono Lake from Panum Crater

Tufa statues at South Tufa Park

Sunset near South Tufa Park

Sunrise near South Tufa Park

The colors in the surrounding mountains are phenomenal

First #6 – Introductions to Inyo National Forest, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Lee Vining, Tioga Pass (120W) and 158 (aka June Lake Loop) along 395.

The magical colors Parker Creek Canyon

Parker Lake

The rocks that make for the magical colors of the mountains

Parker Lake and Mono Lake (with the high winds of the day apparent on Paoha Island).

Mono Lake on the left, Mono Craters on the right. Fierce winds and mid-day sun challenged this photographer.

This was a grand adventure of firsts, with many more firsts further south awaiting exploration.

Jan’s Tips:

  • Due to bear activity and the proximity of these areas to Yosemite, in most areas food cannot be left in your vehicle at trailheads or campgrounds. Bear boxes are rarely available at trailheads outside of Yosemite, and when present they are of limited size and most likely need to be shared with other hikers. In some areas, you’ll be cited and fined if food is found in your vehicle. I’ve been a witness to the damage a bear can cause a vehicle and the associated repair costs. I found this to be an unwelcome challenge when attempting to combine car camping, exploring, day hiking and backpacking and accessing the area quite a distance from home base.
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8 thoughts on “Northeastern Sierra – Finding Fall (10/14)

    • Thank you! I’m looking forward to exploring further south on my next trip and next time I’ll be better prepared for a few backpack trips. The food in the car caused me quite the angst this time. Dispersion camping was phenomenal.

    • Thanks! I was really disappointed in the first Tufa I visited at County Park (looked like cement gobs) although I enjoyed learning about lake levels and history there. When I found South Tufa Park I was in awe. Then when I found a nearby location to stealth camp with sunset and sunrise views, I was in heaven.

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