MOJAVE DESERT, CA
Saturday, November 29th, 2014
Near the end of 2014, Julia Starr and I set off on a stock photo adventure of grand proportions to California’s beautiful Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains via HWY 395 from the Mojave Desert. This is the longest road trip that we have shared to date. Armed with a considerable array of photography equipment, this trip would definitely go down as one of the great ones.
This adventure had been 4 months in the works! I have a real knack for planning these sorts of trips during times of inclement weather which is precisely what I look for.
As far as photography goes, the more dynamic the weather, the better it is!
Julia had come down to visit for 2 weeks and we got to spend Thanksgiving together as well as her birthday, something I had not had the chance to celebrate with her for 3 years. We had a great time, but we were counting down the days before our huge trip to the Eastern Sierras =)
DAY 01: “Victorville to Lone Pine, CA”
Saturday, November 29th, 2014
Saturday morning was a rush job to finish loading the Starship for take off. There was a lot more gear than we had anticipated, but as usual, there was plenty of room for everything. This would be Julia’s first time traveling to the Eastern Sierras from the South end in the Mojave Desert and my second time traveling that route for photo stock. The last time I headed out this way was in 2009 with SeptemberSky in the blog entry – “MONO LAKE, AN ALIEN WORLD 1 MILLION YEARS IN THE MAKING”, but unfortunately I had fallen ill which cut the trip down to a mere 3 day excursion.
“Packed up and ready to hit the open highway”
The drive to Lone pine would be a 160 mile drive, but I had plans to stop at Fossil Falls, a place that I had never heard of until I researched some places a lot earlier during the planning stages of this trip. Fossil Falls is about 115 miles from Victorville, CA putting it just a tad further than a drive to Baker, CA from the same starting point.
“Just the view of the expansive scenery was enough to make me feel like a kid again”
“After spending a good 2 hours of driving time, we finally arrived at our first stop”
FOSSIL FALLS, CA – ( 35.969946°N 117.908964°W )
Fossil Falls is a geological wonder, the region was literally made by fire and carved by water. Approximately 440,000 years ago, the surrounding area was host to many periods of volcanism. The Coso mountain range to the east of Fossil Falls was a small chain of volcanoes which erupted so often that the area became inundated with thick and slow moving flows of dark basaltic lava.
At one point the gasses and molten material that was trapped underneath the earth exploded in a violent eruption which formed a dramatic looking ‘red’ cinder cone to the north of the area. The expelled material cooled and took on a red hue when it was exposed to air. This red porous rock is known as Scoria.
During the last Ice Age, the Sierra Nevadas were covered with ice and as the ice melted, there was a period of very large lakes formed in the basins between the Eastern Sierra Nevadas and Death Valley. The Owens river flowed south from Owens Lake and Into the Indian Wells Valley.
The activity of volcanic eruptions in the Coso Range changed the course of the river three distinct times and upon flowing over a natural dam made of the volcanic basaltic flows, Fossil Falls was carved. This process sculpted and polished the black rock into it’s present form.
“A large Cinder Cone stands in the distance, icon of a more tumultuous time of this area’s geologic history”
“Julia stands next to a massive chunk of Basalt Rock”
“A lot of the rock in the area seemed porous which signifies that a slower cooling process of the lava took place here”
“Every adventure is always amazing and memorable with this lovely young lady <3 “
After enjoying a small exploratory hike through Fossil Falls, Julia and I hit the road once again. Lone Pine was about 46 miles away from this point, but I had a feeling that we were going to making more stops along the way =)
“Approaching Owens Lake, visible as a light sandy horizontal band in the distant right of this image”
OWENS LAKE, CA – ( 36.320895°N, -117.959095°W )
In 1913, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power diverted the water flow of the rivers and streams that fed Owens Lake which ultimately crated this toxic nightmare of a dry lake. Each year the winds that ravage this area carry as much as 4 million tons of this dust from the lakebed which adversely affect the breathing conditions for those in the near area.
Owens Lake is mostly a dry and has periodic winds that stir up noxious alkali dust storms. It’s revered as the #1 polluter of air quality in the contiguous United States.
“Back on the highway we go!”
“This is where we officially cross from the Mojave to the Sierras”
LONE PINE, CA – ( 36.583147°N, -118.07851°W )
We finally arrived at first night’s stay, the Historic Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine, CA. The surrounding views were amazing and we were all too eager to explore the local Alabama Hills for a sneak peak of what was to come tomorrow. Naturally we were starving, but it didn’t matter, photo scouting with what little light we had left became top priority =)
“Our motel for the night offered a really cool small town vibe and there were plenty of good eats all around”
“The room itself was pretty damn nice for the $79 dollar nightly price tag”
After checking in, Julia and I hit Mt. Whitney Portal Road as we did not want to spend copious amounts of time searching the area for photo ops on the following day.
“A little local artwork…lol”
Julia and I only got in about 30 minutes of scouting before it was too dark to see, so we headed back into town and cruised around trying to figure out what we wanted to eat. Ultimately, we settled on the Mt. Whitney Restaurant which had a lot of John Wayne and old western movie paraphernalia in a down home environment.
“Now THIS is what I’m talking about, the Prius and small car Jockeys think I’m insane for investing 30k in upgrades on my rig, but they will never understand”
“Inside the Mt. Whitney Restaurant”
“A Bacon Double Cheeseburger really hit the spot!”
The other reason I love venturing out with Julia is that she too has a big fascination with rocks, fossils and geological oddities. After a hearty dinner, we took a stroll through downtown Lone Pine and discovered a small gift shop along the way where we discovered all sorts of wonderful rocks.
“Julia having a field day with all the rocks / A fossilized Mosasaur Tooth”
“These Tektites were rather fascinating, I had never known of these”
“After the Rock Shop, we took a stroll down to the Totem Cafe where we enjoyed a slice of homemade pie and a hot tea with a little xmas spirit in the air”
DAY 02: “Lone Pine to Bishop to Mammoth Lakes, CA”
Sunday, November 30th, 2014
“Rise and Shine Lone Pine!”
“We got up just before sunrise and were ready to gorge ourselves at the Alabama Hills Cafe which looked amazing on Yelp!”
“The mural on one of the interior walls gave us a clue of what lies ahead in the Alabama Hills, I take it we ran into Brenda the evening before then?”
“Poor Julia was trying her best not to be groggy, but this breakfast offered great incentive for her being a cute trooper <3”
“We shared the flapjacks, they were quite large”
“Even Julia’s side biscuit was of mammoth proportions!”
MT. WHITNEY PORTAL, CA – ( 36.5874285°N, -118.2139805°W )
After a big breakfast, we walked back to the motel (literally across the street) to freshen up and get our gear ready. We then hit the road for an exploratory photo drive up Mt. Whitney Portal Road and all points along the way. Because of the shadows we wanted to check out the Mt. Whitney area first before heading out to the Alabama Hills.
“Stopping to take a few shots as we approach the tallest peak in the lower 48 states”
“The road was a bit creepy as we ascended in elevation, but totally worth it”
“This is the view of Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills from 7,200ft”
“The only thing better than Mt. Whitney is Mt. Whitney with snow on top”
“Caution – Beware of Bears doing Jumping Jacks and other Active things”
“Once we reached the end of the road, our elevation was pretty significant”
“Our first discovery was a frozen cascading waterfall”
“I had caught a cold 1 day before the trip started and I had to wrap my face to prevent it from becoming walking pneumonia”
“Both of my ladies posing for the camera”
“One last breathtaking view from the Mt. Whitney Portal before heading back.”
ALABAMA HILLS, CA – ( 36.6034923°N, -118.1126547°W )
Lone Pine is home to the famous Alabama Hills in which countless movies were filmed at including one that Julia and I personally love, “Tremors”. Movies have been filmed here since the 1920’s and include titles such as the classic Gunga Din, How the West was Won, The Springfield Rifle, Joe Kidd, The Gene Autry Show, The Lone Ranger T.V. series, Maverick, Iron Man, Gladiator, Transformers 3, and the recent D’jango Unchained. The extremely rugged terrain is what makes the Alabama Hills so alluring for filmmakers.
“The entrance to the Alabama Hills starts here”
“This place has a very alien landscape appeal to it”
“The Alabama Hills are backdropped by Mt. Whitney and friends”
“After a little searching, we found the famous Mobius Arch that we heard so much about”
“I have a feeling that she had a very good time here” =)
After spending most of the Day in the Lone Pine area, we felt it was about time to start heading north to Mammoth where we would stay for the night. The weather report was establishing a winter storm watch in effect and we were driving right alongside an incoming system as we headed northbound. At this point Julia and I were a bit famished and wanted to try a place that a coworker recommended. Our destination was Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop, CA.
“Leaving Lone Pine via 395 North”
“To the west, the approaching winter storm was really making itself present”
MAHOGANY SMOKED MEATS – ( 37.3760404°N, -118.417644°W )
Sandwiches aside, this place was loaded with all sorts of beef jerky which was a tad pricey by the pound, but very well worth the extra cash. I can officially say that I am spoiled on this Jerky now which is both bad and good. Bad because I have to take a whole week off to drive there, but Good because I have to take a whole week off to drive there…lol.
“This is why I enjoy traveling in the off season, the place was nice and empty”
“Julia ordered a specialty sandwich called the Stroke, it looked delish”
“I had a specialty sandwich called the Rodeo which was soooooo good!”
“After a late lunch, we hit the open highway again for our next destination….Mammoth Lakes, CA”
“We checked into our hotel first so that we could relax for a quick bite to eat later, accommodations were not bad at all”
“As we headed out to Angel’s Restaurant, the first of a 3 day winter storm was getting under way”
“Julia and I enjoyed a nice squash soup next to the fireplace”
DAY 03: “Mammoth Lakes to June Lake, CA”
Monday, December 1st, 2014
“The snowfall the night before was just a tease of things to come, the ice crystals on the windshield were neat”
THE STOVE COUNTRY KITCHEN – ( 37.6325417°N, -118.9684231°W )
Julia and I started another early morning with one destination in mind, “The Stove”. I had been to this place one other time back in 2009 with SeptemberSky and it was a nurse in the Mammoth Lakes E.R. who had personally recommended it. It was amazing back then and just as wonderful this time around too. I wanted to treat Julia to a taste of breakfast heaven, so the first activity this morning would be reserved the Stove =D
“I think Julia definitely approved of this wonderful feast!”
“Although I was still dealing with a cold, I was one very happy guy”
After a hearty breakfast at the Stove, Julia and I ran back to our hotel to check out and get our gear ready for another long day out on the open highway. Before leaving town however, I wanted to stop by a local bakery named Schat’s that was owned by a relative of Eric Schat’s bakery back in Bishop, CA.
“Schat’s Bakery, Mammoth Lakes, CA”
“So many wonderful treats to choose from…”
“These Raspberry Bear Claws looked sooooo good, and they had extra toes too”
“In the end, Julia and I were good and just split a single maple bar with some nice hot tea”
“On the road to June Lake, CA”
As we headed into June Lake, we had made a few casual stops at curious places. Julia was all smiles and that makes me feel awesome ^_^
One of the stops we made was at the southwest end of Grant Lake which had a strange red algae growing across the shoreline.
HEIDELBERG INN – ( 37.776836°N, -119.0749974°W )
The next hotel we booked at was the Heidelberg Inn, a German themed place that has a huge history of celebrity visits. Although we were a few hours early for check in, the host was more than happy to let us have an early check in after a few moments. When it was ready, we discovered that our room was more of an apartment and was by far the nicest lodging thus far. I literally could have lived there and been happy.
“The interior lobby area was beautiful and a perfect place to enjoy a hot tea and a treat by the fire when the snow really hits”
“The kitchen was a nice surprise and that bathroom OMG, so very nice”
“The bed was not a king, but still comfy to sleep in”
“We explored the balcony and pool area and found this sign…lol”
After a quick tour and settling in with all our stuff, Julia and I decided t take a trip down some unexplored territory beyond South Tufa Beach along HWY 120. We did not know what to expect, but we wanted to take it all the way out to HWY 6 and then take that South to Bishop where we would have a late lunch and drive HWY 395 back up north to June Lake again.
“Stopped over south of Mono Lake along HWY 120”
“Our first stop was in a curious field of gravel and there were lots of cool tiny purple plants and Julia found a piece of obsidian!”
“A lone pine tree grows out of a field of gravel”
“I am just having one hell of a good time out here!”
“Miss kitty takes over and gets some piloting hours in the Starship for a little while”
“The White Mountains emerge in the distance, these are the Sierra Nevada’s 14k rivals”
“This section of HWY 120 had more aesthetic beauty than I ever imagined”
“After hitting up the sleepy town of Benton, we hopped on HWY 6 south back to Bishop with the White Mountains at our side”
“Julia captures one of the last bits of sunlight for the day”
We rolled into Bishop for a super late lunch and wanted to try out one of the local places for Tri Tip, Holy Smoke Texas Style BBQ. Although the cuts were good, the portion was small and there was too much of a ‘smokey’ flavor in the meat. Tried drowning it in BBQ sauce, but I could still taste it, oh well. As we stuffed our faces, I received a winter storm alert which made me super excited for the days to come =D
“Julia and I have been looking forward to this approaching Winter Storm”
DAY 04: “June Lake Snow Day!”
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
After getting back to the lodge, we decided not to take any chances on driving to Mammoth for breakfast in this weather and instead took a nice little stroll to the general store for some groceries to make breakfast with. Good thing our room came with a small kitchen and utensils =D
“SNOW = NO DRIVE TO BREAKFAST!”
“Walking to the general store was very cold, but fun as hell!”
“We stayed in that morning and had a pretty good breakfast”
“After breakfast, we went outside for a quick portrait session”
“The snow was really starting to fall quite hard for a while”
Julia and I enjoyed most of the day in our cozy lodge, but eventually wanted to get out for activity. The snow had finally calmed down around 2pm and we wanted to try taking a chance at getting out to Mammoth for some dinner among other things.
I had spoken to one of the ladies at the front desk about attempting a drive to Mammoth without chains and she had said that as long as I don’t spin out and get stuck, I won’t get a ticket from the CHP. Ultimately she advised against it, but I wanted to go anyway…lol
“The snow piled high enough to cover my license plate, not too bad”
“The scenery was absolutely beautiful”
“Taking a chance to Mammoth Lakes for Dinner without chains”
“Complete and total concentration was required to get to Mammoth Lakes safe and sound”
After a slow and slippery 20 mile trek on the snow blasted HWY 395, Julia and I stopped at Schat’s Bakery yet again to grab some goodies for the night in case we get snowed in. June Lake is great when the town’s shops are open, but during this time in Winter, only the Tiger Bar and the General store are open for business whereas Mammoth is booming with business.
“Getting after those sweet tooth snacks for later”
“A slice of this carrot cake was definitely coming home with us!”
“The chocolate custard filled eclairs looked fantastic, but we took a slice of German chocolate cake home instead”
“A really nice gentleman offered to take a photo of Julia and I after he saw me struggling to do it…lol”
After looking around through a couple of the shops nearby, we headed out for dinner and Julia found a place called Mammoth Tavern which was a really nice restaurant/pub set up on the second floor of a small plaza center and the interior was very cozy. We were seated by one of the really large windows and watched as the remaining daylight conceded to the approaching night. Naturally the temperature dropped fast and we were happily staying warm for a most tasty dinner =)
“Mammoth Tavern had a very nice atmosphere”
“The Ribeye Platter was petite, but absolutely delicious!”
DAY 05: “Day Trip to Bridgeport, CA”
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
This morning, we awoke to find that the Snow Storm had settled just enough for us to make a big escape northbound on HWY 395 all the way to Bridgeport and all stops in between up the Conway Summit pass. Breakfast was fast with the rest of the groceries we had bought the morning before, so as soon as we finished eating and cleaned up or the day, we saddled all our gear into the Startship and sped off in search of today’s photographic bounty =)
“As we hopped on HWY 395, we were treated to a rainbow as we escaped the snow cloud covered mountains of June Lake”
THAT 395 HOUSE – ( 37.899520°N, -119.093978°W )
This house along with the smaller house in the background don’t seem have much information about them let alone proper names. I’ve been trying to dig up info on this house, but cannot seem to find any.
“This is one of Julia’s discoveries from our last Sierra venture, the Instagram community calls this, That 395 House”
“This place definitely gets the Indigo seal of approval!”
“June lake typically has two access points, the northern access was closed due to snow. Julia having a great time is always a smile for me”
YOSEMITE WINTER CLOSURE GATE HWY 120 – ( 37.93092°N, -119.166089°W )
These gates close every year from the first Autumn snow to late Spring the following year due to massive snow pack along Hwy 120(aka Tioga Pass). It can take months for the highway crews to clear the Tioga Pass through northern Yosemite as the snow depth can easily reach 12ft and with good portions of the highway traversing elevations of 8,000 – 10,000ft, the massive snow barriers can be very formidable.
“Apparently the gates were shut on Thursday, November 13th, 2014”
“Although the gates are closed to vehicles, there is no restriction on foot traffic, this kind stranger made a great model for scale”
MONO BASIN VISITOR CENTER “CLOSED” – ( 37.966893°N, -119.120213°W )
After leaving the closure at HWY 120, Julia and I hopped back onto HWY 395 and decided to make a quick stop at the Mono Basin Visitor Center to check out some of the views from there and possibly talk to a ranger to see what was new. Unfortunately the placed was shut down for the season so there wasn’t a single person in sight.
“We were the only two people there…”
“Julia is standing next to a massive chunk of obsidian, created when lava cools so fast that bubbles and crystals cannot form”
“Closed for the season”
The Mono Craters are part of a much larger chain of volcanic craters, domes, and lava flows that stretch for 25 miles from the north shore of Mono all the way to Mammoth Mountains itself. The last known activity of these craters was recorded as having occurred as recent as 600 years ago. Most of the magma chambers that generated these geological features are linked to the Long Valley Caldera which exploded violently approximately 750,000 years ago. In 1980, a series of earthquakes and tectonic uplift within and south of the Long Valley Caldera indicated a renewed activity occurring in the area
“A rare sight for me, the snow capped Mono Craters of Mono Basin”
“The view of the now snow covered White Mountains to the Southeast was gorgeous!”
“Looking back south as we make our ascent to Conway Summit”
CONWAY SUMMIT – ( 38.0762189°N, -119.176658°W )
“Conway Summit, Elevation 8,143ft”
“The view from the top of Conway Summit is one of the best views in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas”
“The road to Bridgeport. Seems like the snow didn’t really touchdown around here”
BRIDGEPORT, CA – ( 38.261528°N, -119.222766°W )
The town of Bridgeport in California is a sleepy little town that Julia and I discovered on our 2013 Sierra Adventure. We watched a great 4th of July fireworks show there and found many wonderful photo opportunities. The backdrop of massive granite Sierras compliment the lush fields that surround the town of Bridgeport and really make for a great scenic view from just about anywhere in town.
“The central hub of Bridgeport is this beautiful courthouse”
“Julia has a real knack for taking some really cool reflective shots”
“This sign was just outside of a shop that was unfortunately closed for the season”
“Lunch options were limited as approx. 80% of the town’s businesses were closed for the season”
“J’s on the Corner served up a surprisingly delicious French Dip Sandwich and Garlic Cheese Fries”
“After a hearty lunch, Julia and I began shooting the scenery around town”
“Julia can be a real trooper in really cold weather, but even she must escape to the warmth of the Starship on occasion…lol”
“We began our journey back south in high pursuit as we raced the shadow of the Sierras”
“One last amazing photo from Conway Summit as the shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains encroaches”
“We had passed our lodge and decided to take one last trip to Mammoth before checking out tomorrow morning”
“Of course we had to visit Schat’s Bakery for the third and final time”
“Julia and I split a giant Raspberry Facehugger…lol”
“A toast to another magnificently planned adventure”
DAY 06: “June Lake to Bishop, CA”
Thursday, December 4th, 2014
GULL LAKE – ( 37.777851°N, -119.080871°W )
For the last couple of days after the snow first fell on June Lake, I had wanted to recreate a photo I had taken in 2009 of Carson Peak. I waited patiently for some of the snow clouds to clear and reveal that beautiful mountain and just when I thought that I would not get the chance, the clouds cleared a bit to reveal Carson peak! The timing was too perfect as this was our morning checkout from the Heidelberg Inn.
“Setting up for a most glorious photo op”
“I finally snapped a shot of Carson Peak that was most satisfying”
“Julia and I used our last loaf of bread to feed these lovely lady ducks”
“Tapping into her inner child…”
“After wrapping up at Gull Lake, we sped off to Silver Lake to see what other great shots we could gather”
“Julia working it to get those amazing photos!”
“The light coming through the clouds produced some rather dreamy-like effects”
“The backdrop setting for Gull Lake was pure ecstacy”
“Playing on an empty highway”
“Farewell oh beautiful June Lake, we shall see you again in the near future!”
“A new snow covered Mt. Lewis was looking quite impressive!”
“As we left June Lake for the last time, Julia and I stopped at ‘That 395 House’ for one last set of photos”
“Shooting the Shooter”
“Heading south on HWY 395 near Mammoth Lakes was putting us back into the snow cloud cover, but what a sight it was!”
“As we split off the main highway, Laurel Mountain presented a really nice photo op”
HOT CREEK GEOTHERMAL AREA – ( 37.6576286°N, -118.8266645°W )
The entire Eastern area of the Sierra Nevada was host to a lot of volcanic activity and thus created many hot springs. Hot Creek is one example of an extreme hot spring where the water can go from hot to boiling in seconds. The Earth’s crust underneath California can range from 15 miles thick at the coast up to 34 miles thick under the Sierra Nevada range. The spot underneath Hot Creek is only 3 miles thick as the result of an ancient magma plume that has melted its way through the crust in that region.
“Apparently we were not the first to tread here after the recent snowfall”
“The view of Hot Creek from the top of the ridge line”
“This sign is not exaggerating, the water here is seriously boiling”
“Steam, Steam, and yet more Steam!”
“This creek had one of the most beautiful backdrops that I have ever seen”
“Beautiful rock formations littered the length of this creek”
“There is just something about a snow covered landscape that puts me at peace”
“Heading out and stopping to shoot all along the way…lol”
“On the way back to HWY 395, we stopped for some pics of Mt. Morrison”
“Leaving the Mammoth Lakes area, Mt. Tom and the surrounding range come into view.”
“Mt. Tom is Bishop’s own giant sentinel, watching over all year long at a height of 13,652ft”
LAWS RAILROAD MUSEUM – ( 37.4006285°N, -118.346293°W )
As we sped to arrive in the Bishop area, Julia and I wanted to fit one last stop into our day and with just one hour of light left we stopped at Laws Railroad Museum which we had spotted on the way back from Day 03’s travel along Hwy 6.
This 11 acre outdoor museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Owens Valley and Eastern Sierra region. With only an hour of light, Julia and I got in there and donated twice the recommended amount at the front, which I believe was about $5 a person, so I felt a single Jackson was good =)
This is Engine Number 9, it reminded me of an old rhyme I used as a kid when preparing to play a game of Hide and Seek. The rhyme went like this: “Engine, Engine Number Nine, going down Chicago Line, if the train falls off the track, do you want your money back?” =P
“There were many building exhibits, most of which you could walk right into and get a feel for what life was like back in the 1800’s”
“Julia and I checked out the Saloon right away… very cool stuff!”
“Selfies with an iPhone are cool, but….”
“The Canon DSLR is our selfie cam of choice…lol!, Gotta love a girl who loves to shoot!”
“These were the living quarters of early miners”
“The General Store was full of all sorts of very old products and many other curiosities”
“We found this oddity in a building next to the General Store”
“Snagged one more shot of Engine Number 9 before checking out the school house”
“This school house and some of its rooms were very well preserved. The classroom looked fantastic!”
“Julia had pointed this out and it sounded very disturbing until I read it again and said, Oh, I get it now”
“Some games and toys from another time”
“Apparently the man known as ‘Ozzy’ had a very positive influence on the lives of the students”
“We snapped a few more shots and began our short drive into Bishop for a very late lunch”
“The Burger Barn was listed as a great place on Yelp, so we stopped here to give it a try”
“Julia and I tried a double cheeseburger and fries. Not too bad, meat was a bit bland, but the seasoned fries made up for it”
DOWNTOWN BISHOP, CA – ( 37.3670995°N, -118.395891°W )
After a good hearty meal at the Burger Barn, we headed downtown to check into what would be our last night in the Eastern Sierras. The Creekside Inn turned out to be quite a nice place to lodge at. The meals served for Breakfast and Dinner were pretty damn good. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of our room (I was pretty exhausted by this point and forgot), but I did get a nice pic of their lobby =)
The best part about where we were staying was the fact that it was literally neighbors with the Original Eric Schaat’s Bakkery! They posted signs out front to visitors about taking photos inside. Basically they said no photography allowed inside, but screw that nonsense, it was great inside. Julia and I didn’t really get anything, but just wanted to take a quick look around before heading out.
I had to fuel up before tomorrow and found the cheapest fuel which just happened to be next to the Paiute Casino, so naturally we went inside for a bit and Julia was definitely feeling lucky. She scored $76.50 off a $20 dollar run!…”Way to go Julia!” =D
DAY 07: “Final Day of Exploration”
Friday, December 5th, 2014
We checked out of our room today and prepared for a long day of adventure before the long drive home. I wanted to take Julia to explore the mountains directly to the west by way of Route 168. I had learned that there was a lake called ‘Lake Sabrina’ there and wanted to see what we could find along the way.
“Having an early morning breakfast before the long journey”
The drive up to Lake Sabrina was proving to be quite a significant increase in elevation, we were at 8,000ft here”
“We were about 2 miles from the lake when out of nowhere… ROAD CLOSED!”
We took a small drive back to explore a road that we had passed on the way up, but stopped at a small frozen lake first. The name of this place was simply “Intake 2” so I imagine it was part of a mini hydroelectric operation nearby.
“This amazing Sun Halo was in the sky for a short while”
“The frozen portions of the lake near the small pier appeared to have a strange ‘vein’ effect happening”
“Julia scored one of our favorite plants, Sage! I took a two small branches and made a guiding icon with a piece of pumice rock I found earlier”
BISHOP CREEK, CA – ( 37.2341801°N, -118.5647026°W )
After taking some photos at ‘Intake 2’ we drove to the small road that we were curious about and discovered the small town of Bishop Creek. As we approached the other end of town, we stopped at a makeshift “Road Closed” sign. I had to give this some thought because I did not have a C.B. Radio, a Winch, or Snow Chains and knew that if this highway got really icy, I could chance swerving off the highway or getting stuck.
Realizing this was our last day for adventure, I felt that it was not the time for doubt and pressed onward =)
“Despite the warning, we cruised around the sign and explored deeper into the snowy mountains”
“As we drove on, the highway became snow covered as expected, so this was going to get very interesting”
“We made a pit stop next to a really neat bridge by the creek”
“The sign stated that the fancy bridge was the start of the Tyee Lakes trailhead, also some Bighorns running from the law”
“We began our drive again and as we got near 10,000ft of elevation, the snow on the road started to show signs of retreat”
“We continued the drive until we hit the end of the road.”
SOUTH LAKE – ( 37.1711628°N, -118.5662137°W )
This was as far as we would ever be able to travel on HWY 168 this side of the Sierra Nevada. Our stop ended at the top of the parking lot with a 9,838ft! This was officially the highest elevation we achieved throughout the last seven days of this excellent Sierra venture =D
South Lake appeared to be a type of reservoir which by the looks of it, had been depleted quite a bit over the duration of 2014, but hopefully that would change with more snowfall.
“It’s over 9,000!!!”
“The Starship and her Captain”
“The dam section of this Lake looked relatively new”
“Julia taking a gander to see if she can spot any wildlife across the other side of the lake”
“The scenery was absolutely beautiful and extremely quiet, almost too quiet as we were the only people there”
“It started to get very cold due to a strong wind blowing through the area, so we started our way back”
“My rig held up pretty damn good for not having ice tires or chains”
“As we left the mountains, we made a quick stop to hike up a hill and get some photos of the scenery”
“Somebody was having a good time”
“Single motion pan from Mt. Tom to Bishop, CA”
From this point, Julia and I made some serious tracks from Bishop to Lone Pine for a fast lunch and some last minute pick up shots at Alabama Hills with what little hours of light we had left. We made it to Lone Pine just in time to catch a most tasty lunch at our new favorite place, the Alabama Hills Cafe.
“French Dips hit the spot just right”
“The overcast day here really helped get a better exposure”
“Julia was making her way around the rock formations like a agile and feisty kitty”
“The famous Mobius Arch”
After shooting the landscape at Alabama Hills, we wanted to get shots of Mt. Whitney with snow on it’s peak, but unfortunately it was hidden in a dense snow cloud cover. Regardless we wanted to see how far up Mt. Whitney Portal Rd. we could get, but the clouds got very dense.
“This was about as far as we could go due to the approaching sunset”
“Definitely a bit of a creepy drive at over 7,000ft”
We drove back down toward Alabama Hills and took one last side road. This time it was a break off point onto Horseshoe Meadows Rd. which inevitably takes you on a very steep set of switchbacks to Horseshoe Meadows located up high in the mountains.
“The road to Horseshoe Meadows”
“We drove up Horseshoe Meadows road to see how far we could get, but alas, it was cut short again”
This was our last stop as the sun was finally dipping behind the massive Sierra Nevada range and that was our queue to start heading home. This was by far the largest road trip I have ever done. Having great company really made this trip a gem for me, so I have to thank fellow photographer Julia Starr for inspiring such an amazing travel experience, “Road Trips with you are the absolute best!” <3
“See you on the next venture!”…
Until then, thanks for visiting and remember to always “Shoot the Planet!”
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