The Aspen Goldrush – Silver Lake Instameet 2016

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Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Enter the height of Autumn in the Eastern Sierra Nevada and you get scenes of aspen gold littering the alluvial fans and lakesides from Lone Pine to Lava Springs and beyond. As an avid fan and frequent visitor of California’s beautiful granite backyard, I learned that Josh Wray of Visit Mammoth had assembled the third in a series of Instameet socials to be held at Silver Lake this year and I wanted in. The popular Instameet events are a free and open invitation to all who love photography. They’re a great way to meet new people, share ideas, and make fantastic memories. There is no restriction on camera equipment needed to attend, in fact you can even shoot with your phone if you like, all are welcome.

“Highway 395 is without a doubt the best stretch of highway in California in my opinion,”

Silver Lake, CA

GPS Coordinates: 37.7830598° N, 119.1439037° W

Located at the Silver Lake boat launch, Josh Wray of Visit Mammoth and his crew set up tables topped with free swag, breakfast burritos, and coffee compliments of Black Velvet Coffee in Mammoth. It was about 48ºF that morning so unless you were dressed accordingly, you would certainly be feeling it. Photo patrons began to arrive by the dozen and before long, we had a full on gathering of sizable proportions. This was my first time attending and so far it was showing a lot of promise.

“Free swag, breakfast burritos, and coffee for all who attended!”

“Capturing Carson Peak just as the sun begins to break into a new day.”

I’ve been visiting the Eastern Sierra Nevada for years and the June Lake Loop region is always a vital stopping point for me. Silver Lake is just one of a few scenic lakes in this area and with good reason. The surrounding granite peaks make a gorgeous backdrop wether they are snow capped or not. When I learned that this Instameet was going to be held here, I knew I had to partake. Every person I met there was friendly and had an interesting story to tell of their travels and experiences with photography. Some were simply visiting from nearby Mammoth Lakes while others had traveled from as far as Minnesota. I myself drove from the Mojave Desert and regardless of that unmistakable desert heat, I will always consider myself a full fledged ‘Chionophile‘ which is why I often find myself traveling along this wonderful stretch of the 395.

“Before getting started, a few rules regarding proper outdoor etiquette for those who were not familiar.”

After an informative speech on the basic rules of ‘leave no trace‘ and some very tasty breakfast, it was time to take a stroll and hunt down some of the hidden treasures that were waiting to be captured around the shores of Silver Lake. Everyone had a camera in hand and photos were in no shortage as our group captured images of everything and everyone who was willing to model for our shots. It was a great to see so many genuine smiles that day.

“Our volunteers for the firing squad line up across the rocks on a northeast outlet of Silver Lake.”

“Shutter speed check!, Aperture set!, …Cheese!”

Our models were getting quite the physical workout that morning. There’s no better way to burn those breakfast burrito calories off than repeatedly hopping up and down on the river rocks at the request of half a dozen photographers. I can only imagine the photos everyone was getting. I myself stepped into the action a little late, but I did manage to score a few shots before it was over. The weather yesterday was very stormy and the same was forecasted for tomorrow, but today was the break in the storm. Nothing but sunshine and mostly clear skies from dawn to dusk.

“I managed to get in a shot myself just before we disbanded.”

I separated from the main group to take in some of the beautiful sights this region had to offer and although I’ve been here on quite a few ventures in the past, every day of the year ushers in a unique moment in time for the capturing. I can only imagine the insane beauty that I miss out on during the broad gaps of my absence. Someday I would like to make a home here, but in the meantime capturing all the beauty during my brief visits will have to suffice.

“I could not help but stare in awe at the beautiful aspen gold against a clear blue sierra sky.”

“I have officially dubbed this stretch of highway Aspen Row.”

“Exploring other areas of the June Lake Loop yielded more of that autumn gold splendor.”

“Just north of Silver Lake is a sporadically littered aspen forest.”


“From within the aspen tree line, a different view of Carson Peak reveals itself.”


“Looking up, a small patch of aspen mimics a mountainside goldrush.”

“After a solid 4 hours, everyone was ready to go fuel up and decompress at the June Lake Brewery.”

I had a lot of fun and met so many good folks that I lost track of time and realized that 4 hours had already passed. The instameet was a great experience which I would highly recommend to any photographer or fan of photography. Finding a great social event like this is rare and more so, finding one that was engaged by so good spirited folks makes it all the richer. I am certainly looking forward to more of these instameet gatherings, but for now it was time to say farewell and thank you for a great experience.

“One giant group shot!, photo made possible by Josh Wray of


Until the next travel blog, remember to get out there and “Shoot the Planet!”



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