Lee Vining, CA
On Wednesday morning we drove south of our RV park here in Lee Vining to explore the June Lake Scenic Loop, a loop road about 15 miles long that passes by a number of beautiful lakes. But first we needed to fill the Jeep’s tank with fuel, a painful experience in the mountains of California!
About twelve miles south of Lee Vining we turned west on to the loop road. After about a mile the road crests a hill and June Lake comes into view.
At the Boulder Lodge we stopped to get a close-up view of the lake. No need to guess where the lodge gets its name.
A few miles further around the loop we spotted some water spilling over the rocks above us. A little research revealed it to be Horseshoe Falls.
A closer look reveals the waterfall. The drought has taken a toll on the waterfall as a brochure we looked at had pictured it with a large volume of water flowing over the rocks.
We drove a bit further before stopping for a view of Silver Lake. Silver Lake is a beautiful little body of water and was completely full, in contrast to the next lake on our route.
Just a few miles further along the loop, we came over a rise in the road where a dirt parking area had a sign stating it was the Grant Lake viewing point. But as you can see in the photo below, most of the lake is gone! Friends, Dave and Sue, who are travelling with us, were here two years ago and picnicked along the shore of the lake right below the viewing area. This year they had another picnic, but this time they were right in the middle of the dry lake bed at a point where they would have been submerged in about twenty feet of water or more in their previous visit.
Just past Grant Lake we turned off the June Lake Loop Road on to a dirt road leading west to the Parker Lake Trailhead.
The Parker Lake Trail is about two miles one way, leading to Parker Lake, located right at the base of the mountains.
We give this trail a “moderate” difficulty rating due to some elevation gain in the first half of the hike. But the beautiful view of snow covered mountains in front of us made the climb a bit easier.
The second half of the hike is fairly level and goes through stands of Aspens and tall pines.
The size of some of the Ponderosa Pines along the trail is pretty impressive.
The end of the trail provides one of those “Oh My!” moments, with the lake in the foreground and the mountains in the background.
We returned back to the Jeep and headed south for 25 miles on US-395 to visit the Hot Creek Geological Site. As we approached the site a beautiful range of snow-covered mountains appeared in the distance.
Mammoth Creek, which flows through the nearby town of Mammoth Lakes, changes its name to Hot Creek in Hot Creek Gorge. There it intersects a series of faults that provide pathways to the surface for heated (geothermal) water flowing in an aquifer several hundred feet beneath the surface. Pools along the creek here contain water at temperatures just under 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are numerous “no swimming” signs along the creek and fences keeping people back. The pictures below, taken from a USGA website on volcano hazards, explains why swimming in the creek at this spot is a bad idea.
After a long day hiking and exploring we were treated to a great meal by our friends, Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure). It’s a tough life but, hey, somebody has to live it!