After waiting some time in Mexico for borders to reopen, it started to seem like quarantine was far from over. With no signs of corona slowing down in central and south america, I decided return to the US. I had been wanting to visit the Sierra Nevadas for some time, and I wanted to take advantage of the remaining summer to see them.
The Mammoth Lakes area is a resort area in the Inyo National forest that’s open year round. There are a lot of activities to do here. I decided to hike the Mammoth Crest – Duck Pass Loop. I thought the 14 mile loop would be a good warm-up for the Sierras after being stuck inside for a few months. I was a little unprepared for the dry heat and sun exposure of the Sierras, so it was good experience before taking on the bigger trails in the surrounding area.
On my first day in Yosemite, I decided to hike the Yosemite Valley Traverse. This hike takes you all the way from the valley floor to the famous Glacier Point overlook, ascending almost 4,000 feet in the process. During this ascent I was lucky enough to see two brown bears! After reaching the top, the hike then descends back to the valley via the Mist Trail, which passes both the Vernon and Nevada waterfalls.
Cloud’s Rest was my second hike in Yosemite, and it was nice to get a different perspective of Yosemite Valley. The hike wasn’t as intense as the Yosemite Traverse, and most of the hike was a pleasant stroll through the forest.
Mt. Langley was my first California 14er, and though the route wasn’t technical, it was long. For the 22 mile round trip, I started at 6 am from the Cottonwood Lakes camping area. The views of Owens Valley and Mt Whitney were well worth the effort. The Cottonwood Lakes area is popular for fishing and camping, so there were a fair amount of people near the trail.
Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the continental US, making it a very popular hike. Because of it’s popularity, even a day hike requires a permit. I was fortunate to get one as late as it was in the season. The hike ascends over 6,000 feet and is about 24 miles round-trip so I started at 4 am. When I started the hike, there was a black bear right at the trailhead! It was too dark and I was too slow with the camera to get a good shot. When I returned to the truck at 8 pm, I saw what was probably the same bear. Unfortunately, I didn’t see him until right after I put my camera away!
The hike was long and difficult, but it was definitely worthwhile. Since this hike is at the end of the John Muir trail, I ran into a few hikers who were finishing it. The John Muir trail is a 200 mile north-to-south hike through the Sierras. Someday I’ll have to come back and try it!
Here are some random pictures that I took while camping on this trip. The clear night skies in the desert made for great shots of the stars. These include pictures of Jupiter and Saturn. On the Jupiter picture, I was able to zoom in enough to see Jupiter’s moons. In the picture of Saturn, you can just barely start to make out the rings.