Road Trip to Big Pine Creek (aka 2 Girls on the Open Road)
My Instagram feed is constantly full of mountains, lakes, and beautiful places. It inspires me and reminds me how big and full of wonder the world is, cheesy as that sounds. When I see a photo that strikes my fancy I usually screenshot it and do some research on it later - or forget about it and it floats along somewhere in the cloud along with the million photos of my dog. One of these photos I actually researched turned out to be just east of Yosemite, so I convinced my best friend to take a few days from the office and go on a road trip.
I've been to Yosemite a half dozen times, but Mono Lake always seemed out of the way. Melsa and I were driving right by it this time though so we decided to stop. I don't want to say it was disappointing, because the tufa formations were unlike anything I've seen before, but I am glad I never went out of my way to see Mono Lake during previous trips.
There was a mile loop that walked you through the tufa and allowed for some neat photography. The whole place seemed like another planet - and was eerily quiet.
At this point we had been driving for over five hours and needed a break. Mono was a bit too creepy and deserted so we looked on the map and saw Convict Lake, which appeared to be right off the main highway. Best. Decision. Ever.
Convict Lake is surrounded by the high Sierras and protected from gusts of wind so we thought it would be the ideal place to SUP. The whole hour we were either pinching ourselves (is this real life?!) or giggling from our excitement.
We got a little daring and tried out some yoga moves on the board. How do people do that? Needless to say, we are far away from combining those two hobbies into one.
After spending time out of the car and high from the release of endorphins we continued another hour or so to Big Pine Creek campground, our home for the next couple of days.
I set up the hammock right away so Melsa could rest while I set up camp - trade off for driving us the whole way.
I joke that Melsa and I are the healthiest campers. Our dinner consisted of kale and vegetable quinoa.
Followed by more time in the hammock. (Best gift ever, Cameron!)
We tried to stay awake until dark, but we ended up sound asleep before 8pm. After 11 hours of sleep it was time to wake up and have a power breakfast: vegetables and eggs, bacon, cornbread and coffee (Michellz, the camping version of Philz).
Then we hit the trail, hoping to complete the 15 mile loop that would take us by 6 lakes.
The path was gorgeous, taking us along the creek, up into the mountains and through trees with changing colors. Fall is here, guys!
After 5 miles we came to the first lake, which showed off it's beautiful teal water and had Temple Crag standing magnificently in the background. We didn't think it could get better than this.
Then, we arrived at lake two, where the water was even more saturated with that teal color. This was better than in the Instagram photo I had seen in my feed weeks ago.
Besides discovering new favorite lakes and trails, we also discovered our love for Mamma Chia's chia squeezes.
We ended up seeing all 6 of the lakes, although as Melsa said, compared to lake two the others were horrid. Obviously exaggerating, they were still gorgeous!
Somewhere along mile 9 we lost the trail and ended up bushwhacking for a bit. The key is to keep your cool and have a sense of direction.
When we made it back to camp we happily took off our gear and indulged in some snacking.
The following day we packed up and headed to Mammoth Lakes. We put our stuff down at the campsite and headed straight for the trails, as we had a 10 mile hike planned for the day.
Here's the first lake we passed, just a little over a mile in. It's appropriately named Emerald Lake.
This trail was also alive with fall colors. I tried to capture them through the lens, but nothing beats experiencing them first hand.
And here we are on the switchbacks up Duck Pass on our way to Duck Lake. It was a rocky climb, but the views were spectacular.
And for your entertainment, here's our selfie stick fail:
And then our selfie stick win:
Once you reach the top you can see Pika Lake and Duck Lake, and it's the perfect spot for lunch :)
We were back at camp in no time and still had energy left to burn, so Melsa had the idea of renting bikes. The bike paths took us along (more) beautiful lakes and offered views in almost every direction.
By the time we finished our rides we figured it was beer time. And since Mammoth lodge was near camp, we headed inside to get away from the cold.
Our 4 day getaway was more than I could have asked for and I hope to make it to Mammoth Lakes every year from now on. Of course, I'll only go if this girl comes, because who else can you get a headache with, vomit in the middle of the night with, and lose vision in your eye with and still have the time of your life with? Love you, Mels! I'll think of how excited you got about our matching Mammoth mugs every time I drink out of it.
Other things worth mentioning:
- Melsa informed me during our trip not to eat the squirrel and chipmunk feces, otherwise we might get the plague.
- If the water tastes like metal you probably shouldn't drink it, even if the camp manager says its safe.
- There is nothing along the 395 from Yosemite to Big Pine Creek. I repeat, nothing.
- Mono Lake is actually not pronounced like mononucleosis.
- When the locals call Big Pine Creek a resort, it is not the kind of resort you are picturing in your mind.
Keywords: Big Pine Creek, California, Mammoth, Mammoth lakes, Temple Crag, adventure, backpacking, explore, hiking, lake, mono, mono lake, outdoors, road trip, travel
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