Start Big Trees Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Bishop, CA
Finish Big Trees Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Bishop, CA
Today’s Miles 0
Ross dropped Robin off 5 miles outside of town and she ran the rest of the way, mostly downhill. The weather was perfect. Ross continued on into town to the laundromat for laundry and internet. We both also took a shower at the laundromat for $5 apiece. One of the patrons gave us a buck each because she thought we were homeless.
We lunched on huge sandwiches at Erik Schat’s Bakkery. They were delicious and prepared using the bakery’s famous sheepherder’s bread. Shat’s redeemed himself for the preposterously pitiful peach pie.
We Jeeped up Buttermilk Road, the old route miner’s took up the canyon to the old gold mine. A plaque told the story of the miners stopping at a local dairy located at the halfway point and getting a glass of buttermilk. That’s how the road got its name. If Ross worked in that mine there’s no doubt today the road would be called Ice Cream Road, although he does like a good glass of buttermilk too.
We opted to have a second cocktail last night at 7,500 ft. elevation. Yikes! We both woke up with headaches. Ouch! Ross now insists that two cocktails is a minimum for effective high altitude training. Somebody should Google dat!
California has odd laws for its campground bathrooms. Every single one has toilet seat covers (OK), but not a single one has soap, nor a soap dispenser (What?).
Bishop Creek Canyon
|Daily Summary||May 9|
|Start||Big Trees Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Bishop, CA|
|Finish||Big Trees Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Bishop, CA|
- Robin took her first day off of running over the past month. Her legs enjoyed the rest.
- We got in the car early and drove up Bishop Creek Canyon up to South Lake and North Lake. Along the way we found a small ranch/resort (Cardinal Village Resort) serving breakfast. Robin ate the largest buckwheat pancakes in the world. We sat outside on the porch and soaked up the sunshine, cool weather, and enjoyed their Wi-Fi.
- We spent the rest of the day napping, reading, and lying around in the hammock. Stress hormone status: low.
- Our campground host’s name is Rick. We call him “Ranger Rick” after a school magazine character from Robin’s childhood. Rick visits every afternoon to share some of his experiences and many stories. He is a bit of a philosopher and has reminded us of living in the present moment and enjoying life. Rick and his wife retired early from the daily grind and supplement their retirement income with summer camp hosting duties. Camp hosts live on site and manage the campgrounds, and in return get a small stipend and free campsite. Ross enjoyed talking with Rick about adventure vehicles and RVs. Rick has traveled in most every version and configuration you can imagine. He currently has four RVs, including a conversion van.
- Robin taught Ross all about mountain lions and bobcats. Mountain lions are known to wander these parts. They weigh more than our old rottweiler, Peaches, but less than Ross.
- As an aside, both of us ask the other a lot of questions that the other cannot possibly know. This typically leads to a declarative, “Why don’t you Google ‘dat’?” We’re now making lists of things to Google when we have an internet connection. If someone asks the other one too many questions, they get called an “askhole.”
- Mr. Spock is really enjoying wandering around this campground taking in the sights and smells. Ranger Rick says that this campground is like “Disneyland for dogs.”
- Every campsite in California comes with a complimentary pair of gorgeous blue birds, commonly known as the Western Scrub Jay. Don’t be fooled by their beauty; they are just waiting to steal. They really like T'Chat’s salmon paté.
Start: Gull Lake National Forest Campground near June Lake, CA
Finish: Gull Lake National Forest Campground near June Lake, CA Today’s
We ran/hiked around Gull Lake on a glorious day to be alive, and then drove over to a nearby commercial campground offering $1 hot showers. A bargoon!
Since we had urgent need to plug in Ross’ MacBook Pro while accessing high speed internet, we drove to the Looney Bean Cafe in Mammoth Lakes. Ross’ computer has been restarting spontaneously. After running the Apple Hardware Test, the error code indicated a possible hard drive issue that tons of Google-fu couldn’t clarify. He resolved to take it to the Apple retailer when he gets back to Bend. In the meantime, we had to resolve some personal financial issues that involved downloading JPGs, PDF conversions, and emailing our accountant. Meanwhile, Ross’ iPad was downloading a crap load of movies and TV episodes from Amazon Video, the best service available if offline viewing is a need.
Robin is still hoping for a bear sighting. Everywhere we go the rangers and campground hosts report recent activity, and this just teases her hopes. Ross has seen bears and doesn’t want to see them again anytime soon.
Start: The Inn at Benton Hot Springs
Finish: Gull Lake National Forest Campground near June Lake, CA
Today’s Miles: 70.4
Trip Time: 06:28:35
Moving Average: 38.2 mph
Speed Max: 64.6 mph
Time Moving: 02:02:21
After our morning soak in the hot springs, we had an unusually fast exit from Benton Hot Springs. We were on the road by 8:30 AM — a record. We drove straight to Mammoth Lakes with a list of chores. We did divide and we did conquer: Ross washed all the clothes and bedding while Robin shopped for groceries and filled up the gas tank. Nice teamwork!
After “shopping” for a campsite at three national forest campgrounds near June Lake, we found a terrific site right on Gull Lake, appropriately called Gull Lake Campground, for $22 per night. It’s a small campground that is usually filled up on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sunday afternoons are usually a good time to catch a site as the weekenders start to pack up and leave.
The June Lake “loop” was carved out by glacial action that left pristine lakes abutting the Sierra Mountains. The landscape is both lush and rugged. The lakes are popular fishing spots.
Start: The Inn at Benton Hot Springs
Finish: The Inn at Benton Hot Springs
Today’s Miles: 0
The highlight of the morning was waking up to a sunrise over the White Mountains while temperatures began to warm. First order of business: back in the hot tub with hot coffee. We enjoy good coffee. In the condo we grind coffee from a roaster in Portland. In the teardrop it’s easier to make instant coffee. We used a French press on a previous trip but didn’t care for the cleanup and disposal of the used grinds. So after some experimentation our palates will reveal the top two brands of instant coffee: Starbucks Columbia Via and Medaglia D'Oro Espresso.
Ross jumped on his bike for the 6 mile ride to Benton but made a wrong turn right out the gate. He ended up riding 2 miles straight up the mountain gaining a gazillion verticals along the way. The view was tremendous and ride down exhilarating. He did manage to find Benton after all. Thankfully, he didn’t blink or he would have missed it.
The afternoon winds picked up considerably. Not only did the winds chase us into the teardrop for refuge, the freaking winds tore our new Nemo Bugout tarp shelter. It’s only a small tear in the mesh, but the “first cut is always the deepest”.
The Inn at Benton Hot Springs placed three port-o-lets at the campground. They were filled to the brim, meaning everybody’s deposits were a little too obvious. Nasty.
We have gotten in the habit of going to bed at sunset and rising at first light. This is not the norm in most campgrounds. Most people light fires and visit into the night, and then sleep late. Not us. We’re up hours before the campground begins to stir.
Start: Big Meadow Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Tom’s Place
Finish: The Inn at Benton Hot Springs
Today’s Miles 73.2
Trip Time 06:49:23
Moving Average 39.9 mph
Speed Max 71.7 mph
Time Moving 01:57:48
Ross enjoyed his morning bike ride up Rock Creek Canyon. The temperature was cool while the sun shone brightly.
We packed up and left our beautiful campsite and headed north. We drove to the lovely Convict Lake, a well-known site for weddings because of the picturesque lake framed by mountains that appear to rise right out of the lake. The national forest campground was hopping as weekenders arrived for some R&R. Next, we checked out Mammoth Lakes and stopped in at the first-class visitors center.
The drive 30 miles east to the Inn at Benton Hot Springs was very nice. We skirted Crowley Lake and drove over mountains that looked increasingly like desert terrain. Benton Hot Springs is an old town dating back to 1886 known for natural springs that deliver water to pools at a consistent 120-135 degrees. The Inn functions as a B&B with a campground in the back of the property. Each campsite has a separate and somewhat private plunge pool fed by the hot springs. We reserved site #10 for two nights. After unpacking and setting up camp, we jumped right in with beers in hand. To the east we had unobstructed views of the White Mountains.
Like every idyllic location, there’s always some downside. At Benton Hot Springs, biting gnats came in the early evening and swarmed our heads so much that they chased us into the teardrop early.
|Daily Summary||May 12|
|Start||Big Meadow Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Tom’s Place|
|Finish||Big Meadow Campground (Inyo National Forest) near Tom’s Place|
Today was spent hanging around the campsite in the hammock listening to the rushing water in the creek or drinking a couple beers. Robin and Ross went on separate walks down the creek trail looking at the fish or the sunlight shining through the aspens.
On his way back down the trail, Ross saw a young woman getting out of the creek. Not only was she naked, she was buck naked. Rather than gawk at her body (she did not seem embarrassed), he tipped his hat and moved on.
We drove a couple miles down to the tiny town of Tom’s Place and enjoyed a beer at the saloon before moving over to the cafe to take advantage of the cafe’s Thursday special: prime rib. It was thick and juicy and cooked just right.
Ross took T'Chat for a walk. She has a tendency to get in touch with her feral inner kitten on such occasions, and resists all efforts to corral her back to the trailer. She manage to scratch the shit out of Ross when he tried to pick her up. Seven liters of whole blood infusions later, Ross would regain consciousness.
Once we unload our gear at the campsite and with the pets in tow, it is sometimes easier to stagger our morning physical activities so that Robin goes for a run while Ross minds the camp, and then they switch. Unfortunately, we don’t often run, hike, or bike together.