hiking, lodging, photography, sierra nevada, travel, travel tips

Free Camping in the Sierras

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One of my favorite things about visiting the Sierra’s on the eastern side is all the free camping. Camping allows you to get out in nature in a much closer more intimate way. Cooking your own food and surviving the elements are so much fun (both of which we did on this trip as a huge storm blew throughout the entire night and the next morning we cooked an entire brunch on our fire!). Much of the land in the Sierra’s is BLM land which is generally free to camp in year round. Many of the campgrounds become free in the off season as well. We like Holiday Campground near Tom’s Place, Glass Creek Campground near Mammoth, and Buckeye dispersed camping near the Buckeye Hot Springs (probably the best in the sierras that I’ve been to). Make sure to get a fire permit (available for free online) and put your fire completely out. We don’t need the forest burning any more than it already has.

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adventure, hiking, photography, sierra nevada, travel

Sharing the Sierra’s Secrets

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I love driving down the 395 (the main highway along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Range in California) and finding new and unexplored (by me) roads into the mountains. One such road that I found near Bridgeport was Green Creek Road, a 9 mile winding gravel road that eventually dead ends near a campground. Hiking further up the trail continues deep into the mountains even looping around the Virginia Lakes Resort and appears to be used by pack horses in the summer. This is the first lake you come to and it offers a glimpse at the spectacular craggy peaks awaiting you further up. I can’t wait to come back and here and do some proper hiking! Have any of you hiked in this area before? Any recommendations? Please let me know below!

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adventure, hiking, sierra nevada, travel

Garnett Lake and the JMT

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Banner Peak looms 12,942 feet over the beautiful island filled Garnet Lake, little brother to the more famous Thousand Island Lake. Numerous small glaciers decorate the sides of this beautiful mountain (which can apparently be climbed by a least one class 2 route…hmm next adventure?). Thousand Island Lake can be most easily reached by the 7.8 mile gently sloping River Trail from Agnew Meadows. However, I had the bright idea that we should return via the JMT to Shadow Lake route. While the maps indicated this was a bit longer they in no way prepared us for the innumerable painful switchbacks, ups and downs, and much rougher terrain of this particular detour. The trail tops out at 10k above sea level and with most of it is above 8k that altitude definitely gets to you! The return ended up being about 10.6 miles down the JMT to Shadow Lake and back to Agnew Meadows. However, we still managed the 18.4 mile loop in 7.5 hours (a record pace for us I think). A soak in a hot springs afterward and another one the next morning helped ease our sore muscles. Ediza and Iceberg Lakes are next on my list. Who has hiked this area?

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adventure, camera, sierra nevada, travel

First Snow of 2017

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Watching the storm role in. Snow transforms everything, turning dry dusty ground into a white winter wonderland. Snow allows the almost desert like conditions of the Eastern Sierras to thrive with life, Aspens and Evergreens, Wildflower and Wild Berries. While California certainly does have some beautiful mountains all year long, I think that snow really puts the finishing touches on them and brings them to the level of some of the more lush mountain ranges to the north. Can’t wait till more snow falls here…maybe be out in it, maybe get stuck on the wrong side of a closed pass again as I did last fall during the first snow (that I recall) when I took this photo of my friend shooting near June Lake. What’s your favorite thing about winter?

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camera, sierra nevada, travel

Reminders of the Past

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I’ve always wanted to shoot thud dilapidated old cabin on the side of the highway. It’s given way to long years of wind and weather with both snowy winters and dry summers taking their toll. Just before sunset, whispy white clouds began pouring over the Eastern end of the Sierra Nevadas setting the perfect backdrop for the seen. Weathered and beaten. I wonder what the story is. Did someone live here? Were they farmers or gold rushers? Do you have a favorite weathered old building to shoot? Care to share it?

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adventure, camera, hiking, photography, sierra nevada, travel

Setting Sun from Bridgeport

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One thing I love about the Eastern Sierra mountains is how different they can look depending on the clouds, the weather, the time of the year. Fall colors change the landscape from yellow, to gold, to orange and brown. Add a few clouds and a sunset and you get even more spectacular tones. The windswept grassy fields around Bridgeport create a beautiful foreground to the stunning Sierra Crags that rise above the Twin Lakes Region off in the distance. A light dusting of snow has coated the peaks. I imagine now they are completely covered in snow. Can’t wait to get back up here and explore some more. What is your favorite spot to hike around Bridgeport, California?

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adventure, hiking, sierra nevada, travel

Ice skating on Big Pine Lakes

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Sometimes the best views on out on thin ice. Lake Two of the Big Pine Lakes (there are 7 total) reflects the majestic beauty of Temple Crag just after sunset. While I didn’t actually have ice skates on, the ice was smooth enough from the sun melting it over the daytime, that I could slide quite well in even my hiking boots. One of my favorite hikes in the Eastern Sierras. Where is yours?

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