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Mammoth October 2011

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 by

OK – I made a least one post a month in 2014, and I’m going to try to do the same in 2015. So, to kick that off, I will begin by getting one in by the skin of my teeth! Yay! The winter progresses. We went to Wyoming for a week, did some skiing, a hair of snowshoeing, saw some family, and took a really amazing snowcoach tour into Yellowstone. Highly recommended. 3+ years ago, however….we took a drive up to go try and check out some fall leaves in Mammoth and Yosemite. Come and check it out!

June Lake loop color

On October 28, Nathan I drove up towards Mammoth, in an effort to try and actually catch some fall leaves. On the drive up 395, which is always one of my favorite drives, we took the opportunity to actually stop and look at a couple of places we hadn’t had the opportunity to see in the past. The first place we stopped at was Fossil Falls, which we had noticed the sign for many many times. There is a big obvious cinder cone off on the side of the road, and we first thought we needed to go in that direction, but it turns out that heading over to the cinder cone just takes you into a mining facility. Oops! Heading back, we found the turning into the small lot area for the falls, however, so finally got over to the right place.

It’s a pretty cool cinder/lava flow landscape, with views of the cinder cone in the immediate background, and the beginning of the sierras just behind, but then you are just walking through this awesome crazy landscape formed of such really cool misshapen lava rocks. After cutting over on the trail through this landscape, you eventually simply…turn around, and you see the falls. There used to be water in this landscape, and there is an area where the water poured over
and edge and down into a small canyon, and there are some amazing-er formations, and water carved rocks just sitting around. It’s a truly awesome sculpted landscape.

Big rocks, cinder cone

From there we got back on the road, and started to see the first hint of color on some of the trees lining the road, just as we were coming up to the part of the road where it looks like you are about to drive into a 6000 foot wall. After this point, the next stop was at Mammoth smoked meats, which makes every day better! We continued up the road, and since we knew we were a couple of hours ahead of Joe and Kim, we decided to take a quick jog over to Convict Lake, where we also hoped to see some leaves. Most people were just getting done with their fishing at a little after three in the afternoon, but we were able to get out and take a really nice walk from about mid-way along the lake to the far end, and then back again. Ducking in and out of the shade, we caught some really wonderful light effects, and then finally headed back and went up to Mammoth and managed to get into the condo we had rented for the weekend. It was a pretty nice place – fireplace and grill and all, though it was a bit too cold to spend much time outside. Kim and Joe eventually made it up, and we just hang out and had some dinner, before heading to bed for the evening.

Sun setting at Convict Lake

Next day at Tuolumne

The next morning we drove up north to Yosemite. We went up to Tuolumne Meadows, and it was *awesome*. There had already been a snow in the season, so the grass was compacted, but then it had all mounted, so we were able to walk around the meadows easily. We walked here and there, and played with a bunch of the ice that was forming a thin skin on the water in the meadow. It was a *gorgeous* day out. I walked up to Soda Springs, which…I don’t think I had ever actually gone up to before. I sort of went quote-unquote cross-country over to the spring, which really wouldn’t be a normal problem, except that, well… all the outlet of the springs made it pretty marshy just where I was walking. But I eventually got up to the small building around the spring. It was in a small log open…shack thing. All the minerals in it made the whole area red, and it was…well, bubbly, as you might imagine. It tasted basically like soda water…namely, something I really don’t like at all! After hanging out, and taking more photos, and having Joe try to get some photos of Kim throwing ice into the water…we got back in the cars and went back the way we had came in. We did stop at another of the small lakes off the side of the road, before heading back out of the park.

Look, it’s Lembert Dome!

Patterns in the ice shard

The Soda Springs bubbling away

I lost that jacket a few months later

On the drive back down, we ducked into one of the side canyons, and did manage to find one lovely small grove of rustling, glowing, yellow aspens. It was a small little bit of woods, but walking underneath them with the light glowing through was fabulous. From there, we went through the June Lake Loop, which I hadn’t been able to do the prior winter, as most of it is unplowed and closed during the winter season. We we already too late for most of the color here, but there were a couple bright groves, that stood out even more brightly in the gray dim late afternoon sun. From there we went back to Mammoth, and just hung around in the evening, before heading out and having a nice dinner.

Some dusty yellows off the road

The next morning we all drove down into Devils Postpile together. The sites in the area were formally closed for the season, but as the weather was fine, it was still open to generally explore. We first walked over to the postpile itself, on the easy trail I had just visited in September. I was pretty amused at the signs they had put up , prepping for the winter season, informing skiers and snowboarders what they should do if they accidentally ended up down there. After going up and over the postpile, we headed back to the first parking lot, but stopped for a bit to play around and take some photos in the meadow, and on the bridge over the creek. Then back at the parking lot, we also stopped to take a lot at the small ripple falls in the creek as it goes past the closed campground. From there, we continued down the road to get to the Rainbow Falls trailhead.

An excellent warning sign. Take a deep breath!

Moss growing on the postpile basalt

And all the broken pieces at the base!

Walking over to these falls, we started by walking through woods, but soon the trail comes to a big open area that clearly had been burned. Looking it up, it I find references to the 1992 Rainbow Fire….18 years later, there still is not much tree regrowth, and all the dead trees still standing tall are very stark on the landscape. Eventually we made it over to the area by the falls, which has some slightly built up colors. It had been a pretty warm walk over, so feeling the breeze coming off the falls was nice. Here too I managed to find one or two trees showing some evidence of it being fall. We then reversed the walk, and got back to the car. From there, we had nothing to do but go home.

Bridge over first meadow

Burnt zone

Spot of color

Staring at the falls (they were in shadow; hard to shoot)

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