On my quest for fall colors on Route 395, the June Lake Loop was at the top of my destinations list. I had been on part of this loop over the summer and just knew it would be a great spot for fall color since the aspens were everywhere along the road. The June Lake Loop, also known as highway 158, loops from US 395 past June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake before merging back into Route 395. It was still raining as I arrived at a small parking lot along Silver Lake where there was a stand of Aspen Trees and a small trail over looking the lake.
I had found the fall color I was looking for! The rain was still coming down, but not as heavy as before. The trails were wet making all the colors rich and the sweet smell of the forest filled my nose. As much as I wished for the sun to come out, the rain made things interesting. Keeping the water off my camera lens was quite a challenge!
After taking a few photos along the trails along the bank of Silver Lake, I continued on the loop spying a couple of other spots to check out. I was still hoping that the rain would break, so I decided to go check out a few other areas for fall color and come back to the loop later in the day. I headed back out to Route 395 towards Lee Vining and Mono Lake. Another place I had seen this past summer was a stretch of 395 between Mono Lake and the town of Bridgeport known as Conway Summit. There are several turnouts there over looking the Eastern Sierra and a large stand of Aspen trees. The color there was a mixed bag, but beautiful none the less.
As I headed back towards June Lake Loop, the storm started to break and the sun came out! Yay!! As I entered the loop at the north end, those big puffy clouds that happen after a rain littered the sky and I knew my stop at Grant Lake would be a cool scene! The north end of Grant Lake is pretty unremarkable, but the south end has been dried up by the California drought. Drought is not a good thing by any means, but in this case it has created some pretty cool stuff in the dry lake bed. I don’t know if the awesome red and gold colors are minerals that have been uncovered or if it’s plant life that has taken hold (I wish I could have gone down there) but it sure was pretty!
My next stop was the boat launch area of Silver Lake. I loved the view of the mountains in the distance. Yellow and orange leaves from the aspens littered the water, which just struck me as being so awesomely fall like. Yes, I waxed poetic about fall leaves in the water. I’m in California, we don’t really have “Fall”. This was my first time going in search of the signs of the season. Folks dotted the shoreline. Some, like the couple just a few feet from me, were fishing. The young woman caught her first fish and it was a good sized one at that… prompting the “hey, my first fish” photo. My mind flashed back to a photo of my brother with his first fish… he was maybe 5 years old. I again waxed poetic about how moments can trigger memories of the past and the photos that are tucked in a box in the closet.
I could see my original grove of aspens to my right and that’s where I was headed next. Back to where I started, to walk the trails in the sun. The trail looked quite different with the sun shining through the trees, but no less beautiful.
Alas! It’s time to start heading back south and eventually home. It’s been a pretty cool day despite the rain. I’m glad I came. Can’t wait to come back to see winter along the Eastern Sierra.
I wonder what I might find along the way home…
To keep up with the fall color along the Eastern Sierra visit: http://www.monocounty.org/fall-colors/
To see full sized photos from this trip check out my gallery here.
Map of the area here.