We’d been planning our fishing trip with Jeff for some time and when the weekend finally came, Kira and I were excited to get out for what seems like our first backpacking of the ‘summer.’ Even though it snowed the night before we arrived, we were expecting a high pressure that would move the storms out of CA and leave us with some fine clear warm weather. So we drove out to the Eastern Sierras for some hiking and fishing.
Arriving late on Friday, we crashed at the North Lake campground that night. Organizing our things in the morning, we looked over each other’s pack and charged out in search of massive lazy hungry fish. Trodding up the steep rocky incline the promise of giant trout kept us going.
Our first stop, at Loch Leven was spectacularly fruitful. The Brook and Rainbow Trout bit almost every fly in the water and each was landed (then released). After some lunch we continued on toward our Piute Lake, though we were a bit late to get any decent fishing in there and and decided to hike out early in the pre-dawn morning on Sunday. The terrain of the Sierras is spectacular, more so when coupled with a dusting of snow, but the rugged Sierras beneath a clear-sky canopy of stars on a moonless night takes the cake for awe-some and gorgeous.
We arrived down the hill shortly after setting out. Each of us took a quick nap in the car to let the sky warm up and the rest of the world wake up, then drove down to have a breakfast/lunch at Eric Shatt’s in Bishop. While mowing on a pastrami sandwich a familiar face walked in the door and began perusing the pineapple pull-apart cakes. I was, and still am, amazed that Megan and Tad ‘just happened’ to be in Bishop, at Shatt’s… some mysteries of the universe will likely never explain themselves. We chatted with the Shimatas for a bit, then let them get to their lunch as we pushed on toward home.
After only a brief time in the car we pulled West to run some beer procurement errands before continuing up the hill to peruse the wonderous Devil’s Post Pile. The monument is a tribute to an actual monument of nature. The Post Pile is a geologic feature comprised of columns of basalt (cooled lava) that fractured to almost pure perfection and were then naturally polished by massive ice-cubes. We walked the loop around the monument and then took time to notice the geologic formations elsewhere in the park. After a quick stop by the soda spring for a sip of bubble-water, we jumped back into the car and headed toward town when we suffered a radiator failure. Confused, we stopped and let the engine cool, refilled the reservoir with a couple liters and set back up the hill. A meare 20 meters from the top, the engine temp reached an unacceptable level and we pulled off again. This time we took naps and let the engine cool for two hours and then set out to find more water. Finding no spigot anyplace near, we bummed drinking water off the ranger at the gate and put in 4 liters then gingerly floated the car down into town in search of the first service station we could find. Pulling into such a place, I began to purchase a bottle of coolant, then recoiled and asked if they’d just fill it for me. Fortunately, with one look at the radiator cap the service man noticed it’s defunct nature and sold me half a gallon of coolant and a new cap which solved the problem.
Back in business, we drove down the hill to the 395 with caution and then put the vehicle back into full motion onto the Mono Basin. With plenty of daylight to burn, I pulled off and headed east on the 120 to explore another fascinating geologic formation of Eastern California, the Tufa of Mono Lake. Repeating that word every four minutes, Kira was sure to never forget it. A quick read of every sign in the park, another cleansing taste of mineral water, identification of each of the few species of plants, animals, and insects that thrive on The Lake, and a few photographs later we were back, heading West.
Reminded of my Geocaching companion, traveling with me, I pulled off at the nearest cache, The Tomb Of The Unknown Prospector, paid my respects and dropped my trackable at the accompanying cache. Then it was back on the road where we’d soon have Kira her prescribed milkshake.
We’d heard about the Mobile at the junction of 395 and 120 (toward Yosemite), so we stopped. Turns out they’ve got the most expensive fuel I’d seen all week ($5.69 for regular) and marginal food. But I imagine if we had been in the bush a little longer and hadn’t stopped at the Mammoth Brewery we’d be a little less critical. By the time we’d finished dinner I’d unofficially exhausted my allotment of daylight and we got back on the road. However, I was eager to stretch my credit and pulled off to seek out one more geocache, to no avail in the moon-less night. Forfeiting my right to continue the weekend any longer, we were back on the road and headed home, only two more stops.
The first was to assist a motorist with a flat – while this old prospector didn’t need my help, it seemed he appreciated the light and moreso, the conversation as he continued to talk even after the wheel was on, the truck off the jack, the tools stowed, and me back in the car. The second was just West of Tracy where some midnight construction had begun, effectively killing the usefulness of the freeway. After the cone-zone we were home within an hour and a half.
Surprisingly we only set out to go fishing. I think we did alright.