Interlude

Where: our summer job at Rock Creek Lakes Resort

Friends, it’s time for a vacation. This weekend, we are taking our RV to a lovely campground outside of Bishop, where Luka will join us for a few days of hiking, star gazing, campfire sitting, and Jiffy Pop eating. Even though we live in our RV full time, when we take it to new, pretty places, it makes us feel like we’re in relaxation mode. And relaxation mode is just what we need right now. So, in the meantime, please enjoy some views of the lovely Sierra Tiger Lilies blooming in our canyon, and we will be back next week with lots of photos and good stories.

Dog Days of Summer

Where: at our summer job at Rock Creek Lakes Resort

I hope you’ve seen the wonderful cult classic Harold and Maude, in which septuagenarian Maude and 18-year-old Harold fall in love.  Along those lines, there’s a love story at the Resort even more unusual: Luke and Patty.  In this story, the lovebirds are separated by more than 65 years, a couple feet of height, and a tail. See, Patty is our recently retired co-worker who spent the last 10 years working at the Resort, and Luke is the King’s dog.  Disregarding familial associations, Luke is completely devoted to Patty, and never gets so excited as when she’s around. Yesterday, Patty came up to Rock Creek from her home in sweltering Big Pine to hike with us in the relative cool, and it was a given that we would take along both Luke, and Amy and Steve’s dog, Birch.

Good dogs sitting for a treat:

Tamarack trailhead starts from the side of Rock Creek Lake, a short walk from the Resort. It’s a lesser used trail system, mainly leading to a couple really long trails that most dayhikers don’t want to tackle. There’s also a few shorter hikes to little lakes that are often dry in drought years, but with all the runoff this year, we guessed that everything would be full.

Still plenty of snow in the mountains above and behind us:

Kenneth Lake is the most ephemeral, generally just a dry, concave field. Now, it’s a lush oasis, full of frogs and tadpoles, and wildflowers in the marshy edges.

Our final destination was Francis Lake, which JJ and I have never seen. There were all kinds of small streams running alongside and next to the trail, and at first I tried to keep my feet dry. One stretch of trail was bound in by dense willows, and there was no way to avoid the sucking mud the water had made of the trail. JJ and Patty were fine in their over the ankle boots, but I almost lost a shoe to the muck. The dogs looked like Pigpens, tearing around until they were covered in brown.

Birch prefers snow to mud:

The lake was a real treat. The water was perfectly clear and cool, and the dogs had a great time fetching sticks and getting drinks as they paddled around. There were wildflowers all over the lower slopes, and the banks above were still snow covered. The behemoth of the canyon, Mount Morgan, loomed above, and I thought about co-workers who had made the long difficult trek to the top at 13,748 feet. We were happy to watch the dogs play and soak our feet while having a snack.

The dogs were still crazy men until the final half mile of the hike. They spent most of their time tearing back and forth, covering about 3 times as much ground as we were. Because we were reentering civilization (and cars) we leashed them back up at the top of the last hill that leads back to the lake. That little stop was just too much for the tuckered puppies, who both took the opportunity to lie down, and then didn’t want to get back up. We had to keep pulling them to get them to finish up the hike, and they both passed out in their doghouse the moment we got back to the Resort.

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Besides that, whoo-boy, it’s getting to the busy time of year. Our cabins are full the whole month of July, and most of them turn over on Fridays and Saturdays, which make for heavy days. On Friday, I exercised and took a walk before work. Then I cleaned 4 cabins, closed down the cafe kitchen and then closed down the store. It may have been my best ever day for steps, at 38,000!  The main thing I want to do in the midst of all this is just walk around the lake and enjoy the views.

Til next week!

Summers in the Sierra, sublime

Where: our summer job at Rock Creek Lakes Resort

When we first started full-timing, we had the idea that we would choose a different location for every summer job. Neither JJ or I had spent much time out west before living on the road, and there was so much we wanted to see. We stuck with the plan for the first 2 summers, working the first in Big Bear, CA, and the second at Rock Creek in Bishop, CA. We’re now on our third summer in the Eastern Sierra, and will probably keep coming back for a few more years. Why are we returning to the same place over and over? By far, the best part of spending our summers here is the huge amount of things to do and places to go—practically limitless! We tried out a few totally new trails this week and lucked out with solitude and beautiful views.

While there are a limited number of trailheads on the east side, each one is the start of several trails leading off into different directions. We have hiked from South Lake, west of Bishop, but way back before our first summer here. Last week, we were craving a short, quiet hike, so we met up with Luka to trek to Marie Louise Lake. There were tons of people on the main trail, but once we turned off onto the tiny trail to the alpine lake, we were the only ones around. Those sorts of areas are just the antidote to the bustle of a busy week, and you can feel your body slowing down and relaxing as you sit and enjoy the beauty.

South Lake:

JJ and Luka look like little people among the Shooting Stars:

Trying out our new mosquito head nets.  They work like a dream!

We also continue to discover hikes that are absolutely fabulous, but barely have any coverage online. Yesterday, we met up with our co-worker Michelle, and her two friends who were in town. We tried out Reversed Peak, with only one vague blog post to guide us, and no real idea of what to expect. The prominence is the tallest point in the middle of the June Lake Loop, affording a 360 degree view of the whole area from the top. It was a really tough hike, all steep uphills on loose, sandy soil. But when we finally popped out at the top and scrambled to the rock outcropping that comprises the highest point, the views were definitely worth struggling to see. The pictures I have just don’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to come out and see the splendor for yourself sometime!

Grant Lake, which was dry the last 2 years, is now full:

We climbed up from down there!

Panorama with Michelle photobombing:

And when I want to stay close to home, I have plenty of options that I can reach right from the Resort—no car needed. In a secret and undisclosed location near the Resort are a set of little ponds that are just the right distance for a before or after work stroll. This was the first time I’ve been to them this season, and even with knowing the route, they were hard to find because of all the water and snow on the way. Part of the trail was underwater, now an ephemeral pond that has not been in prior years, and lots of the trail was still covered in deep snow. The heavy snowpack also tore down many of the pine trees or bent them all out of whack as it slid downhill, which made the trail hard to find. The south-facing slopes near the ponds were snow free and covered with wildflowers.

This is normally the trail, now a haven for frogs:

Plenty of snow at elevations just above the Resort:

Mule Ears flowers are blooming:

Pretty, but I don’t know the name of this one:

Even just a walk around the lake can be fascinating. This week, out for an evening stroll, we saw a bald eagle and an osprey. The osprey circled about a hundred feet above the water, before diving underneath and reappearing with a big trout in its talons.

Up this week, JJ and I celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, and we’re making buckeye candies for a crew dinner.  As he said “subjecting Californians to Midwest culture since 2015”.  Til next week!

4th of (whew!) July

Where: our summer job at Rock Creek Lakes Resort

Wow! What a weekend!  All those customers that were missing in action over the last couple weeks seemed to show up at the same time in the days leading up to the 4th.  July 3 was one of the craziest days I’ve seen at the Resort, with loads and loads of customers from the moment we opened until the door finally shut.  When lunch service ended at 3, the restaurant crew let out a big sigh and just shook our heads at the messy state of the kitchen.  I feel like I still haven’t recovered from that day, so this will be a short one!

We had some extra reinforcements in the house this week, with Casey, a veteran crew member, back at the grill for the holiday weekend. She’s a founding member of the Polar Bear Cub Club, so of course, a lake jump was inevitable. I just couldn’t muster the oomph to jump in myself, but in a land with no internet, I’m always up for the entertainment of watching.  I’ve decided that the time to take pictures is not when folks are actually flinging themselves in the drink; that makes for a dull series of pictures of tiny figures against a vast watery backdrop. The fun shots are the before and after, especially when the wind is cold enough to require all kinds of strange combinations of jackets, hats and towels.

I did enjoy the contrast between Casey and her husband, Kris. This might be the first time his shirt has been off all summer!

Casey looks like some sort of nun in this one:


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Although there’s a whole lot of area to explore in the Eastern Sierra, we’ve found ourselves in June Lake the last couple weeks. It’s such a charming part of the mountains that feels like a little slice of Switzerland. It’s a nice vacation spot, but never feels overrun with tourists. So, even though we had recently spent time there, when Luka proposed an outing to the Hawaiian food truck and the beach, we happily agreed. We walked around Gull Lake, past classic summer cottages and through a wonderland of geology from the time of glaciers. After too much food, we lounged in the sun at June Lake Beach and watched families play in the uber-blue water. It was a perfectly relaxing summer day!

Luka took a picture of the picture-taking:

Hot enough to swim, and snow covered mountains in the background:

After the bustle of the past weekend, this will be a short blog post.  Instead of words, please enjoy a lovely collection of photos from around the resort, and I’ll be back next week with tales of excitement!