Where: working our summer job in Mammoth Lakes, CA, at Crystal Crag Lodge
While there’s plenty of places named for pleasant reasons, like to honor a first ascent or commemorate a historical figure, the Sierra also has a fair share of place names based on really gory events. Bloody Canyon was apparently named by the miners who first tried to get horses up over Mono Pass into Yosemite; the sharp rock of the canyon cut up the legs of the livestock and left bloody marks along the path. Sardine Lake along the way was named after a horse laden with tins of sardines tumbled down the cliff and into the water.
Although the backstory to this area is grim, our experience was phenomenal, because we enjoyed a long day hike through an amazing place, filled with waterfalls and flowers, but hardly any other hikers.
The main highways warn you of deer crossing; the backroads are the domain of the spunky Sage Grouse:
This hike is very unusual for the Sierra because you start up on top of a glacial moraine, and then drop down several hundred feet to Walker Lake before you start back up the canyon. This was all fun and games until the steep up was the last part of our 10-mile hike!
The wild iris were still blooming in the wet meadows:
Yes, the mosquitos and flies are bad. How bad, you say? When you have to take multiple photos just to get one without an insect in it. Fail Example:
Lower Sardine Lake.
At one point, we could see three different waterfalls cascading down the walls around us:
Near the top, close to Mono Pass, were several small snow fields. This one was watermelon snow, filled with a type of green algae that also has a red pigment in it in addition to chlorophyll:
At the top, we met many hikers coming from the west, where a trailhead starts inside Yosemite. They may have had the better end of the deal by coming along a trail with very little elevation gain, but we had the better views!
This trail was a challenge, especially on the parts that were obscured by snow. Here, the snow down the middle of the chute was just a bridge over a stream, so we had to scramble down the loose scree instead. I hate scree, but I try to fake myself out everytime we’re on it by singing “Whee Whee Scree! I Love Scree!”
Something I do unequivocally love is easy water crossings. JJ demos:
Columbine, Walker Lake, and Mono Lake in the far distance:
Work update: we’re continuing to have a great time with the rest of the crew. Last week, after a very busy and very difficult Saturday, we all got together for wine and games. I only meant to stay an hour or two, but we were having so much fun we had to drag ourselves away at bed time!
CJ, Darlene, and Jeff:
While I was out for walk recently, I turned into the campground just down the road from the Lodge. There was a little sign in the middle, pointing to Mammoth Consolidated Mine.
A short trail took me to a collection of about 20 wooden buildings that date from the 1920s. Many were still standing strong….
but quite a few were doing their best pancake imitation:
The mineshafts were spooky holes in the hillside above the camp:
On the way back down, I watched yellow clouds of pine pollen billow in the gusts of wind. It’s allergy season at 9000 feet!