Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Week in Mammoth

We took picturesque highway 20 from Nevada City to Interstate 80, then skirted the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe on Highway 28. About halfway down the lake, we picked up highway 50, going east until we reached the 395 which took us south to Mammoth Lakes, where we stayed a week, hiking, biking and fishing the beautiful lakes above the town.

Lake George
With the lakes freshly stocked, young rainbow trout rushed our hooks almost as soon as they hit the water at Lake George.
As the Labor Day holiday weekend approached the town of Mammoth Lakes began to swell with people. By Saturday, the hotels, campgrounds and day use areas were packed. To avoid the crowds we drove down highway 395 to Rock Creek and hiked up to the Gems, a pair of pristine lakes high in the eastern Sierras. The trail starts from Mosquito Flats at an elevation of 10,200 feet, and winds through aptly named Little Lakes Valley up to an elevation of 10,900 feet, where Upper Gem lies.
At nearly 11,000 feet elevation, the Gems are not far from the timberline.

I was surprised to see a little patch of snow in the shadows on the south side of the lake.

Still reluctant to face the crowds around Mammoth, the next day we drove down to McGee Creek Road, about 20 miles from Mammoth. Turning off the highway, we drove southwest past the pack station to the trailhead at the end of the road. From there we hiked up the trail through magnificent scenery along the creek until we arrived at the Pond, which lies at an elevation of 9,000 feet.
McGee Creek Trail starts here.

A midday moon

The beaver dam widens the creek into a pond of several acres.
The beavers' lodge is located near the upper end of the pond.
The water level in the pond is about four feet higher than the creek below it. You have to admire the engineering skill of America's largest rodent.
The North American beaver's habitat once extended from Canada to the deserts of northern Mexico, but the animal was hunted almost to extinction in the 1800's. Beavers weigh an average of 44 pounds. On another note, Oregon State University, with the Beaver as its mascot is not ranked in the AP Top 25 football poll this year, much to Lisa's chagrin.

Tomorrow, we'll head northeast through Nevada and Idaho to the West Entrance of Yellowstone NP.

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