Sunday, September 20, 2009

18 September - Lake Tahoe, Little Lakes Valley, Upper Sardine Lake

(Float over photo and click to see slide show...)

We sneak away from Donner summit to seek out fall colors and some solitude on the eastern side of the Sierras. Passing Lake Tahoe on the way we were glad to leave the early fall crowds well behind. We made several excellent day hikes to reliably dramatic mountain canyons south of Mono Lake. First stop - Tom's Place and Little Lakes Valley. Sparkling aspens, dark blue skies, and cold clear mountain streams and lakes dot this gently sloping canyon as it rises to the Sierra Crest. Next day we explore the north end of The June Lake loop and discover a remarkable mountain railway - still in use to service the dam 2,000 feet above the valley floor, passing Gem and Agnew lake. Third day we camped at the Walker Lake trail head and ventured up and up and up to Upper Sardine Lake, passing Bloody Mountain - with incredible vistas back to the Mono Lake Basin. This hike passes through what I imagine is as close to virgin Sierra forest as possible, with gigantic Doug Fir, and Juniper trees - some with over 7' trunks. No sign of previous logging was evident, and the mature alpine forests were a treat to experience.

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