Solstice in the Sierras

By Forrest Smith -

We spent June 19th – June 22nd playing in the Sierras once again. It’s a bit of a drive, but I frequently need to get my mountain fix in, so I think it’s worth it.

Aspen trees near our campsite

Watching fish

Jeannie getting the fire ready for dinner.

A New Longest Attempt

Last July we completed a nine-mile hike with little man. It felt like quite the accomplishment, I guess so much so that we haven’t been able to do anything longer since (at least as hiking is concerned — we have actually done a few longer runs). I was hoping to have a new longest this weekend. We would do it by just spending all day hiking and taking breaks for little man whenever they were needed. We picked a spectacular trail for this attempt.

Starting at the South Lake Trailhead, just outside of Bishop, we would hike past South Lake, Saddlerock Lake, and up to Bishop Pass. Long Lake was absolutely beautiful, with Hurd Peak and Mt. Goode rising behind it. We ate lunch for quite a while at Saddlerock Lake, and then continued, past Bishop Lake, and began making our way up to the pass. Unfortunately, we hit some pretty fierce wind gusts, which the little man wasn’t a fan of. We turned back a bit, took another break, and tried going up again. We made it a bit further, but the wind gusts were freaking the poor guy out a bit. Rather than imprint a bad impression, we decided to turn around and enjoy the trip back at a slower pace. We didn’t have a new longest — I think overall we were right around the nine mile mark once again, but it was still a fantastic day.

Long Lake

Saddlerock Lake

Looking up towards Bishop Pass


Midnight Rodent Massacre

We were all pretty tired from our long day of hiking, so we got Mason to sleep and after a smore for us, followed him into the tent and went to sleep. At 11:15, he yelled, and screamed, and kept yelling. Luckily our campsite was some distance from the nearest neighbor, but I’m sure they probably heard him, and he kept going.

At 11:45, we decided to climb into the car and drive to see if that would help calm him down. It did, but sleep was still not coming as we drove. Being in a mountain canyon only left the main road as an option, so we drove around miles down to an intersection with another road, before turning around and driving back to the campground. We repeated this five or six times trying to get the little man to sleep, but no luck. Small rodents would run back and forth between the edges of the road as I drove, obviously not expecting anyone to be up at that hour. I swerved minimally to avoid them the best I could in my groggy sleep state, but it was impossible to not hit at least a few of them.

Since he still wasn’t asleep, we decided to just drive the 25 miles into Bishop. What do you do at 2:00 in the morning in Bishop? We were hungry, and the McDonald’s drive in was open, so we got egg muffins and coffee, before heading back up to our campground. We made it back at 2:45. I was ready to pack everything up head home, and perhaps be done permanently with this camping with a toddler thing, but I went to sleep instead.



No Decisions Should Be Made at 2:45 In the Morning

I woke up feeling decent after the long night, but I was still ready to just head home. I planned on eating a little breakfast, packing everything up, and being home by early or mid-afternoon. I took Mason on a little walk down to the water. I did actually want to stay in the mountains, but perhaps get a hotel room. Unfortunately it was forecasted to be 108 in Bishop that day, so the idea of hanging around there wasn’t too appealing. But another 40 miles up the road was Mammoth Lakes, with highs in the low 80s. Once we arrived, we grabbed lunch, walked around town, let Mason play, and we all took naps in the park. I’m glad we decided to stay, and that I didn’t hastily pack up in the middle of the night and drive home.

Sure, he looks all innocent here, but this guy gave us a pretty rough night.


Getting Sucked In

Mountain towns are trouble for me. People riding mountain bikes through town, just returning from rides that start within riding distance of their homes. There are hippies milling about, young ski bums making their way through the Summer, ready for the snow to begin falling again, people getting back from trail runs, or kayaking, or whatever. These towns are made for people who love outdoor adventure, and it’s always mildly painful, but invigorating to experience. Someday I will live like this.

We ended up getting a hotel room for the night. We grabbed a quick pizza for dinner, then headed up to Lake George to do a quick walk before the sun fell. Definitely glad we didn’t head home.

Lake George

Perhaps the highlight of the trip for little man — riding the trolley.

It Ain’t Over Yet

Our final day was exploring Mammoth a bit more, and we spent an hour or so lunching at Lake Mary. The little guy was looking pretty tired, so we decided to leave a little earlier than I was hoping to originally, but we figured he was going to sleep and we definitely want to use that to make some of the drive home. As we approached Lone Pine though, I realized that were heading straight into rush hour in the LA sprawl, and the he was starting to wake up, so we made a last-minute decision to drive up to Whitney Portal, and play in the mountains one last time before heading back.