I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938Many of you know that for me a trip to the Eastern Sierras is mandatory at least once a year. My absolute favorite destination is Gull Lake, located on the June Lake Loop. Our cousin owns a cabin and we are able to rent it with a bit of advance notice. Our prefered time is the weekend after Labor Day, the masses are gone and the majestic landscape is almost exclusively ours. The weather usually also cooperates and often the fall colors are already in full swing.
The Saturday after Labor Day also marks the day of the annual Eastern Sierra Fall Century ride. This is a spectacular 96 mile ride at high elevation, a ride I have done twice and plan on doing many more times (here is a bit more detail about the ride). However, coming up here is not only about cycling. The area has streams, brooks and lakes which all offer spectacular fly fishing, especially this late in the season.
I love Rush Creek for dry fly fishing and have had superb luck float tubing Silver Lake using my hand tied wooley buggers and matukas. When you are tired of cycling and fishing, you can always go hiking. There are abundend trail heads off the June Lake Loop road. Just assure you have a good trail map and always pack survival essentials. The absence of crowds will make for very limited back country interactions, and the solitude can work against you if you are not prepared. Of course, always let someone know where you go and when you are expecting to be back.
One of my favorite trails is off the Silver Lake pack station and is called Rush Creek trail. Rush Creek follows the historic hydroelectric project, past the Agnew, Gem and Waugh Lake reservoirs, into the high elevations of the “Range of Light” area in the Ansel Adams wilderness. It joins with the John Muir Trail (a section of the Pacific Crest Trail), providing access to the entire length of the Sierra Nevada. Branching off from the Rush Creek Trail are the Spooky Meadows trail, which leads to the Clark Lakes in the Agnew Pass area, and the Gem Pass Trail which goes to the Alger Lakes and connects with Koip Peak Pass. What I like most about this trail is that you can make it as short or as long of a hike as you want. To reach the first pass requires about a 1 1/2 hour hike, so at a minimum it is 3 hours out and back, but it can easily be a full day hike or an overnight trip. If you are ever in the area and have some time, take a day off the bike and start exploring – you will not regret it.
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