Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Weekend Trip: U.S. Highway 395 In Autumn, Part 3: Driving South (Mammoth Lakes, Convict Lake, Bishop & Alabama Hills)

Mountain View - Mammoth Lakes, California
Yellow Streak - Mammoth Lakes, California

We awoke to a beautiful view from our hotel balcony. We had arrived at night and everything was dark. Now that the morning sun was illuminating everything, we could see just how nice Mammoth Lakes is. I had to wonder why we'd never visited this side of the Sierra Nevada range before.

After checking out of our room we found a place to enjoy breakfast. Then it was time to hit the road--southbound on U.S. Highway 395. There was plenty on the agenda and we wanted to arrive back home at a decent time.

Convict Lake

The name might be frightening, but Convict Lake, located just a little south of Mammoth Lakes, is nothing short of spectacular! This was our favorite stop of the trip. It's worth a visit!

Convict Lake is located in a bowl with Laural Mountain looming over at the west end. Mount Morrison is south of the lake and is over 12,000' tall. It's a dramatic landscape.

The shoreline was lined with trees displaying fall colors--especially on the south and west sides of the lake. The water was crystal clear--probably the clearest lake I've ever seen. There's a paved path that follows the lake partially around on the south side, so we followed that to the end.

We found a nice spot on the shore and stayed awhile. We skipped rocks. We sat in the shade of some yellow trees and took in the sight. We watched fishermen on their boats, lines in tow. It was a good time! It was definitely relaxing.

None of us wanted to leave, but we still had a long drive and more stops to make, so we headed back to the car and continued south on U.S. Highway 395.
Turning Trees - Convict Lake, California
Convict Lake - Convict Lake, California


The next stop was at Erick Schat's Bakery (yes, that's really the name...) in Bishop. This is a well known place that bakes fresh bread and tasty pastries. Everyone who passes through Bishop stops there, or so it seemed.

I was disappointed that they have a "no photography" policy inside of the place. I did manage to capture a couple of images of the outside, despite the large crowd.

With some fresh bread, coffee cake and cookies, it was time to continue our journey. We had one more stop planned before heading home.
Erick Schat's Bakery Reflection - Bishop, California
Cakes - Bishop, California

Alabama Hills

U.S. Highway 395 was closed in Lone Pine. There was a film festival that weekend, and as part of that the highway was closed for a parade. We stopped at a fast-food joint and had lunch while we waited for the road to reopen.

Just west of Lone Pine is the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. This range of hills and rock formations sit at the base of the Sierra Nevada range near Mt. Whitney. Tons of movies have been filmed here, mostly westerns. There are plaques scattered about that show where different scenes in different movies were filmed.

I was interested in photographing Mobius Arch, which frames Mt. Whitney. There's a trail that loops from a dirt parking lot. The original plan was for all of us to hike to the arch, but when we arrived the trail looked a little too rough and difficult for the kids and stroller. So I went alone while everyone else explored some rocks near the car.

As it turns out the westernmost trailhead would have been fine for the kids and jogging stroller. We could have all made it to Mobius Arch. The eastern half of the loop trail is the tough part and we could have avoided it altogether. But we didn't know.

We explored just a little more, driving to some different sights within Alabama Hills, getting out of the car to read the signs. It's a neat place that I wouldn't mind returning to with better light for photography.
Mt. Whitney Behind Mobius Arch - Lone Pine, California
Mobius Arch - Lone Pine, California
Heart Hole - Lone Pine, California
A couple of hours later and we were home. It was a whirlwind weekend adventure, but one well worth the time and effort. I can't wait to return to these places and hopefully a few of the sights that we missed. Our fall foliage tour of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains exceeded our expectations.

All of the photographs in this post were captured using a Canon PowerShot N. This cheap little camera did a really good job. I was impressed (and surprised) with it for travel photography.

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