My First Summer in the Sierra

What’s hard to believe is that at this time last year I was leaving the Big Hole of Montana for my new assignment on the Bill Williams River in Arizona. What a crazy year and what an amazing four months I’ve had so far at my new home in June Lake. The past few weeks have been clouded by smoke from the Walker Lake fire that’s blazing about two miles from my work in Lee Vining. It was heartbreaking when it started, as most fires are and since I’ve bonded deep with this place in such a small amount of time. I know this because of what I personally experienced in Montana and Arizona, places that I also bonded with but with more of a delayed response. The human caused Walker Lake fire is now 75% contained after burning 3,700 acres. The final bits of summer are upon us… kids are going back to school, people are frantically trying to get in that last minute trip, California fire season in full blast… I think I better put it to dirtdiary memory before I forget from the Sierra magic spell I’ve been under.

Not the Eastern Sierras, but I just had to go to SF to meet the new Butler baby Siobhan and see Todd and The Tallest Man on Earth. Although all this was super fun, I couldn't wait to get out of civilization and back to the mountains.
Not the Eastern Sierras, but I just had to go to SF to meet the new Butler baby Siobhan and see Todd and The Tallest Man on Earth. Although all this was super fun, I couldn’t wait to get out of civilization and back to the mountains.

Just a sunset over June Lake, no big deal.
Just a sunset over June Lake, no big deal.

Moonrise over Mono Craters, those soft, weird looking mountains with an aqueduct built beneath them.
Moonrise over Mono Craters, those soft, weird looking mountains with an aqueduct built beneath them.

Ranger Catherine showing the kids where the alkali fly pupae hide. Then we ate them, the flies not the kids.
Ranger Catherine showing the kids where the alkali fly pupae hide. Then we ate them, the flies not the kids.

Dead tree by Dechambeau Ranch, a farming fossil from the homesteading days of Mono Lake.
Dead tree by Dechambeau Ranch, a farming fossil from the homesteading days of Mono Lake.

Chidago Canyon petroglyphs with Dude dog.
Chidago Canyon petroglyphs with Dude dog.

If you went to Benton Hot Springs, you'd want to happily jump through the air too! This place is bomb, you get a camping site with your own personal natural hot spring hot tub. You can see it in the background. Clothing OPTIONAL!
If you went to Benton Hot Springs, you’d want to happily jump through the air too! This place is bomb, you get a camping site with your own personal natural hot spring hot tub. You can see it in the background. Clothing OPTIONAL!

The Twenty-lakes Basin trail will get you to places like this. It's one of the easiest backcountry trails around and extremely popular, for obvious reasons.
The Twenty-lakes Basin trail will get you to places like this. It’s one of the easiest backcountry trails around and extremely popular, for obvious reasons.

View of Saddlebag Lake on the left with Richie walking the saddle.
View of Saddlebag Lake on the left with Richie walking the saddle.

Just one more from Twenty lakes, I just can't help myself. So beautiful with the wildflowers blooming and turquoise lakes all around.
Just one more from Twenty lakes, I just can’t help myself. So beautiful with the wildflowers blooming and turquoise lakes all around.

My first trip to the Yosemite valley was ridiculously beautiful. Even went early enough to see the waterfalls. The best photos are the ones I didn't take on the Merced River through the valley. I didn't want to get my phone wet as we floated down the river in a raft.   Who needs to hike all crazy when you can just float instead!
My first trip to the Yosemite valley was ridiculously beautiful. Even went early enough to see the waterfalls. The best photos are the ones I didn’t take on the Merced River through the valley. I didn’t want to get my phone wet as we floated down the river in a raft. Who needs to hike all crazy when you can just float instead!

The Mariposa grove of giant sequoias is now closed for years due to restoration. Luckily we made it just in time to stand inside this ginormous tree. Yes, we waited in line for that damn shot.
The Mariposa grove of giant sequoias is now closed for years due to restoration. Luckily we made it just in time to stand inside this ginormous tree. Yes, we waited in line for that damn shot.

The Butlers visited me! The first to venture out to my new town. We took a ski lift up to the top of June Mountain. The baby cried the whole way up and slept the whole way down.
The Butlers visited me! The first to venture out to my new town. We took a ski lift up to the top of June Mountain. The baby cried the whole way up and slept the whole way down.

View from the top of June Mountain. You can see my house from there!
View from the top of June Mountain. You can see my house from there!

Butler family photo on June Lake beach!
Butler family photo on June Lake beach!

View of Mono Lake as seen from the top of Mono Pass in Yosemite. An awesome day hike to do without going too far into the park.
View of Mono Lake as seen from the top of Mono Pass in Yosemite. An awesome day hike to do without going too far into the park.

One of the town bears, walking under a street light, as seen from my deck! This bear was taking advantage of the garbage men not coming for a few weeks. Our dumpster was so full and there was just enough space for it to get it's hand in there, several nights in a row, to grab some delicious garbage.
One of the town bears, walking under a street light, as seen from my deck! This bear was taking advantage of the garbage men not coming for a few weeks. Our dumpster was so full and there was just enough space for it to get it’s hand in there, several nights in a row, to grab some delicious garbage.

Mono Lake, when it's windy, makes a bubble bath. There are so many salts, carbonates and minerals that the water is similar in composition to soap. To do laundry, Mark Twain used to tie his dirty clothes to his boat and paddle around the lake.
Mono Lake, when it’s windy, makes a bubble bath. There are so many salts, carbonates and minerals that the water is similar in composition to soap. To do laundry, Mark Twain used to tie his dirty clothes to his boat and paddle around the lake.

Then, my parents came to visit! We went fishing on June Lake during a very windy day and caught a bunch of nothing.
Then, my parents came to visit! We went fishing on June Lake during a very windy day and caught a bunch of nothing.

We went to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and hung out with some old ass trees. They were all so uniquely different with their twists and turns and probably had insane stories to tell, if they could talk. What an amazing place!
We went to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and hung out with some old ass trees. They were all so uniquely different with their twists and turns and probably had insane stories to tell, if they could talk. What an amazing place!

My dad with an old tree. He made the dirtdiaries hall of fame cuz he went on a hike around the Schulman Grove. My dad. Hiking.
My dad with an old tree. He made the dirtdiaries hall of fame cuz he went on a hike around the Schulman Grove. My dad. Hiking.

Then, Adriana came to visit! I took her everywhere too! We camped at Virginia Lakes and went to Travertine hot springs and had them pretty much to ourselves.
Then, Adriana came to visit! I took her everywhere too! We camped at Virginia Lakes and went to Travertine hot springs and had them pretty much to ourselves.

There was this abandoned mining cabin off the Virginia Lakes trail with artifacts still in it. I can't believe it wasn't looted.
There was this abandoned mining cabin off the Virginia Lakes trail with artifacts still in it. I can’t believe it wasn’t looted.

We hiked past Blue Lake, Cooney Lake, Lower Frog and Upper Frog Lake. So many lakes! California still has water left. Some of which has little tadpoles floating in it.
We hiked past Blue Lake, Cooney Lake, Lower Frog and Upper Frog Lake. So many lakes! California still has water left. Some of which has little tadpoles floating in it.

Fishing with Dude interlude and a sunset over Grant Lake.
Fishing with Dude interlude and a sunset over Grant Lake.

Then, I met Todd in Big Pine and we camped at Big Pine Creek. This is the North Fork trail on the creek that leads to paradise.
Then, I met Todd in Big Pine and we camped at Big Pine Creek. This is the North Fork trail on the creek that leads to paradise.

Not lying about paradise, these were the bluest lakes thus far. Lake #1 or was it #2 or #3... none of these lakes have proper names. I guess someone just gave up on naming lakes. But it goes up to #7! We just made it to 3.
Not lying about paradise, these were the bluest lakes thus far. Lake #1 or was it #2 or #3… none of these lakes have proper names. I guess someone just gave up on naming lakes. But it goes up to #7! We just made it to 3.

Todd in front of Temple Crag and Lake #3.
Todd in front of Temple Crag and Lake #3.

That's me looking all cool but being a total chicken for not going deep. How could you not swim in such blue water?! It was painfully cold, as suspected.
That’s me looking all cool but being a total chicken for not going deep. How could you not swim in such blue water?! It was painfully cold, as suspected.

The Walker fire smoke as seen over June Lake. People were pulled over on the 395 taking photos of the fire line. Drones were being flown into close range of the fire as well. People just got to get their shot, no matter what.
The Walker fire smoke as seen over June Lake. People were pulled over on the 395 taking photos of the fire line. Drones were being flown into close range of the fire as well. People just got to get their shot, no matter what.

So there you have it, I’m not hating life. Life up north is beyond good. I’m a little anxious for my first winter in over 11 years. All my seasonal coworkers are leaving me alone. I have to get used to weather again. Buy some sort of insulated boot like thing to put on my feet. I’ll probably end up snowboarding or skiing, things I’ve vowed never ever to do again ever. But for now, I should be in the moment right? Enjoy summers remaining days, embrace fall and the aspens that will put on a show in a few months. Reflect on what my life has evolved into, a new phase of sorts that is just beginning. I still don’t know what I’m doing but sometimes it feels like I do.

Yours truly having a  beach day at June Lake! I deserve it!!!
Yours truly having a beach day at June Lake! I deserve it!!!
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7 thoughts on “My First Summer in the Sierra

  1. Yes,Jenny, you do deserve it. Beautiful pictures. So glad you are enjoying life and what you are doing. So many people cannot say that! Al

  2. I wish I was there. If anything could be more beautiful, I couldn’t tell you. Thanks for sharing your adventures with your ole AuntiePatt. Love you and keep exploring what life has to offer.

  3. Temple Crag! Love it up there. It’s funny, you call it ‘up north’, in SF we call it ‘going east.’ Looks like you’re having a great time, and I’m jealous!

  4. Sorry it took so long to view your Pixs… Again too beautiful.
    You are a lucky girl to live in such beauty.
    Enjoy Life
    Love ya
    Ma

  5. Did you get up to Sam Mack Meadow?? Up a steep ascent, behind Temple Crag, is the most beautiful meadow I’ve encountered in the Sierra. It has super short, soft grass, and the stream (which is fed by the glacier and which outlets to the lakes below) is super milky from the crushed granite and has perfectly jumpable rocks dotting it. This is from a trip in 2012: http://on.fb.me/1PypFeP I want my ashes to be spread there when I die.

    Also, here’s a photo of the bottom 3 lakes from the nearby peak: http://on.fb.me/1HWfsRq

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