Galloping into Fall in the eastern Sierras

I just spent ten days walking in autumn leaves, taking selfies with my ridiculous dog and holding in twenty pounds of Butter Chicken belly fat in photos. It was a fine fall getaway to the eastern Sierras. You know it is finally falls weather when you can never find that perfect temperature. The pup and I are back from this mornings ten mile eastern Sierras fall colors trek now this morning and it’s freezing in the shade and sweltering in the sun. Welcome to autumn in the mountains. This has been a very strange autumn in the mountains of California as it has been so much warmer than usual. Even back at our home in Big Bear Lake, my tomatoes in my garden have not frozen yet and it’s mid-October! Tomorrow I am taking my butter chicken butt to Silver Lake for a fall colors trek and I have heard the aspens are not even changing colors there yet which is very strange for mid October.

But back to my skills at sucking in all my butter chicken belly fat. This is not what I actually look like. I’m sucking in twenty pounds of butter chicken belly fat. I also deserve a medal for how skilled I am at sucking in all my fat for an Instagram-worthy photo. This is one of my many skills besides creating a delicious campfire Ghee Roast.

My old dog has been on a youthful tear this past vacation week and it hasn’t exactly been bearable. One would think, oh yeah it’s great for your old dog to feel like a young pup again but on Carly’s journey to the eastern Sierras, her personal fountain of youth has her acting like a hyper weirdo. On our first day of this journey to hike in the fall colors, we trekked eight miles to Long Lake below Bishop Pass. The fall colors were just spectacular as we traveled towards South Lake to start the hike. Hiking eight miles with a thirteen-year-old vacation dog should be enough to exhaust any pup. But when we returned to our campsite at Brownstown RV down in the valley at Bishop three thousand feet below the changing aspens she just could not control her urges. She should have been tired after this hike. Ins

Old lady dog approved, sunrise over Lake Sabrina

tead, when I put her on the teether while I was making dinner so she could be outside around her family, she threw a tantrum like a toddler and barked and yelped at us none stop. All the other well-behaved dogs, also on teethers nearby looked at her, like what is wrong with this crazy bitch?

So obviously on day two of our fall colors shenanigans, I had to walk the bitch much further. Okay, sure up over two thousand feet in altitude we would go. Blue Lake way above Lake Sabrina and further was the goal but approaching the gorgeous hues of Blue Lake as the sun was just rising over the Sabrina Basin at seven a.m. I realized I forgot sunscreen! Our dreams to trek to Hungry Packer and Moonlight Lake were dashed but luckily there are so many awesome lakes and trails to be explored in the eastern Sierras this fall. With limited time in the eastern Sierras to hike, I try to take advantage of all those daylight hiking hours I can. Especially since my old lady dog has become young again and needs to be entertained constantly, I guess.

I was so blessed this October to be able to take ten days of my life and spend it among the orange aspens of the eastern Sierras. There are a lot of places I would like to be in autumn in southern California but the changing colors of the golden aspen trees along Highway 395 have a special hold on me.

Last week on October 9th before all the fall wet weather arrived basically we attempted to hike everywhere scenic in the Sabrina Basin. We had to get to hiking and start before the fall colors at upper Sabrina were done. The pup and I still did an awesome trek to Blue Lake and we would have gone farther but I forgot that damn sunscreen. So instead we took a few selfies and headed back down the trail to the South Lake area to frolic in the Aspen’s while most trekkers were just hitting the trails on that Sunday. When going on a hike anywhere above Aspendell in the eastern Sierras try to get to the trailhead at dawn and you will get the best sunrise photos over Lake Sabrina not to mention VIP parking.

On October 9th, the aspen’s we’re absolutely perfect near Parcher’s Resort. I had a big plan to do a second trek to the Tyee Lakes but I hadn’t hiked here in many years and kind of forgot how hard the Tyee Lakes hike was. I did the bottom mile and a half and the fall colors were popping on this trail. Last time, a few years back when I made it to the Tyee Lakes there was snow at the lakes, and I remember the snow and the oranges and yellows were just so scenic. Bummer I didn’t make it all the way to the lakes on the 9th but I will be back to do this one next year for sure. I got so many scenic photos of the pup and I under the aspens near South Lake and we were back down in Mammoth Lakes by three p.m. and ready to check into our campsite at New Shady Rest. Campgrounds near Sabrina or Rock Creek will be nuts with people and the leaf peeping tourists everywhere all October. We like to stay at the much more quite New Shady Rest in Mammoth Lakes. During the six nights we stayed at New Shady Rest there was hardly anyone in the entire campground and it was so quiet and zen-like the whole time.

Rock Creek Lake and beyond

Take my advice. Hike here above Rock Creek Lake on a rainy fall day. I trekked up to Mono Pass on Columbus Day, indigenous people’s day, or whatever you want to call it. It was a holiday weekend when normally there would be a ton of people up at the Rock Creek area. I mean this area is usually insane with tourists for most of October with all of the aspen’s changing in colors.  My vacation dog and I were so blessed on this grey October day to barely see another person on our entire ten-mile trek! It was just fantastic.

Mono Pass here we come!

The young pup and I dressed in our warmest sweaters and started out the hike at seven a.m.under a cloudy Sierra sky. I had rain gear packed in my backpack just in case, and enough breakfast, lunch and dog snacks to keep us going all day. We were prepared. Even though this hike begins at well over nine thousand feet I was not expecting snow but sure enough, three miles in to the hike it began to snow on us. The sun was still out at this point but the clouds were building in the distance. At this point, I was getting a bit tired as we staggered uphill up the relentless switchbacks but the sunny morning, the snow falling down and the freshness of the air in the high sierra invigorated me. Until I realized I still had two miles to hike almost straight uphill. There was another trail you could actually take to the top of Mt Starr at over 12,000 feet that I had never noticed before but I thought, nope. Not even if my pup and I were still young and I didn’t have a butter chicken butt.

Summit Lake

A snowy ass kicking trekking morning

This hike may have been a ass kicker but I needed this and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day on the trail. I mean if you love wet and snowy weather, which I clearly do. We were dressed warm, we had a bunch of good healthy food packed with us. I did start to wonder as we took selfies at the summit if it was also snowing back down below at over nine thousand feet where my tow car two-wheel drive Suzuki was parked.

The horse girl in me approves of these costumes.

I had originally wanted to take a detour to Ruby Lake on our way back down from lovely Summit Lake but the snow was beginning to stick at that point so I decided to trek to Ruby Lake the next day with my family in tow. My boyfriend and I needed to get some lovey-dovy fall colors photos in our Halloween costumes anyways! The Ruby Lake hike is pretty easy; Just over four miles from the Mosquito Flat’s Trailhead, just an FYI.

The pup and I made it back down to the parking lot in record time and my plan was to have my lunch under the aspens at Rock Creek Lake. But we drove over to Rock Creek and strangely the road to Rock Creek Lake was already closed for the season! I’ve never been here in October for the fall colors when the road was closed. When we came back the following day to do another trek to nearby Ruby Lake I noticed the cafe was closed also. So strange when this area is just banging with tourists in October! So if you want to fish at Rock Creek Lake or eat pie at the lodge be prepared in advance.

So all of this talk of hiking and butter chicken butt, I bet you are dying to make butter chicken yourself now! Take my advice and get a hot Indian boyfriend to spend four hours of his evening serenading you and making you Butter Chicken from scratch. Or you can make your own Butter Chicken with this awesome recipe that he taught me.

Happy hiking this fall from the Hungry Mountaineer and vacation dog!