Sally and Raven took us up to the old mining town of Bennettville in the Tioga Pass area, then up to icy lakes above the 10,000 foot elevation. Snowy mountains surrounding the lakes with puffy clouds made the scenery even more dramatic this day and the dogs always add an extra fun actor!
Where: Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest
Distance: 6.63 Miles
Elevation Range: 9,534′ – 10,383
Date: June 2, 2014
Maps: Falls Ridge and June Lake Topogs
We headed east on the Tioga Road, enjoying the beautiful scenery on the way over. We were floored when we came to Tioga Lake, pulling off the road to see the incredible reflections of the surrounding snow covered mountains in the broken icy lake. Wow, what a start to the day.
We parked at the turnout at Tioga and Saddlebag Road, about 2.2 miles east of the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite, just before the Junction Campground (not open yet). Sally and Raven were ready to go!! We headed up the trail to the old mining town of Bennettville. The trail follows Mine Creek as you head up the trail toward Bennettville and you can see the old mine up on the side of the hill.
The tailings give the location away. There used to be 14 buildings but they have been lost to time. The United States Forest Service restored two of the buildings, an assay office and a bunkhouse, back in 1993. Walking around the buildings, we could see where people had found old treasures from the past and placed them for people to see them. Old pieces of bottles and metal pieces had us wondering what purpose they had served and what were the miners like who lived up here?
What kind of view did these miners have back then?
Deb and Raven walked back to check out the area behind the buildings and discovered this small cave. Was it part of old diggins, an old cellar or did it service some other purpose?
We headed up the trail to the first of our 5 lakes on this hike. Shell Lake was very pretty. The wind was calm so we had some nice reflections and although the lake was not iced over, there were fringes of ice along the edges.
Sally was jumping for joy!
Looking back south with Mount Dana in the background, I think Sally is saying “can you believe this view?”
When we reached Fantail Lake, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The reflected snow covered mountain had reflected swirling patterns of snow in the still waters of the lake.
As we topped out, we could see Maul and Green Treble Lakes below me. Gorgeous! (Next 4 photos by Debra Sutherland)
I took one look at the ice and snow covered boulder field that I needed to cross to get down to the bottom and knew just the trick to accomplish it. We call it “butt sliding.” I took a little jump to get my momentum going and off I went. How fun! The dogs thought it was pretty fun also.
The rest of my hiking party would soon follow my lead. The biggest danger was that the dogs thought it was one great big game and would try and get in on the fun. Check out the short video I did of some of out butt sliding on this hike.
We all safely made it down to Maul Lake and checked out the ice that covered it, then found a nice flat rock to enjoy our lunch at Green Treble Lake.
While eating our lunch, we noticed a few wispy clouds starting to float over the crest of the highest mountains. They were beautiful, the way that they contrasted with the blue sky and snow.
We thought we had better start moving back. Sometimes those clouds can build up quickly.
The only technique for climbing uphill through melting snow and ice we know if putting one foot in front of the other, so up we went. (Photo by Debra Sutherland)
When we got to the crest, we looked back to get a glimpse of Saddlebag Lake. . .and a few more clouds.
We were presented with several more opportunities to butt slide down the snowy hills. Great fun!
When we reached Spuller Lake, the clouds we building and floating over the mountains, changing the light every few seconds. It is difficult to describe how amazing this was. The way the clouds blocked or reflected the light was creating an every changing view in this small area.
As we wandered down on the trail, we came across this framed in box and have no idea what it was for. Perhaps a reader can help enlighten us? I am guessing that it had something to do with the mining that occurred in the area.
We kept an eye on the skies, both looking south toward Mount Dana and where we had traveled from.
As we walked down, we spotted where someone had skied down a ridge off of White Mountain. There were beautiful views in every direction.
I wanted to show my hiking buddies what I had stumbled across last year, so we swung to the east along the ridge between Mine and Lee Vining Creeks. There were many stacks of timbers that lined up and ready to be loaded to take to the Great Sierra Mine. I am guessing that these were cut about the time the mine went out of operation around 1933. They sure get your imagination going, wondering about how much hard work was involved in this operation and yet, they never got loaded up or to their intended destination. What type of men were involved in this wood cutting operation and what happened to them?
We reached Bennettville and never felt any rain. What a beautiful hike! And Tioga Pass Resort was open for the season, so we talked about those pies that they are famous for. We had to make a stop before heading home.
The Tioga Pass Resort is celebrating their 100th anniversary. The following information is taken from their website:
Albert J. Gardisky first came to Tioga Pass in 1914; he constructed Cabin 1 that year, and began mining and trapping. Gardisky quickly learned, however, that he could make a better living providing food and shelter to the growing number of travelers crossing through Tioga Pass.
By 1916, Gardisky, together with a mule and a block and tackle, had completed Cabins 1, 2, 3 and 4, and the Main Lodge. When the winter of 1920 crushed the flat roof on the Main Lodge, Gardisky re-built the roof into its current two story A-frame. The cold storage room was added in the 1920s, as was the first “Old Kitchen”. By the mid-1920s, “Camp Tioga,” as it was known until 1951, provided travelers with roadside food and lodging not unlike today. Gardisky lived at the resort year-round from 1914 to 1935, and wintered in Lee Vining until he passed on in 1943.
After Gardisky’s death, his relatives, believing Al had hidden his “treasure” in one of the buildings, tore apart the floorboards of all of the buildings. Finding nothing, they quickly sold Camp Tioga to Gerald and Eunice Younge. The Younges didn’t take to the resort, and sold it six months later to Hal and Edna Bergland. During their fourteen years at TPR, the Berglands re-roofed and added bathrooms to the cabins, built “modern” infrastructure, constructed the Café and new kitchen additions, built (with Lee Vining local “Frenchy” Davis) the stone fireplace (travertine stones were taken from the Mono Basin, crystal from Maul and Treble Lakes, obsidian from the Mono Craters, and the exterior granite from the Blue Slide on Tioga Pass Road). During their ownership, the Berglands also built the Saddlebag Lake Resort. In 1957, the Berglands sold the Tioga Pass Resort to Raymond and Margaret Yawman (the Berglands kept the Saddlebag Lake Resort), who operated the resort until 1963.
In 1963 Neil and Georgia Kelly took over, and for 31 years the old “Camp Tioga” was slowly molded into the “Tioga Pass Resort” of today. In 1994, Kelly sold the resort to Tioga Pass Resort, Inc., a company headed by Bob and Claudette Agard, who had managed the resort for Kelly for several years. Among other things, the Agards were responsible for starting the first winter operation at the Tioga Pass Resort.
In 2002, Tioga Pass Resort, LLC, a company formed by a group of outdoor enthusiasts headed by John Landsberger, Michael Entin, and Ron Cohen took over operation of TPR. Our goal is to cement TPR’s reputation as the first and finest Eastern Sierra resort. We hope you enjoy the improvements we have instituted!
You can find out more information on the cabins that they have for rent and the restaurant at their web page: http://www.tiogapassresort.com/history.html
In the store, we looked around at the wonderful selection of original art work and photographs of the area, then checked out the pie selection. One of us was tempted by some of the other goodies that they had and took a care package with us.
We made a quick stop at Tunnelview on our way home to see if the cumulus buildup would be photo worthy and I thought that it was.
We all had a wonderful day but continued to be exhilarated by the beauty of the Tioga Pass area. I wonder what the dogs thought about the day as we drove home. I think they had a wonderful time.
This can be a great dog hike but I wanted to share a couple of cautions. Some of the rocks can be very abrasive and sharp in this area. I carried boots for Sally on this hike and greased her feet up with Musher’s Secret before and after. They were a little worn, but nothing serious. Because this was a rather shorter hike, it wasn’t too hard on them. I have hiked longer hikes in this country and poor Miss Sally’s feet can get worn so I keep an eye on her, checking her out during our hikes and putting boots on her if needed. There was plenty of water (and snow) on this hike for our dogs.
Mine Creek and the lakes have always been full during the summer but if you deviate from the creek areas, it might be a ways for water for the dog and you may need to pack some.
To read my prior Blog on hiking in the Bennettville area with a 9 month old pup named Sally and a little more information on the mining history, you can access it here.
TIOGA TRAMPS Day Hikes In The Tioga Pass Region, John Carroll O’Neill and Elizabeth Stone O’Neill, 2002, Albicaulis Press, Pg 50-53.