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Leaf Peeping with Sally at Convict Lake

I heard some reports that fall was starting to create colorful splashes on those mountains on the east side of the Sierra and had to go check it out for myself. Fall was happening on the east side . . . but so was winter!

Where: Inyo National Forest, John Muir Wilderness
Distance: 2.77 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 7,582’ – 7,691’
Date: October 3, 2017
Map: Bloody Mountain
Dog Hike? Yes

Sally and I headed east over Tioga Rd., then south on Hwy 395 about 35 miles to Convict Lake Rd. We headed for the Convict Lake Campground where we spent a few days. One of our highlights was walking the 2 1/2 mile loop that goes around the lake and I thought you might like to walk along with us. Colorful Laurel Mountain rose in front of us as we started along the south side of the lake.

I have been asked how Convict Lake got its name and Convict Lake Resort had some interesting history on their Home Page.

“In 1929 the resort was officially established as Convict Lake Camp and owned by Bill Garner. Prior to that, the resort area was referred to as Raymer’s Camp.

Convict Lake and Creek are so named as the result of an AMBUSH encounter here September 17, 1871, where a group of inmates escaped from prison in Carson City. Sheriff George Hightower eventually caught up with the convicts and a shootout took place. Robert Morrison a Benton Merchant, Mono Jim and other posse members encountered the convicts on the present Convict Creek, then known as Monte Diablo Creek. In the encounter, Morrison and Mono Jim were killed and the convicts escaped to be captured later in Round Valley. The towering peak above the lake was re-named Mt. Morrison and the smaller one below it Mono Jim.

The Indians are said to have called Convict Lake Wit-sa-nap bearing this legend. “The streams which flowed from the mountains were supposed to be filled with Pot-sa-wa-gees, water babies, who lived in spirit, but were visible to the eye, having the face of an Indian child and the body of a fish. Hi-na-nu was a wise and good man, whose spirit the Indians reverenced, and to whom they looked for guidance in earthly matters. However, he was endeavoring to capture the Pot-sa-wa-gees as they traveled up stream.  When the sources of the streams were reached the water became so shallow that the water babies were in great danger of being taken by their pursuer. They prayed to the Great Spirit for aid, and in answer he caused the waters to flow up hill and to join the waters flowing down from the mountains, uniting in one large, deep lake, wherein the little spirits found safety —Wit-sa-nap, the Convict Lake of to-day.” Sierra Club Bulletin Vol. IX, San Francisco, CA, 1915, Mrs. A.A. Forbes.”

As Sally and I walked, I could spot some yellow color splashing its way up Convict Creek.

Some of the trees along the trail were showing a little more color.

Sally led the way but I kept her close in case I needed to have her heel or put her on leash if I met people and their dogs along the way.

And that color kept on getting stronger, with a smidge or orange.

The trail headed through a tight stand of aspens that were on the early side of their color.

Then the trail headed through a willow patch.

Then meandered through more aspens.

The trail reached a wooden portion that crossed a creek, still running strong in October. In fact the water was running over the trail and this wooden portion but people had put together a log to help cross it. I only got one foot wet when I did this.

Once we were on the other side of that creek, it was smooth sailing on the trail.

We had spots along that stretch where we had peeks at the lake.

Once I came out from under the trees, I could see that the clouds had built some since we first started out.

Heading along the north side of the lake, I could look back at the aspen portion that we had walked through.

The final stretch of the trail gave us a wonderful view.

The color was on the early side and will only get better. Sally and I had a surprise that evening when it started snowing. It didn’t stick at our campsite but the mountains received a nice light white coating that was still hanging in there in the Tioga Pass area a couple of days later when we headed back home.

Dog Hike?

Inyo National Forest shares the following rules for dogs within the forest: Traditionally, National Forests have welcomed dogs. However there are a few rules that apply to assure that you and other National Forest visitors have an enjoyable outdoor recreation experience. There is a great link from the Inyo National Forest regarding their dog rules: Inyo National Forest Hiking and Camping with Dogs

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