What do you do to celebrate the first day of Fall? Head to the east side of the Sierra to check out the early fall color at the higher elevations. We didn’t know what we would find but hoped we would find some Aspens turning their pretty fall colors.
Distance: About 300 miles roundtrip
Elevation Range: 7,200′ to 9,000′
Date: September 23, 2015
Driving east over Tioga Rd., we made a stop where the 9,000′ elevation sign is just east of Ellery Lake. There is a wide spot here where we parked and walked down the old road, seeing some color.
After this walk that stretched our legs and our enthusiasm about the amount of color that we were seeing this early, we continued east to Hwy 395, then north, past Conway Summit. We noted the shape of the fall color of the aspens along the way.
We turned left on Green Creek Rd., heading up the gravel, sometimes washboard road, to Dynamo Pond.
Did you know that this is the site of the first hydro-electrical generating plant in the United States? 13 miles away from Bodie, back around 1890 the town was using a tremendous amount of wood to produce the steam for the mines, in addition to the homes and businesses. The Chinese provided this by the “mule load” until the Bodie-Benton Railroad was completed to transport heavy loads of lumber and firewood.
Tom Legett, the Superintendent of the Standard Mine, trying to find ways to reduce the $22,000 costs related to cordwood, was confident that “free” electricity could power the mine. He convinced stockholders to invest in the idea and the Standard Mining Company bought up the land they needed to capture the flow from Green Creek, with the construction of the plant completed in 1892. Green Creek already had a ditch that had been constructed for mining, long abandoned though.
When the power line was surveyed, the surveyors were instructed to make sure it was absolutely straight and had no angles or curves because there was the fear that the power might “jump off into space.” The Standard Mill was shut down and equipped with agitators, motors, generators and everything needed to change from steam to electricity. It worked! Last fall, I wrote extensively on the history of this area and you can read more about it here.
We headed up the road, stopping along the way when we saw some nice color.
We continued up the lower portion of the beaver ponds, found a good spot to park where we could have our picnic lunch and walk around to get photos.
Those beaver ponds were drop dead gorgeous. The golden grasses lit up in the sun. We saw beautiful reflections in the water and the mountains that surrounded them had spots where it looked like a river of yellow aspens drew a line down the mountain.
It was time to move up the road but we only made it a while till the scenery begged us to take this picture of a beaver dam in the upper end of meadow.
We drove all the way to the end of the road where the Trailhead to Green Lake begins, then headed back down the road. The afternoon light on the trees on the way down caught our eye and we made several photography stops along the way.
How could we resist the opportunity to take some groups shots with those beautiful yellow aspens as a backdrop?
We headed south on Hwy 395, turning off on Virginia Lakes Rd. Our first stop was Trumbull Lake and what beautiful reflections!
Our next stop was Big Virginia Lake.
There were quite a few people fishing. Some were on the shore and some were in float rafts. Look at this huge fish this fisherman landed. That is huge!
Our last stop was Little Virginia Lake. So pretty!
As we headed back down the road with that afternoon sun at our backs, it started lighting up the color on the aspens on the way down. The butterflies were mighty busy working the flowers.
Heading back down Hwy 395, we stopped at Conway Summit, 8,123’ elevation, with that unbelievable backdrop of Mono Lake behind us. We met some nice people visiting from Tennessee that took our picture for us. We returned the favor, taking one of them.
It was a most excellent adventure! We look forward to exploring more color on the east side very soon!
Prior Blogs in the Area: