Twin Lakes Trip - hike three to the Lakes along Mine Creek

posted in September, 2019

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Today it was very sunny at elevation 10,000 ft.  From Bridgeport we drove south on 395 past Mono Lake and Lee Vining, and then we took Tioga Pass Rd., the same as Highway 120 to Yosemite, exiting at the turnoff to Saddleback Lake, just shy of the Park entrance & Tuolumne Meadows.   

We parked and took the walk past the old Bennettville Mine area and then gradually worked our way uphill to a chain of small lakes, all fed by Mine Creek.

It was a gorgeous day out and we saw Shell Lake, tiny Mine Lake, and larger Fantail Lake. we only walked 5.6 miles round trip with about 600 ft. of elevation gain, a stroll-in-the-mountains day. 

Our view of Mount Dana at 13,057 ft., to the south, kept changing as the day went by.  At one spot I took a photo of Rick, Geno, and Dick, who had a memorable day ascending that austere looking peak about 5 years ago. 

Before the drive to the walk, many of us stopped at a motel in Bridgeport to say goodbye to Patrick, Victoria, and Elise, who had to return to Pittsburgh, Pa.  Patrick said next year they will match all of our four nights out, as they stayed 3 of 4 nights this year.  Both Patrick and Victoria work for the Operations Department at airports back east and have long resumes, beginning at Sacramento.      

note: you can zoom in on any part of a photo by left clicking in & then out again.  (all photos are shown in the order taken)

at the Silver Maple Inn not a Silver Maple Patrick & Elise our farewell   
the drive to Mine Creek the peaks above Twin Lakes Virginia Lakes area Mine Creek trailhead eleven of us on today's walk
  nice light here   Jerry & Jean plus others  
  restored bldg. at  Bennettville   interior look Jerry
Rick   getting to the good scenery Shell Lake &  Mount Conness
  the walk, cont'd. R&D department Geno, Rick, and Dick w/Mt. Dana a water dog
Surjit & Mt.  Conness  path along Mine Creek paintbrush beneath a pine tree
Alium (wild onion) likes wet feet Mt. Conness, see note below
at Fantail Lake walkers with dogs lupine

note - the handout states: "ahead looms the pale granite massif of Mount Conness like a legendary castle in Spain." 

We had lunch at a prominent mound with a good view of Fantail Lake and Mount Dana. 

hikers at the lunch spot Mt. Dana Linda at creek, see note 1 Julie & Rick  
  ready for the walk back   leaving Fantail Lake an Osprey
  aquatic grass another Mount Dana view Linda   
  Rich   the mine went bust almost back
crashing Mine Creek see note 2 below tufa at Mono Lake      

note 1 - this little waterfall and creek is where Linda went searching for a rock with meaning and found one with a 'bird-in-flight' pattern.  It was only a few minutes later when we both saw an Osprey fly over us a couple of times, looking like the image on the rock, an interesting coincidence.  Then it flew off, probably to much larger Saddleback Lake, for lunch.  This was the smallest Osprey I have ever seen, probably a fairly young one.   

note 2 - this e clampus vitus historical plaque at the parking area had some good info on the original building of Tioga Pass Road in the 1800s.  That roadway is a steady 8% grade and represents an impressive engineering & construction achievement.  The two photos I took from the car weren't worth posting so here's a photo I took in August 2013.    

Tioga Pass Road

Postscript

On the early morning departure for home, I took a photo of the striking mountains towering above Twin Lakes.  Later on the drive I took two images on Monitor Pass, which truly IS a fabulous drive.  On uncrowded days like the ones we encountered, you can go any speed you wish and on this road the slower you go, the more you can take in the spectacular terrain.    

After arriving in Markleeville, I stopped to search for good coffee.  A local directed me to the nearest place and within five minutes I was joined by Rich & Linda and then by Jean, Julie & Rick, and, Geno and Dick, all of whom were apparently just behind me, on the Pass. 

Our little un-planned & impromptu group had a late breakfast or early lunch at a great little restaurant, and I had a fabulous Americano, plus one to go, as it's still a long drive home from here.      

In Markleeville Linda showed me the bird-in-flight rock, a perfect end to this trip.  

farewell to Twin Lakes start of Monitor Pass drive near the summit Linda's found  rock w/bird flying pattern

My appreciation goes out to everyone who attended this year.         

Twin Lakes Trip - hike one to Barney Lake

Twin Lakes Trip - hike two to Green Lake

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