Home » 2018 Eastern Sierra with Outlaws

Bridgeport, CA

Sunday, October 7, 2018 - 10:00pm by Lolo
276 miles and 6 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Foliage along the Virginia Lakes TrailFoliage along the Virginia Lakes TrailAs we usually do when driving across the Sierra in our motorhome, we took the slightly longer route of going along South Lake Tahoe on Route 50 and up towards Gardnerville, NV, before heading south on 395 to avoid the steeper mountain passes, such as Sonora and Monitor Passes.

The drive was very pretty, as the aspens had already taken on a beautiful golden glow, highlighting them against the usual greenery of this stunning mountain landscape.

We met up with Paul and Hilda at the Bridgeport Reservoir Marina and Campground where we had made camping reservations for the night. The campground was small and not very fancy in terms of facilities, but it did have the advantage of being located right on a reservoir, known for its great trout fishing. Also, right beyond the dam at the end of the Reservoir, was the east fork of the Walker River, another theoretically productive fishing ground.

East Walker RiverEast Walker RiverThe guys couldn’t miss - the pressure was on. That would be tomorrow’s activity, as it was already too late in the day to do much other than set up camp and make dinner. It’s on cold nights in the Sierra that our cozy Lazy Daze really comes into its own, as we can comfortably entertain four people (we have done as many as eight) in the back living area. To think we almost thought of not bringing it and camping in the back of our 4Runner instead. What were we thinking? Thankfully, we returned to our senses in time.

The next morning, we set out to explore the East Walker River, just up the road from our campground. A little pathway wound its way along the river, giving Hilda and I a place to set up our chairs and watch our men deliver dinner - just kidding. The East Walker is actually catch-and-release, so we had wisely food shopped ahead.

Virginia Lakes TrailVirginia Lakes TrailHerb experienced a bad bout of “gear envy” as Paul donned his fancy new waders and vest and began setting up his very nice fly rod. He looked like he belonged on the cover of Trout Unlimited. Fortunately for Herb, the fish didn’t care, and they each managed to land a very nice trout.

I’m not particularly great at just sitting around watching other people do fun things, so I was glad when we decided to keep the fishing to just the morning and spend the afternoon hiking.

Hilda and Paul are great hiking partners. In fact, they are the only other couple we know (with the exception of our kids and their significant others) that are hardy enough to do the distances and elevation gains we like to do. Once again, we thank Andrew for finding such compatible in-laws for us to play with.

Virginia Lakes TrailVirginia Lakes TrailWe’ve done a lot of hikes in the Eastern Sierra, so it’s always nice to find something new. We chose the Virginia Lakes Trail, both for its highly rated scenery, as well as for the fact that it was listed as a great spot to see fall foliage. Plus its 5 to 6 miles distance was just about right for an afternoon amble.

We drove 13 miles south on 395 and turned right onto the Virginia Lakes Road, which we followed for about 6 miles before getting to the trailhead at the Big Virginia Lake day-use area. We hadn’t even left the car yet, and we were already at a beautiful alpine lake. The trailhead was set at 9,500 feet, so we knew we were going to have to pace ourselves, as we were not yet acclimated to this high of an elevation.

Virginia LakesVirginia LakesAs we started off on the trail through a forest of golden quaking aspen, we knew this hike was going to be great. In less than a half-mile, we came upon Blue Lake, the first of five small alpine lakes we would pass along the way, each of which was set amidst a backdrop of colorful 12,000+ feet mountain peaks.

We continued on past Cooney Lake and the Frog Lakes, all still less than two miles from the trailhead. When ranking trails on the basis of scenery per mile, this one was certainly a winner. It helped distract us from the fact that we were continuously climbing since we left the car. After the Frog Lakes, the trail did begin to climb a bit more steeply as it headed towards 11,100-foot Summit Pass looming before us.

However, that Pass was not on our agenda for the day, so after about 2.75 miles, we turned around and retraced our steps back down to the trailhead. Even though I do prefer loop hikes, the scenery on the way back on an out-and-back, often feels quite different than the way in.

Virginia Lakes TrailVirginia Lakes TrailLet’s just say we were very satisfied with our hiking selection for the day.

Before heading back to Bridgeport, we drove a few miles south on 395 to one of our favorite viewpoints of Mono Lake and the surrounding Mono Basin. You’ll know you’re at the right spot when you see the hundreds of bumper stickers decorating the guard rail.

Then it was back to the Bridgeport Reservoir Marina and Campground for another night of cozying up in the back of the Lazy Daze, eating dinner, sipping wine, and listening to our men describe the now legendary trout that they had caught that morning.

Bridgeport location map in "high definition"

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