Months ago, well before we decided to move to Minnesota, we made some plans with our long-time friends, Wayne and Diane. One of those plans was to share a cabin in June Lake, California and do some hikes in that area. Reaching June Lake was easier to do when we lived in Southern Oregon. It became a more convoluted journey once we settled in Minneapolis. But friendship out-weighs distance, so we did the plane-run thru the airport-car thing to join them at June Lake – just in time to be moistened by a furious thunderstorm-driven downpour. 🌩🌧☂🙄
But after a wet night, the morning dawned bright and clear. 😎😁 Thunderstorms were possible in the afternoon, but, with an early start, we hoped to avoid being soaked and/or barbecued while on the trail. Because its eastern trailhead is near where we were staying, we started our hiking endeavors with the Yost Meadow Loop. To actually make a loop without arranging a shuttle, we had to walk back along Highway 158. No one was pleased by this part of the hike and glares were cast my way for not suggesting a shuttle. 😒
But the Highway 158 slog was ahead of us as we started up out of June Lake through clean, rain-washed air bearing the wonderful scents of damp sage and pine. We went up under tall pines past massive outcrops of the Sierra Nevada’s characteristic granite. All this brought back wonderful memories of all the years I’ve spent tramping and climbing in the Range of Light. I simply couldn’t think of a better place to be at this moment. 😁
About 2.5 miles (4.0 km) from the eastern trailhead, we passed under the upper lifts of the June Lake Ski Area. After a little wandering about, we found the continuation of the single-track trail southwest of the lifts and went on toward Yost Meadow. Along the way we passed through a grove of old, old aspens – some carved with arborglyphs by previous hikers. Maybe not here, but elsewhere in the Sierras, there is aspen art carved by Basque sheepherders, some of it quite old.
We had crossed a small part of the Owens River Headwaters Wilderness, established in 2009, on the way to the ski area and would cross a larger piece of it as we descended Yost Creek and traversed over to Fern Creek.
The trail we were following southwest for much of the morning makes a sharp turn to the northwest just before it passes Yost Meadow and then Yost Lake – the centerpiece features of this hike. The meadow was already starting to gain a tinge of color in anticipation of senescence before the winter months ahead. 🥶
We stopped for a snack at Yost Lake. Between bites of cheese and crackers, we noticed that large, puffy, vaguely threatening clouds were rolling in from the south. A distant roll of thunder was also heard. Time to head down.
Despite the billowing clouds, we got to the trail’s western trailhead, and all the way back along Highway 158, without being rained on. So our 10.0 mile (16.1 km), 1,995 foot (608 m) of elevation gain loop was a dry one. Which is just as well, since the road walk was painful enough without it being a WET road walk. 🥺 But it was still a great day on the trail despite the road part. HOWEVER, I’ll be more motivated in the future to suggest a shuttle when such an option is possible. 😉
It did start raining later in the evening – and then rained solidly all the next day. This rain was most welcome in dry California even though it did cause some destructive flash floods farther north in Mono County. 😥 There always seems to be some give and take with Nature…
This area is particularly scenic when the aspens take on colors in the Fall. Lundy Canyon (just to the north of June Lake) is a prime hike for seeing these colors (and several waterfalls).
California’s rocky peaks are something else! I definitely need to explore more of it.
I love June Lake! We’ve stayed there in a cabin in the fall several times. Thanks for the info on this hike.
Thanks! It was a good and special time. 😊
Beautiful photos and priceless time with friends!