When I left off, we’d just arrived at a campground on the Owen’s River just outside Bishop, CA, where we set up camp tucked into the willows just a few feet from the river’s edge. We built a fire and cooked some delicious Brats, and due to the cold rain that was picking up, we retired early to the campers.
It rained steadily throughout the night. Unfortunately, I forgot to uncap the drain on the camper’s rainwater catchment system, the water did fill it up, and due to not being entirely level some did come over into the front part of my mattress. Indeed, a damp and valuable lesson to share in our users manual.
The morning sun started to burn off the clouds again, and it looked like we were in for a beautiful day. We met with our guide Devin and spent the morning learning how to miss fish after fish. Finally, the powers that be blessed both Jason and me with just enough improvement to our technique to land a few fish. As it warmed up a bit, a hatch began. Devin expertly tied on the perfect #20 Blue Wing Olive dry fly, and we caught several little browns in a short window. The time flew by, and we needed to wrap up and head back to camp. We parted with Devin around noon and spent 10 minutes breaking down camp.
The road North began to gain steadily in elevation. We passed Lake Crowley and continued to the turn-off to Mammoth Lakes. Earlier our guide Devin piqued our interest in heading up here for a look. As we arrived, It seemed this quaint resort town was still buzzing with folks squeezing every last ski day left in the season. Mammoth Lakes reminded me of a cross between mid-80s Bozeman 1990s West Yellowstone and a current Big Sky Resort Village. We found a brewery that served lunch. While we waited for our flatbread lunches, we reflected on the last 24hrs, and a discussion began regarding our next move. We had added Reno to the list of stops earlier but didn’t need to be there until sometime mid the following day. I began scouting onX for some possibilities. We settled on checking out some undeveloped hot springs by Bridgeport called Travertine. We finished lunch, made our way down to 395, and started scooting North again. We wound along this section for another hour or so, passing the entrance to Yosemite National park and then a larger lake called Mona. We climbed up Conway pass, and I reached the summit with a substantial gap between Jason and myself. I thought to myself, Jason must be longing for those lower gears in his Tacoma right about now. Then I realized I’d been spending a bit on my way up.
We followed a semi-muddy dirt road to Travertine Hot springs to find the few small pools were well occupied. Undeterred, we shifted gears and headed across the large valley to another hot spring we had earlier identified. The route to this spot was significantly longer and more technical due to some muddy switchbacks and decent ruts. We arrived at the parking area to find two other rigs. The pool below was out of sight. I dug out an old towel, changed into swim trunks, and we traversed the catwalk trail down the hillside.
About halfway down, we passed two ladies with pleasant smiles and good things to say about what lay ahead. What they did not say, however, was that the remaining lone occupant of the pool below was a bare-ass naked middle-aged dude who was starting to resemble a lobster from basting in the pool for a bit too long. As we arrived, he exited the pool to leave but took time to proudly regale us with the tale of the skinny dipping company he’d had just moments before we arrived. Then he cleaned up his beer cans. THEN put on shorts and left.
We frolicked about the spring for 20-30 minutes which was perfect. This was one of the neatest primitive springs I’ve seen or visited. Instead of a pool with water diverted, this was a rock wall stacked up in U shape formation right in the stream bed of a mountain creek just below a massive rock overhang where the super hot water cascaded off into the river pool below. The water was just 20″ deep but was a very comfortable temperature for a quick soak.
The day was getting older, and we needed to find camp. There was a more developed campground up the way, but we decided to look for something more dispersed. Heading back the way we came, I noticed a 2-track splitting off to the South. Here we found a secluded place to make camp. One of the best features of a Skinny Guy Camper is that it’s incredibly easy to deploy. Within 20 minutes of our arrival, we had both campers set up, chairs and the grill out, and a fire started. Jason worked up some wagyu hamburger patties mixed with his special recipe. We griddled them to perfection on my Weber Q grill fueled by the camper’s exterior auxiliary LP connection. Topped with a fried egg and some arugula, these were about as tasty of a burger I can remember ever having. We sat about the fire and discussed future product ideas and plans. The stars above were intensely luminous, giving us some final scenery to enjoy before bed.
The following day, we discovered that waiting until deep into Nevada to onboard fuel and LP was a wise choice. The diesel price was over $2.00 less per gallon. From here, we made our way up to Zero Declination, a specialty outfit in Reno, Nevada. These guys hadn’t had a chance to have a look at the campers and had expressed interest in possibly representing us in this part of the world. We found them to be good guys with a good pulse on the overland arena. Jason and I left, hoping they might come on board. After some spam fried rice at a local Hawaiian food truck, we stopped at REI for some “essentials” and then continued North.
We made it to Klamath Falls and decided to take a detour into Crater Lake National Park the following morning. Here we found a deep snowpack still blanketed the lake area. We climbed the snow bank to the rim and pondered whether a person would be able to stop if they started sliding. I offered to give Jason a shove so he could test it out “for science”, but he declined. So, we took a few pictures and then shot back down the way we came, linking back up with the road to Bend, a scenic route dominated by old-growth conifers.
At last, we arrived in Bend and made our way to Technique Vehicle Outfitters to meet the guys from Sycan Media and begin a new adventure.