Upper Virginia Lake

This lake is part of a basin of lakes found in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is accessed by turning off Highway 395 at Conway Summit about halfway between Bridgeport and Lee Vining. There are two lakes within the basin, the Little or Lower Virginia Lake and this one which is also referred to as the Big Virginia Lake. We photographed here several times last spring and then again this fall.

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 The lake is popular with anglers, hikers and campers. There is a trailhead near the lake that serves as one of several gateways into Yosemite National Park and other great hikes in the Sierra Nevada, including the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails.

The lake is popular with anglers, hikers and campers. There is a trailhead near the lake that serves as one of several gateways into Yosemite National Park and other great hikes in the Sierra Nevada, including the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails.

 Located in the Virginia Lakes area are a resort, [2]  pack station, [3]  and small community. Virginia Lakes is popular with anglers, hikers, and campers. A trail beginning at Virginia Lakes serves as a gateway to the Sierra backcountry and  Yosemite National Park . [4]

Located in the Virginia Lakes area are a resort,[2] pack station,[3] and small community. Virginia Lakes is popular with anglers, hikers, and campers. A trail beginning at Virginia Lakes serves as a gateway to the Sierra backcountry and Yosemite National Park.[4]

 This is the Virginia Creek which flows through a number of lakes in the basin, including both Virginia Lakes, Turnbull, Red, Blue, Cooney, Moat and Frog Lakes.

This is the Virginia Creek which flows through a number of lakes in the basin, including both Virginia Lakes, Turnbull, Red, Blue, Cooney, Moat and Frog Lakes.

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 We returned to Virginia Lake this fall when the view from the Highway suggested that fall color was developing.

We returned to Virginia Lake this fall when the view from the Highway suggested that fall color was developing.

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 Ah so!! This lake is so clear! Fall is here!

Ah so!! This lake is so clear! Fall is here!

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 Fall color here is due more to shrubs on the mountainside than any groves of aspen. That was OK with us. It is still a beautiful lake.

Fall color here is due more to shrubs on the mountainside than any groves of aspen. That was OK with us. It is still a beautiful lake.

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Devil's Postpile

Devil’s Postpile sits along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. It is a small national monument, as they go, with just 800 acres set aside to preserve a columnar basalt formation that was begun about 82,000 years ago. It all started with a volcanic event. This particular lava flow was ideally suited for columnar formation as it was thick, had a consistent mineral composition and cooled slowly and evenly. As the lava cooled, it contracted and split into symmetrical, vertical, hexagonal columns.

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Somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago, a glacier flowed down what is now called the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. It rode over the fractured lava formation and carved away one side of the postpone, revealing columns 60 feet high.

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 Over time, erosion and earthquakes broke off some of the columns that now lie fragmented below the postpile.

Over time, erosion and earthquakes broke off some of the columns that now lie fragmented below the postpile.

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 Here the columns become horizontal! This is seen on the backside of the pile and on the way to the top.

Here the columns become horizontal! This is seen on the backside of the pile and on the way to the top.

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 There are no guardrails up here! Kids running around made me nervous as it was a looooong way down to a pile of rocks.

There are no guardrails up here! Kids running around made me nervous as it was a looooong way down to a pile of rocks.

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 Part of the 0.8 mile loop hike around the postpile.

Part of the 0.8 mile loop hike around the postpile.

 The meadow where the San Joaquin River runs. Not much water there now but I suspect it is much more interesting in the spring.

The meadow where the San Joaquin River runs. Not much water there now but I suspect it is much more interesting in the spring.

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The road into this National Monument is very narrow and windy, sometimes down to just one lane. During the heavy tourist season, people wanting to visit the Devil’s Postpile must take a shuttle from the ski area of Mammoth Lakes. In the fall, cars are allowed to drive in . . . but it can be a bit scary! This site is close to Rainbow Falls but we were not prepared to hike the relatively short distance to the falls, our feelings made better by the Ranger telling us there was not much water coming down!

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is actually the name of the town or village that sits at the bottom, or in the valley, below some awesome mountains. It is a popular year round recreational resort with excellent skiing in the winter and tons of trails to hike, lakes to fish and pull-outs for photographers to gaze in awe. Each of the lakes is quite different and we each had our favorites.

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 We drove to a lookout point where the Minarets could be seen across the valley.  They are an impressive sight and often visible from Highway 395 as we drive bak and forth between photo-opportunities.

We drove to a lookout point where the Minarets could be seen across the valley. They are an impressive sight and often visible from Highway 395 as we drive bak and forth between photo-opportunities.

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 Nope.  You are correct!  This is not from Mammoth Lakes.  Diane took this at a different date than the ones I posted of Convict Lake earlier.  But, I do not want you to miss out on her excellent photography!  She was using a new to her Nikon D810 with a new lens and she was quite the trooper figuring it all out and then captured the full magnificence of sunrise on this popular mountain.  I just love her reflection.

Nope. You are correct! This is not from Mammoth Lakes. Diane took this at a different date than the ones I posted of Convict Lake earlier. But, I do not want you to miss out on her excellent photography! She was using a new to her Nikon D810 with a new lens and she was quite the trooper figuring it all out and then captured the full magnificence of sunrise on this popular mountain. I just love her reflection.