After having sent away our bear canisters, we marched onward towards Hot Creek where we passed hundreds of cars going into and out of some cross country motocross event.
Hot Creek Canyon was a fisherman's paradise.
The Hot Creek thermal features were however strictly out of bounds.
Shepard Hot Spring was not only at the perfect temperature, but it had perfect views as well.
Crab Cooker Hot Spring was luke warm and uninviting. However, Pulky's Hilltop Hot Spring was a total winner and we had the entire pool to ourselves as the sun begin to rise into our steam filled eyes.
Not only were there no people, there was lots of wildlife. White Pelicans soaked as well in the Valley of Steam, whereas the Mallard Ducks quacked above us at the source of this magic elixir.
Killdeer and other shorebirds flew above us while deer grazed in our presence. Yellow headed cowbirds and red winged blackbirds filled the air with their own sense of music.
Our next stop was Wild Willy's Hot Springs with its two pools to soak in.
There were many cars and localized teens hanging about near their tents in this oasis.
In Mammoth Lakes we bought ourselves some new running shoes to hike in. Unfortunately we had to muddy them up some between Wild Willy's and the Owens River where fisherman were once again at play. Birds were nesting and foraging in these water seeping slopes by the thousands.
We noticed a campground up north next to the river which ended up having a little store. Not only did I get a coffee fix, we picked up some water to last us a supposed 19 miles.
Gratefully, at the end of the dirt roads five and half miles up from Owens River, just before our cross country jaunt, there was plenty of water coming down the mountain within the shade of a beautiful aspen grove. Interestingly, as we bushwhacked up the mountain, we often would find Zoner's fresh shoe prints. We had the pattern of his shoe memorized. I always knew when Zoner bought new shoes after he went into a town to resupply.
In the distance we could see Montgomery and Boundary Peaks on the Nevada border. Zoner calls it XXC instead of XC. From here it looked like an XXXC rating to us. We opted to take the alternate route without really knowing what we were getting ourselves into. If you end up hiking up to the top of Montgomery... I look forward to your bushwhack report.