It was high time to hitch the trailer up to the new 4Runner and go on a four day adventure!
Once I made it to Bishop I headed west and noted the dark clouds rolling in. I hoped to make good time without any incidents on the long off-road drive to my camp site.
From the gentle sandy road you'll ascend some initially narrow, steep and sometimes rough switchbacks. I've highlighted the trail's path with the red lines.
After those switchbacks the trail winds across open areas, steep canyons and shelf roads that have amazing terrain and great views.
The traverse requires navigating short up-and-downs as the trail gains elevation overall.
There was also a pretty cool canyon lined by steep arrays of sometimes precariously perched boulders anticipating a good ground tremor.
With a lot of the hill climbs behind me I would break out into open areas with broad vistas of open sky and mighty mountains.
So far the trailer was handling well and the new Falken WildPeak AT3W tires on the 4Runner were very surefooted across the varied terrain.
After passing through a mild water crossing, a short hill climb revealed my first view of the broad Coyote Flats framed by the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Soon I was cruising the easiest road of the Flats as I homed in on the final and roughest traverse into my camp site.
Before too long I was navigating a jarring path that was more rocks than a dirt road.
At times it was closely hemmed in by trees.
As always, the trailer nimbly followed the lead of the 4Runner's twists and turns through the narrow path.
I found a great spot by a small body of water and set up quickly as it was getting late with cold winds and dark clouds gathering quickly overhead.
Next thing I knew I was getting light snow!! So magical!
I was pretty happy that I had replaced the old and worn rain fly of the RTT with a new and better design from a Mombasa tent. The snow tended to pile up on top and a few times in the night I smacked the tent ceiling to slide the snow off.
The next day the snow melted out pretty quickly, leaving behind the older drifts that tenaciously resisted the warm rays of sunlight passing across the clear blue skies.
It was time to get out an explore a bit on foot. I was hoping that Funnel Lake and Rocky Bottom Lake had a decent water level from infrequent rains but steady snow melt.
Sure enough, Funnel Lake looked great! Funny thing was that the little snow storm seemed to have chased off the three groups that were camped there the first day.
Hiking over to Rocky Bottom was a fun rock hopping dance, especially with the tantalizing sound of falling water up ahead.
Besides walking slowly to avoid injuries it also paid off when admiring small clusters of hardy alpine flowers which were opening up their tiny buds to the rays of the sun.
Taking longer than I thought it would to scramble across the rock field I made it to a resplendent Rocky Bottom Lake, fed by a small waterfall of snow melt on the far side.
I took my time ambling back to camp as it was time to prepare dinner and enjoy the setting of the sun.
The next morning was bright and clear and offered great reflections on my little pond. Later in the day I planned to hike up into the bowl-shaped area to the left of the center peak.
When I finally had to head back I was able to make a beeline downhill and enjoy a different view of my camp across the water.
Soon another day was coming to a close and I started prepping for my exit the next morning. I got up early and finished boxing up the gear and stowing the tent. Breakfast was a simple fare of yogurt and soon I reluctantly started the return sojourn across Coyote Flats.
It was pretty smooth going, almost too good to be true. At some point I lost a bolt on the rear swaybar end link.
I searched through my spares and found nothing that might get me by so I decided to drive slower and ignore the issue as I didn't expect anything to break.
So I proceeded onward until a new noise reared its ugly snout.
It seems I became complacent and rammed the right rear tire's sidewall into something sharp. Dang, a brand new tire reduced to scrap! Maybe I can practice patching the sidewall on it when I get home. Hmmm....
Well, for all of the times I had changed flat tires I never had pictures. I broke out the tripod and set up the camera to catch some action photos.
First thing was to unhitch the trailer and lighten the weight on the rear tires.That also made it easier to bring out the full sized spare from underneath the 4Runner.
Pretty soon it was all back together and I conducted a final walk around to ensure I hadn't left anything hanging loose or on the ground.
Since it was a Tuesday I didn't have to worry about blocking the trail for other travelers. I had only been there about 45 minutes and was soon heading down to Bishop and the long drive home.
Thanks to all of my visitors from around the world! I hope you enjoyed this new adventure and that you are also having some of your own. Until the next time please stay safe and let us know if you post up your stories somewhere so I can link to them.