Visiting Twin Lakes and Bridgeport Valley
Twin Lakes has been a favorite place for our family since the late 1950s. The Lower and Upper Lakes have a distinct view of ‘The Crags’, and the paved road from Bridgeport, California and U.S. Highway 395 is just a 13 mile drive. Early fall is the perfect time to experience the Eastern Sierra High Country, and our trip during the first week of October provided the weather and temperature shifts you can expect. In the ‘sixties, we would shut down the folks’ cabin (between the lakes) and drain the pipes around November 1st, any later flirted with severe weather and hard freezing.
One November we came home through Walker Canyon alongside the West Walker River in a blizzard. No plows running, we were the only vehicle on the highway, pushing snow with the front axle of the ’64 CJ-5 Jeep® and aligning between the highway side markers to stay on the roadway. This happened one other time on Carson Pass (Highway 88) in the winter of 1975-76 when the CHP closed the road at Hope Valley with a few of us already on the pass and no plows working in the white out. I had a ’70 Chevrolet K10 SWB 4×4 and made it to Jackson without trouble. I learned early how Sierra blizzards come up quickly, often severely and without visibility.
The Bridgeport Valley is noted for cattle ranches that date to the 19th Century, notably the Hunewill Ranch adjacent to Twin Lakes Road. Weather the first week of October was blustery with the threat of light snow and overnight freezing. Campers, RVs and trailers need a good heating system and insulation. The Twin Lakes Resort (lower end of Lower Twin) and Mono Village (upper end of the Upper Twin) usually stay open through October. The elevation is 7,000 feet, and Eastern Sierra peaks rise over 10,000 feet. Hiking or any back country travel should take weather conditions into account. The good news is light traffic and quiet campgrounds after Labor Day.
We parked our 30′ Holiday Rambler travel trailer at Twin Lakes Resort and enjoyed the company of the many does that spend daytime on the large lawn. This gal (left) was friendly and curious, too. She walked up within three feet for this photo (left). Bucks were nowhere to be seen, but that’s not surprising, this was the traditional fall hunting season.
Fishing success at Twin Lakes is legendary. Opening of the California fishing season in April generally produces large trout at Crowley and Twin Lakes, and the record size fish for the Sierra come from these lakes. At the (Mono) Village Cafe, trophy size fish look down on the patrons. Fish this size may be rare, but fishing is always productive. This includes shoreline casting or boats that can be launched at Twin Lakes Resort (Lower Lake) or (Mono) Village boat ramp shown at right. Fly fishing at nearby Robinson Creek, Buckeye Creek or either of the Walker River branches is well known. Bridgeport Reservoir produces sizable trout primarily from boats.
The background above the boat rental and fish cleaning building at Mono Village is the majestic Crags, somewhat obscured in the clouds of a passing storm. In our 36 hours at Twin Lakes, we experienced summer-like daytime weather the first day, which turned overnight to a wintry chill with ice and spitting snow. At right is the contemporary garbage truck at Mono Village. The Mono Village garbage truck that I drove throughout the summer of 1966 was a hefty ’49 Chevrolet flatbed with sideboards, a two-speed rear axle, four-speed 420 Muncie main box and a lift for the bed. We picked up trash throughout the campgrounds and hoisted the boat house’s large drums of fish entrails over those wooden sideboards. The sea gulls at the local dumpsite looked forward to our loads!