Red Alert!

JUNE LAKE, Calif. — We’ve followed breadcrumbs into the woods, getting a little lost in the Eastern Sierra, tripping over fallen pines, searching for woodsmoke and hard cider.

October is my morphine. Like Thoreau, I’d rather sit on a pumpkin than the finest throne.

And the most beautiful costume ever? These mountains surrounding the alpine village of June Lake, which wears aspen like an Oscar gown. The cottonwoods are turning too, as waterfalls spill near Carson Peak.

The days are sunny, the nights are cold, perfect for triggering the pigments in the leaves.

Good God, this is spectacular country. We are up here recovering from a minor book tour of Los Angeles and the weather is – how you say? – perfect.

They say another difficult winter is about to move in from the north. In six weeks, this region will be the North Pole again. Forget El Nino. All you need to see are the stacks of firewood along the porches.

Till then, the Eastern Sierra is the most-golden Californian of them all. It’s my tickle spot.

Wait, is that a red maple? What’s a red maple doing up here?

Suzanne and I have camped at a little resort the name of which will remain a secret except to family and a few close friends (the Double Eagle Resort).

Modern well-kept cabins ring a trout pond you can fish in. In the lobby, they set out warm cookies every afternoon.

Reminds me of Mom, this place.

I could easily roost here through Thanksgiving, as the first snows lick the mountaintops and the edges of the lakes begin to crunch.

They serve a Thanksgiving dinner here that would make a pilgrim blush. There’s also a well-regarded national park (Yosemite) about 12 miles up the road, and a ski resort (June) within walking distance.

What else ya need?

A fireplace? Check. A splash of Bailey’s in your coffee? Double-check.

Or, bring a tent and plop it on the edge of Silver Lake, watch the world quiver – the trees, the lake, the anglers trying for one last rainbow trout.

Write a poem. Or don’t write a poem. But I guarantee you’ll take a billion photos. And the images of this place at dusk will be your mental screensaver for weeks to come.

The Double Eagle is an extraordinary resort – not cheap, but the same you’ll pay at far more-forgettable places in Mammoth Lakes.

We share a wonderful weekend here, full of dark hints and pregnant suggestions, as per Pinter.

Damn, wish I’d brought White Fang to frolic in the chill.

Wish Suzanne would brush my hair.

Wish October lasted 90 days.

Wish those deer we saw in the meadow would make an encore appearance.

Really wish I owned this place.

Till then, it owns me.

The Wall Street Journal says: “Mr. Searles knew that his work would involve managing people more than bears. … It all makes for a strenuous life, a rollicking memoir, and a fulsome sense of gratitude.”

Steve’s memoir “What the Bears Know” sold out in three days. Thanks to everyone – from our literary agent Susan Canavan, to our publisher Pegasus Books, to all of you who snapped up copies, many as Christmas gifts. The book is about more than bears, though that would be enough. And it contains wonderful photos and the mountain-man sentiments of Steve Searles, whose connection to nature rivals Thoreau himself. Copies are still available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. {Pages} in Manhattan Beach has signed copies it will ship to you. Thanks to all.  

11 thoughts on “Red Alert!

  1. The beautiful Eastern Sierra, we just visited in late August. The trout fishing always brings us back. You are right Chris, it’s a little piece of heaven here on earth.

  2. We own a cabin just across the road from Double Eagle. When we are up there we walk over for breakfast or dinner sometimes. Next time you go head to Silver Lake Resort for breakfast (if they are open). You have to get there early or there is a wait. And the brownies at the Epic Cafe in June Lake are AMAZING ( caramel and chocolate to die for!) They aren’t open every day so you have to hit it right. It is truly God’s country up there.

  3. What a GORGEOUS picture that opened the column and the story made me wish I were there! (The remainder of the fotos are beautiful, too.)

  4. I’ve fly-fished the pond and the creek running down from it and under the highway into the Owens. The real fishing is in the Owens near Arcularus, and downstream at Hot Creek. There are some large Browns in those waters; or used to be. I first heard Four Non Blondes do “What’s Up” on the jukebox of the noisy June Lake Cafe, and have spent some great good times in Hot Creek near the hot water chimney in its bottom (now fenced), passing a bota bag around the circle as the creek flowed swiftly over and around me and the sun went down. A bathing suit was optional, leading to some spectacular hand stands in the creek as the wine flowed ever more freely. I once saw this on the wall of the john in the Hot Creek parking lot, “Here, on Summer nights, the wolves shine and the moon howls”. Over the years, I came to believe it, both Summer and Winter(after a day of skiing at Mammoth.). This is stunningly beautiful country,, as were many people who lived here or were drawn here. There was a love of people and place here beyond telling.

  5. What I wouldn’t give to be in June Lake in October again! I love those crisp, sunny days and a fireplace at the foot of the bed shared with my honey. With the magic of October in the Sierras, we traded hearts forty-some years ago. Every autumn, I fall in love with him all over again. Til we meet again, m’dear…

Leave a Reply