Camping at Deadman Creek, Eastern Sierra

I just got home from a one week camping adventure near Deadman Creek, a little north of Mammoth.  Bears, hail, mountain bikes, guinness brownies, outdoor movies, and a few good books kept me busy but I am glad to be home.  I've heard it said that sometimes you need a vacation from a vacation, and after this summer I really understand what that means.

The Deadman Creek camping trip was my airstream adventure with T this summer.  We met up with some people from Aberdeen who were camping on BLM land near Deadman Creek and were joined by some people T and I camp with from the OC.

I have a few comments about this camping trip that will be coming up in my Take Away: Summer 2012 post that talk about some of the things that bummed me out about this trip but for this post I want to concentrate on some of the fun things that happened.

We met up with some friends from Aberdeen who were camping on BLM land above Lower Deadman Campground.  They were planning on staying there for a month and we came up to camp with them for a week.  You can see the airstream above nestled in the pines.  It is a very dry year so campfires and charcoal campfires were prohibited unless you were in a campground.  Lower Deadman Campground was just down the hill and we had a few campfires there.  One night we even had a Dutch Oven potluck and T and I made cornbread and chocolate-cherry cobbler with our little dutch ovens.

T was different on this trip.  Usually he is up early and ready to go, but this trip he slept in, waited until the hot part of the day to get motivated, and just wanted to fish.  He spent a lot of time fishing.  One day he left at 8am to fish the Eastern Walker river and didn't get back until 11pm.  On that day I joined some of my fellow campers and hiked to Fern Lake.
Fern Lake is above June Lake and is about a 2 mile hike in.  When ever I hike with T he always leaves me behind (he is 6'4" and I am 5'6").  Eventually I catch up to him when he stops to fish or reaches his destination, but for the most part, it is like I am hiking alone.  When our group started the hike to Fern Lake I told them I was going to start up because I was slow and they would catch me soon enough.  Ironically, I was the "fast" hiker on this trip.  Well, I am not fast but I am steady.  I ended up being the pace setter on the way up and I was kind of shocked about it.

Fern Lake was pretty, but compared to all the other lakes I have seen in the Eastern Sierra, it was the least impressive.  And it was windy up there!  The trail book said you would find 8 of the 9 trees that grow in the region on this hike and we did on the way down!  It was so amazing.  There was this section on the hike that had all these different trees right next to each other.  It must have been one hell of a micro-climate to support so many different trees.

One of my favorite things about camping with our OC camping crew is something we call "The Stumble".  The Stumble is basically progressive snacking that includes alcohol.  We started it some years ago over a camping trip.  The theme that year was martinis and each camp came up with an appetizer to pair with their martini.  We didn't call it a Stumble until after that first night because we were all stumbling back to our camp sites!  The Stumbles happen every time this group of three families camp together.  There was a year when we had 8 ocean front camp sites and so many people we had to organize them into groups so we wouldn't have too many stops!  The theme for that Stumble was margaritas because it was a Cinco-de-Mayo weekend.

We had a Stumble at Deadman and theme was beer!  We were split up into three camps with T and I going last.  The first camp was the Mo-Camp.  Mo and his family are great cooks.  He made a bruschetta with blue cheese, steak, pesto, and homegrown tomatoes.  YUM!
Our next stop was the Ballard camp.  Ballard always drinks Tecate on our camping trips and that was the beer they served.  The funny thing was that they were making egg-rolls but when he realized he had so much Tecate, he started calling them Asian chimichangas!
Our last Stumble stop was the Airstream.  Seeing as we were last we served Guinness and Guinness brownies.  They were so good.  You can get the recipe here from Bon Appetit (thanks to the Little Sister for finding it!).
Other adventures during the week included a hail storm the first day we arrived.  Re-occurring visits from a bear who kept checking to see if anyone left food out.  Outdoor movies under the stars when Mo set up a movie screen and projector on the outside of his Motorhome.  And a biking day in Mammoth that ended with me riding back to camp over some dirt biking trails on my own.

The day before we left T said was my day and we could do whatever I wanted.  We headed to Mammoth and took the Gondola to the top of the ski hill.  During the winter T skis this area but during the summer the mountain becomes a bike park.  It was incredible to see the people charging the hill.  I wonder if I will ever be good enough to try it?

We checked out a few lakes and bike trails around Lake Mary and then headed back to camp where we made pizza with the Mo's for our last dinner.

That night while people were watching the outdoor movie the bear walked by the Airstream and scared Samson and I.  Samson jumped up to look out the window with all his fur sticking up and I jumped up and started making all kinds of noise.  I eventually flashed the lights and T came over to see what was going on.

I have this bitter sweet feeling about the bear.  I feel bad for it because we were invading where it lived.  The Aberdeen folks said it was a young bear they had seen with it's mama last summer.  The bear was drawn to food and some fishermen had cleaned their fish in Deadman Creek and not cleaned up after themselves.  Of course the bear would be drawn to this food source.  Then if there was more food around he would look for it.  I had a healthy dose of fear about the bear and didn't like seeing it or knowing it was near by but was trying to find a way to co-exists with it.  T and I camped very clean so I think the bear was just walking by but if the bear continues to come up to campers and gets too close to people, he will probably be killed.  This little dose of reality bummed me out at the end of our trip.  I worried for the bear and it really made me think about camping in the Eastern Sierra.  Overall I would give the trip an 80%.  The company was great and some of the food was fantastic but it had a long way to go to earn an A.  Maybe next time.....

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