ExploreDesert: 4th of July in the Eastern Sierra's


It was roughly a month before this trip began that it was in the talks with Candace, Ashley, Bravo and I. Some vague plans and ideas were in place but other then that it was going to be a “play it by year” kind of trip, which is sort of unheard of from my personal strategy. Usually everything is planned from the sights to see, places to eat, fuel stops, camp spots, backup routes and all the random stuff in-between. Oddly enough, I was content with just going with the flow.

During that time of rough plans, we were able to do a couple trips with the superduty and the camper shell setup. While it worked great for a night or two, this adventure was going to span 6 days and the shell wasn’t going to cut it. Storage, sleeping, space and getting out of elements were all extremely limited in the function department which lead way into finally pursuing something I’ve wanted for a long time – a truck camper.

Meet Skampy – a 1990 Skamper 080s. Complete with it’s fair share of dents, scratches, problems and period correct styling. Despite being older and fairly used, it’s solid and is the perfect test bed for longer term goals. Even more perfect for the rapidly approaching 6 day trip…

Of course after spending time looking it over and opening pandora’s box on why the roof was funky in a couple spots it was already under the knife. To top it off it was just 4 days before our departure that it was apparent the roof would have to come off to repair the torsion lift system. Thankfully with the help of Candace and my Cousins we were able to pull off repairing all the dry-rotted inner structure in less than 24 hours.

By the next morning the roof was ready to go back on with the rotten sections replaced. With a limited time schedule, fixing the cosmetics along the roof had to wait but at least it was now structurally sound. Over the next couple days Candace and I did a deep clean, replaced hardware, painted back splash and threw down some new flooring for a more updated feel. Candace finished up making it feel homey while I finished up some last minute mechanical details, fixing electrical and installing a new power inverter.

We got it good enough for our first trip with it although there is quite a bit more we’d still like to do in the future. But that’ll have to wait since we were out of time and literally down to the wire. It seems like the moment we were done, it was time to leave.

Candace got off work a little earlier on Tuesday and eager to get out of town we shot up the 15 towards hwy 395. Quick stop at Outpost Cafe for dinner and to plan out where to stay the night. Full from our meals and excited to spend our first night in the camper we got on our way.

Destination would be the rock buttes near Kramer Junction – a spot I’ve stayed at a few times before. Once off the 395 it was apparent that ol’ Skampy wasn’t suited for the fast-paced off road life(not that the SuperDuty is a race truck, but still). Some adjustments in driving style, rocking camper, one of the hold downs disconnecting, ratchets coming loose and cabinet doors flying open spilling their contents we finally made it to camp. Whew.

We stared at the star filled sky as long as possible before tiredness and relentless wind started to win their respective battles. Crawling into Skampy was a nice confirmation that the work and money was worth it. Signs of the surprisingly chilly temperature and the gusts of air were both non-existent inside. A nice change from the RTT and camper shell setup.



That morning we were to meet with Bravo & Ashley in Kramer Junction to make the journey up the 395 together. Having a bit of time before needing to leave allowed for some wandering and even a bit of shooting which I haven’t been able to do for a while. An activity which is unfortunately popular in this area, various items used for target practice sprinkle the area littering the desert floor. I got some time in shooting a small propane bottle before picking it up as well as my old shells.

Latched and loaded we began our journey to Kramer Junction. I decided on another route I had mapped to see how it would compare to the previous trips. Instead of heading directly towards 395, I’d head south-east towards Lockhart and the Abengoa Mojave Solar Project. All would have worked out great except for missing a turn and ending up in a series of small super soft washes running parallel to where I actually wanted to be.

Nothing makes your heart beat faster than having a turbo diesel spinning RPM’s in 4-low hardly creeping along on the verge of sinking. Thankfully it’s a SuperDuty and not just some regular heavy duty truck.

Thankful to be out of that situation I had to get out to take a breather and regroup. What a fun way to start a trip!

Looking back on the Buttes​

Back on hard ground we made quick work getting to hwy 58 towards Kramer. Meet up with Bravo and Ashley, fueled up and began the journey north.

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The brown desertscape eventually gives way to snow capped mountains and an abundance of green making for a rad drive. Killer lunch at Copper Top BBQ and another top-off of fuel and we’d make a straight shot to the Buckeye Hot Springs up near Bridgeport, CA.

Off the 395 we head towards the springs, dirt roads and more epic views.

Bravo and Ashley were able to find us a prime spot even though the area was already packed with visitors. Just south of the hot spring, after setting up camp we were able to find a path through across the river to gain access.

Although it was already busy for a holiday week/weekend, we were fortunate enough to enjoy an hour or so and have a tub to ourselves. Having a snow-melt fed river rushing past a 90+ degree natural hot spring is mucho bitchin’.

After heading back to our camp it was time to enjoy a nice dinner, a few beverages and capture the stars before calling it a night.


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Morning time called for hot coffee and a small breakfast before hitting the road.

It was 4th of July day and the plan was to make it back down to June Lake where the girls could float on a giant mythical creature for a few hours before trying to find a spot to watch the fireworks.

Quick stop at the Travertine Hot Springs to check it out. Definitely more of a touristy type destination, it was already alive with people at the various tubs. Being a holiday and easy access it was of no surprise.

Travertine Hot Springs scattered throughout the left side of the picture.​

Managed to find a place to park right off the road that had a small trail to access the lake. After putting Bravo’s air compressor to the test filling the mega sized unicorn we made our way down.



One of the items we talked about while hanging out at the lake was where we’d stay that night and if any of us were truly that interested in purposely going somewhere to view the fireworks that night. Ideas were brought up and different possibilities were all considered. For the most part, non of us were that concerned with fireworks, especially having to be stuck among the crowd and just finding a nice place to camp was the priority.

Not realizing where exactly the firework show would take place, I did a bit of research on the spot and to my surprise it was located at Lake Crowley. For whatever reason I assumed it would be somewhere within Mammoth. Upon discovery of the location, a few camp spots popped into mind that I had mapped out for our Eastern Sierra trip we did a couple years back that just may provide a view of the show down below.

After our time at June Lake, we headed to the June Lake Brewery and the Ohanas 395 food truck for a solid mid-day meal. From there we would head south to Benton Crossing Rd to began the journey to the nights camp.

A little deeper into the off road portion, the trail had seemed to disappear in section by overgrowth from lack of travel. There was a route marker earlier on and it was marked as a designated trail according to all the maps I cross referenced so we carefully carried on. In many areas, the large bushes, tree branches and hidden rocks dragged along the vehicles paint, camper roof and put the tires through a non-stop puncture test.

Finally, we came to the destination and realized the juice was worth the squeeze.

We took a few minutes to scope and feel out the spot. The area was decently flat with enough room for the two vehicles, solid fire ring and a view that was about as perfect as you’d want. Even with that being said, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to see enough of the southern portion of the lake to view the fireworks. A couple other spots were nearby so Bravo and I took off in his Tacoma to scope them out while the girls hung out with the superduty. In the end, we decided the views weren’t any better and headed back to get camp setup.



As the sun set we got setup on a rocky outcropping to hopefully view the fireworks. We weren’t expecting much as we couldn’t see South Landing and we’re hoping at best to maybe see them pop above the treeline in front of us, see a glow or possibly hear them in the distance.

Even if nothing would be visible, it didn’t really matter as the panoramic view was hard to turn away from.

It was about dark and right on time when we were surprised and greeted by the first firework. Apparently they do the show from a large boat or barge which couldn’t have worked in our favor any more. Our very own 4th of July firework show with a epic backdrop.

Didn’t stay up much longer after the fireworks before making our way to bed. Another day awaits.



What lake is that you are camped above? Great pics
Lake Crowley

Great report, thanks for sharing.

Thanks for bringing us along. What year is your superduty?
No problem, thanks for reading.

It's a 2006 F350 with the 6 ohhhhhhh.

Awesome. Heading up that way in October. Took some notes, thanks!
Sweet, enjoy!!!

Good stuff.
Very good stuff.
Haha thanks.

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The “plans” for the day were to make our way back into Mammoth to grab breakfast and do a bit of hiking, then try and find a campsite near one of the hot springs.
Time to leave one of the radest campsites behind…

Our choice for breakfast was Basecamp, but unfortunately they were cash only that morning for whatever reason. What felt like a marathon to find cash-back or an ATM, breakfast was eventually served and well worth the efforts. Afterwards, we drove to the Duck Lake trailhead but no parking pushed up towards Horseshoe Lake where we made the hike to see McCloud Lake, Twin Falls and the surrounding area.



Back to the vehicles, a well deserved beer and food was in order. Ended up at Mammoth Brewing Company where the wait was long, but the reward was once again worth it. Ended up getting a later start on trying to find a spot near the springs so we knew options were going to be limited. We pressed on and made our way to see what was available on a holiday weekend.

Unfortunately all the springs and camping spots were packed. Pulling up my maps, we headed north in search of a decent spot to stay the night but everything I had marked was occupied. This pushed us out into territory that I haven’t worked on yet which resulted in not finding a camp until well into the night.

Since Bravo and Ashley had to leave first thing in the morning (bummer!),we quickly packed up camp and made the journey to the 395 so we could say our farewells. Sure is hard to split ways with great friends on a rad adventure. They went their way and we went ours – and then their was one…

Candace and I didn’t have any plans for the day and were up in the air on what to do. Hungry and still trying to wake up, drove back into Mammoth and had breakfast at Toomy’s where we decided to go on another hike since we had such a great time the day before. Sherwin Lakes would be our destination this time around.