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The Perfect Travel Sweater While Adventuring the Eastern Sierras

The top 3 places to visit in the Eastern Sierras during summer and fall.
September 7, 2023
By Lia Klinchik

Living On The Road: The Cardigan I Always Pack

Introducing the 2nd part of my 3-part blog series about the best ways to enjoy the Sierra Nevada, packing for summer road trips, and sustainability throughout your travels.

This blog is about how to experience the Eastern Sierras to the fullest through road-tripping Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, and Bishop, California.

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It’s no secret that the Northern half of California holds some of the most beautiful destinations in the country.

Striking mountains and vast desert characterize the Eastern side of California, darling coastal cities greet you to the West, and somewhere in the middle are lakes, rivers, and sprawling foothills to explore.

I traveled the Eastern Sierras with my Summer Cardigans for a week, indulging in these bodies of water and exploring the quaint mountain towns they offer.

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Visit The Eastern Sierras During Late Summer And Early Fall

With much of the tourist activity fizzling out by late summer, the Eastern Sierras become quieter during the in-between time. Days are still long enough to enjoy, and during the day, it’s still warm enough to swim.

When visiting a place like Mammoth Lakes, this town is at a higher elevation, meaning the temperature will be cooler. You’ll want to bring your wool sweater!

Later in the season, it provides more comfortable temperatures in the valley around the Bishop area. Depending on the year’s snowpack, you might still catch some wildflowers around late August, or perhaps the Aspens will turn beautifully golden.

Still, regardless, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the crystal clear water and the sea of Sagebrush along the way. Try to look for the magic in this desert region.

Enjoying The View My My Cardigan - Oliver Charles.jpg__PID:32cff7ac-af93-4a7a-97c8-a58f902d1333

Take The 395 Drom Tahoe South Or Big Pine North

There are two possible ways you can take this road trip. One begins in the North. If you’re coming from San Francisco or Sacramento, you’ll likely take the I80 through The Emeralds and Donner Summit.

This will land you in the North Lake Tahoe region around Truckee, CA, then taking the 395, you’ll go south through East Lake Tahoe or Reno and down the Walker River (with spectacular stopping opportunities) into Lee Vining.

Alternatively, if you’re coming from Los Angeles or Joshua Tree, you can take another route that will bring you north. You’ll follow the 395 up through Lone Pine (which is near the base of Mt. Whitney- the tallest peak in the mainland United States and the Sierra Nevada), then to Big Pine, which is where the entrance to the Bristlecone Pine Forest lies. Regardless of the way you choose, each drive has its own charm with several brake worthy, spectacular views.

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Hike, Climb, And Dine By The River In Truckee California

Truckee, California, sits in North Lake Tahoe between Sacramento and Reno. Away from the chaos of the towns that border Lake Tahoe, Truckee has its own spirit and livelihood. If you’re looking for a destination to camp, swim in lakes, float rivers, jump in turquoise water holes, and dine, then this is your place.

Walk downtown Truckee, explore the coffee shops and restaurants, spend your afternoon floating on the Truckee River, and camp peacefully in one of the Forest Service campgrounds. You can rent a mountain bike or paddleboard at one of the local gear shops or take a trip to nearby Donner to hike or rock climb.

This area is technically on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas (Donner Summit being the high point before you drop down). And not too far to your East is the Great Basin Desert.

Temperatures will be chilly in the shade and at night, so I recommend bringing your lightweight SeaCell sweater for casual cruising.

I paired my Summer Cardigan with jeans and a tank top to wander through Truckee. The cardigan fits my small wardrobe, delicate yet strong enough to keep me pleasantly warm in the breeze.

In the evening, swap your cardigan for the Oliver Charles yak wool sweater for extra warmth among the many Jeffery Pines to make smores in luxury.

My Cardigan Featuring The Crystal Clear Water - Oliver Charles.jpg__PID:acaf931a-7a17-48a5-8f90-2d1333a31b04

Jump In A Clear Alpine Lake In Mammoth, California

Mammoth Lakes is a glacially carved basin nestled on the Eastern side of the Sierras. With hot springs further to the East, Mammoth Lakes is named for exactly what lies in the basin: many snowmelt-fed alpine lakes in colors from deep blue to turquoise. And in the distance to your West are the towering, razor-blade-edged granite peaks.

You can park and go to some of these lakes, and you may hike a mile or two to visit. Either way, it’s a great way to experience the area.

Mammoth Lakes is a prominent ski town and a summer haven for anyone too hot in the valley. Downtown Mammoth has plenty of restaurants, shops, and breweries to stop by.

This town sits at a higher altitude, around 7,000 to 8,000 feet, reaching up to 9500 feet at some lakes. Dawn and dusk are quite cold, and if you step out to hike in the evening, you’ll certainly want to dress accordingly (or at least be prepared!).

I usually wear my Summer Cardigan or keep it in my pack for day hikes, and as extra layers, bring my Oliver Charles yak wool sweater down puffy.

If you’ll hike to Heart Lake, which sits at about 9500 feet

Weekends are generally busy in Mammoth, but you'll be all alright if you get out early or in the evening.

I suggest wearing leggings or long pants up to the lake along with your Summer Cardigan.

If you’ll hang around Lake George

There’s public parking and a short walk to the lake, where you can swim, paddleboard, or just enjoy the water.

I wore my Summer Cardigan to protect me from the overbearing sun and keep me comfortable with the wind. Keep your extras in the car!

Remember to leave the place better than you found it, pack out trash, and be mindful of the surrounding flora and wildlife.

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Walk Through An Ancient Forest Outside Of Bishop, California

In an isolated section of the White Mountains, thousands of year-old trees gather over crushed white blocks, almost wholly lacking other vegetation.

Take the long and winding drive through Pinyon Juniper woodlands around slopes of sagebrush-covered hillsides and other wildflowers.

The Schulman Grove Visitor Center is a great place to park and stop for multiple trails.

There are plenty of places to learn more about this area, the trees, and how they survive in such a harsh environment.

Bristlecones grow where most trees can’t, contributing to their ability to live here due to less competition. They have evolved to withstand extreme cold and strong winds (causing the gnarling of their bodies and branches)!

I walked 8 miles through the Methuselah Grove. I brought my overalls, Birkenstocks, binoculars, and Oliver Charles Summer Cardigan.

The walk is steep at times and at elevation (9,000 to 10,000 feet). Generally, the trail is moderate and has thoughtfully placed benches for resting and snacks. Bring enough water. Things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re hiking through here:

  • You’re hiking at elevation, so the weather can be much cooler than where you came from in the valley- sometimes a whole 20 degrees cooler. Just because it’s colder (and you’ll need a wool sweater!) doesn’t mean the sun doesn’t have the same effects as when it’s hot.
  • You’re higher up, which means the sun can be even stronger, so make sure to wear the SeaCell Summer Cardigan and some sunscreen as protection. What I liked about the sweater on my hike was that it kept me warm and light enough to breathe. I feel like that sentiment goes for all Oliver Charles clothing.

If you will be hiking here, please remember not to take anything!

Lia Klinchik is a freelance blogger and Clinical Herbalist, focusing on our relationship to nature and sustainability. Through her writing, she hopes to help people truly enjoy life and leave a positive impact on the planet.

If you believe that every good wardrobe starts with owning less and owning better, consider buying yourself an OLIVER CHARLES sweater.
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