It was dark outside. We got up before sunrise around 5-5:30 in the morning to do some sunrise photography. We were staying just outside the national park in a motel. My husband went to keep breakfast and some other things required in the car. He came back in 5 mins and in a very clam tone said ‘there are bears near the car’ and even calmer was the reply from his brother ‘okay get in and stay here’. I was shocked and excited! What there are bears, out in the parking lot next to our car!! I had to see outside, it was dark and we could see huge animals walking across.
Eventually, we did go to our car and from our car we saw two huge bears and a baby bear at the end of the parking lot. That was close! I have no photos because we did not want to attract bear's attention from flash of the camera. There were 'caution' boards on wild bear all over the motel. The smell of food attracts bears and if they get wild they can break apart even a car. As it was early morning before sunrise they were out from the woods, near parking lot maybe in search of food.
We drove towards Mono county, the sun had still not risen and we saw wild mule deers/ coyotes (American jackal) rushing back into the woods from the main roads. During the day as we drive around none of animals are to be seen, they are hiding or deep in the woods. This was fantastic experience to see so many animals in their habitat. We stopped at Gul Lake (before sunrise), it was such a serene place.
Then we drove around Silver Lake to capture the beautiful fall colors. We patiently waited for light from the sunrise to reach out. At one place, we crossed yellow trees to go over to the lake, by the time we came back the sun had fully risen, the sun light shinning through the yellow leaves gave it a golden glow. It's one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The sunlight gave the yellow colour so much life, glow ... its hard to describe.
In all the confusion of the bear, we indeed forgot to bring the breakfast basket but the sunrise and views around, served as one of the best breakfast's I have ever had/felt, which recharged and refreshed my mind, my soul.
Later that day we went to Devils Postpile National Monument. This is an interesting place where columnar rocks, look like man made pillars plied together. But these are not man made they are naturally formed out of lava, some thousands of years before. Even the rocks fallen below seem to be cut out to some particular shape but it is naturally formed shape. This experience was - see it to believe it!
Next we took a hike down to Rainbow falls (near the devil's post pile), we went through a route where forest fire had occurred (around 20-22 years before) but the place looked burnt out of life compared to green pastures around the park. It was an unusual hike experience - the lone tree trunks looked like a vast cemetery. This just makes you realize how difficult it is to bring back life after a disaster, natural or man-made.
The rainbow falls itself was refreshing after the hike. There are many view points from where one can see the falls from different heights. There are many visitors who hike but there are patches on the trail when there is no one and caution sign boards keep reminding you that this a wild habitat. Encounter with wild animals - bears, coyotes is likely. So walk with caution and awareness of the surroundings.
We then drove to elevated view point Minaret Summit in Inyo National forest which is at 9,265 ft. The surrounding views were worth the drive from this view point. After sunset though it got cold and we had to head back.