There are lots of hot springs around Bridgeport, at least two along my way: Travertine hot spring just off highway 395 and Buckeye hot spring which is a 10 miles detour over a dirt road. There is a NFS campground next to. There is no potable water, it is either bring your own or treat water from the creek. I had the options of doing a short day ride up to Buckeye hot spring, stay there overnight and do another short day to Mono Lake and into Lee Vining and maybe start climbing towards Tioga pass or rush down directly to Lee Vining in one single day (approx. 60 miles and two passes). I could not make up my mind, hence I did both.
I went to Buckeye, did not find the official campground but an apparently very popular inofficial campground. There were several cars and RVs parked, tent pitched and entire outdoor living “rooms” set up. A young party that was about to leave lent me an empty 1 gallon water container and their filter to fill it from the creek. I was all set and ready to stay there for the night.
No resort at this hot spring, it is just a hot spring that tumbles over a rock into a pool next to the creek. Nobody bans you from bringing your beer or smoke whatever marihuana you might like, medical and legal by states law or non medical and illegal. People were dressed and fairly normal: some young guys on a weekend trip and a family of PCT hikers on a day off (as normal as hiking the PCT is…). New age hippies, of course, are welcome too. The water in the creek happens to be really cold, colder than the ice water buckets at Sierra hot spring. You can do a proper Kneipp treatment. After bathing and a good lunch I felt ready to go on despite the heat. I refilled my bottles, spilled the rest of the gallon under some trees and went into Bridgeport.
A cute little town with a very good service level (Decent store, bakery, restaurants, several hotels, a library, no campground). I still felt pretty fit, so I pushed on towards Conway summit. I knew there was not a lot to come but was confident to find a camping spot. It was the weekend and I had not taken into account the American fishing mania, apart from visiting hot springs pretty much the only thing you can do around here. All lodges along the way were full. I hesitated between camping out sommewhere and going all the way to Lee Vining which I did in the end. I knew it to be a bad idea because it was still the weekend and Lee Vining is only 12 miles from Yosemite NP.
Once you passed Convay summit there is no good possibility to camp out anymore unless you like camping in the desert. I asked in a lodge at Mono Lake for possible camping spots. There was a guy sitting at the bar and he said I could camp behind Mobil and that I should go there and ask Katie about it, she would explain everything to me. She turned out to be his sister.
Mobil is the last gas station before Yosemite. It is in Lee Vining right off highway 120. The place has a store and a deli and is really busy with people going to and fro the park. There is a little lookout behind it with a phenomenal view over Mono lake. It has water, for irrigation originaly I guess, because there is green lawn. And on this lawn I pitched my tent. It was my first non-dusty campsite for days. Lots of people sleep up there in their cars when they have no accommodation in the park. The gas station has convenient opening hours and provides restrooms, food, breakfast from 6.30am.
I went to sleep with a splendid sunset over Mono lake to get up with a splendid sunrise over Mono lake.