2016 Summer Journal

JMT Honeymoon Day 5: Bishop Pass for some R&R

The alarm went off early and we woke up to a sheet of ice coating the inside of the tent. It’s always a little tough to get out of your sleeping bag when you know it’s chilly outside, but we bit the bullet and got things moving.

Immediately after leaving camp we started climbing up and out of Le Conte Canyon. This wouldn’t be our longest day on the trail, but it certainly wouldn’t be an easy one either. Bishop Pass lay several miles and several thousand feet above us.

Switchbacking out of Le Conte Canyon with the sun creeping up over the eastern horizon.

Switchbacking out of Le Conte Canyon with the sun creeping up over the eastern horizon.

While we switchbacked up and out of the canyon, the sun began to rise and blast the nearby peaks with beautiful magenta and then orange alpenglow. I could see the JMT down below snaking through the canyon and heading out toward Muir Pass. I felt a small pang of regret and sadness that we weren’t sticking to our original plan, but knew that we were making the right decision to leave. I look forward to being able to go back and complete the Muir Pass and Evolution Valley portions of the trail.

The JMT continues along the valley floor to the right before climbing up and over Muir Pass.

The JMT continues along the valley floor to the right before climbing up and over Muir Pass.

Eventually, we made our way up and over a large bench where we found ourselves in Dusy Basin. I’d heard of this area before from my Dad who used to work with the California Department of Fish and Game and spent a couple of summers making trips to places like Dusy Basin.

The climb up toward Bishop Pass was long and steep. Here we are cresting the bench into Dusy Basin.

The climb up toward Bishop Pass was long and steep. Here we are cresting the bench into Dusy Basin.

The sun was just coming up and over the peaks to our east and illuminating the basin with a perfect golden light. The brown grass and red brush glowed and the tall peaks surrounded us begged to be climbed. Alas, we had a schedule to stick to so we continued on down the trail.

Perfect morning light in Dusy Basin.

Perfect morning light in Dusy Basin.

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The sun has been up for a bit, but the frost is still hanging on tight in the shade.

The sun has been up for a bit, but the frost is still hanging on tight in the shade.

Gradually we made our way to the top of the pass. The morning had been calm until the top where a sort of wind tunnel formed and blasted us with cold mountain air. I tried to find some service and arrange a pick up from the trailhead with no luck. While I tried to call, we snacked on some crackers and admired the string of lakes below the pass. It seems that over every rise there is some new amazing beauty to see in the Sierras!

Finally at the pass! We're both feeling pretty tired and beat up at this point. Definitely forced smiles here.

Finally at the pass! We’re both feeling pretty tired and beat up at this point. Definitely forced smiles here.

Looking off the pass down toward South Lake (out of sight down the valley).

Looking off the pass down toward South Lake (out of sight down the valley).

We descended off the top of the pass and were once again impressed by the trail building work that had gone into creating such a path. I know that Bishop Pass is used often by pack trains and it’s amazing to think that those animals, all loaded with gear, can navigate such a treacherous trail day in and day out.

Down off the pass and into the basin, we started along the trail that would bring us out to the South Lake trailhead in the mountains above Bishop, CA. The trail meandered along a series of lakes, slowly losing elevation and bringing us out toward rest and recovery.

Crossing the creek near Bishop Lake, the first water source below the pass.

Crossing the creek near Bishop Lake, the first water source below the pass.

Before we knew it, we were hiking along South Lake and then at the trailhead. It’s remarkable how easy it is to access that basin below Bishop Pass only a few short miles from where you can park.

From the trailhead we were able to make a call out to our family friends who were gracious enough to come pick us up and take us the 45 minute drive up to Mammoth. Time from some relaxation, good food, and maybe a little massage before getting back on the trail!

Finally at the South Lake Trailhead. Time for a break!

Finally at the South Lake Trailhead. Time for a break!

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JMT Honeymoon Day 4: Decisions in Le Conte Canyon

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JMT Honeymoon Day 6: A Taste of Winter

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