The second destination of my trip was a chain of lakes in Bishop Creek Valley leading up to Bishop Pass, 11,972 ft, a high mountain pass west of Bishop. This area is just north of the Palisades and North Fork of Big Pine Creek, where I had spent the two previous days.
Gallery of my favorite photos
After returning from North Fork of Big Pine Creek, I picked up my next backcountry parmit at the White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop, bought more supplies, and checked into a motel. Comforts of AC and no mosquitos felt good for a change.
The next morning I drove from Bishop up to the Bishop Pass Trailhead at South Lake. At almost 9,800 ft with a view of many 13,000+ft peaks still carrying lots of snow, it was a beautiful place to start a hike. As I was readying my backpack, I had two concerns - how vicious the mosquitoes might be, and if my big toenails would hold up.
I hit the trail just as the clouds covered the sky. It was an easy walk until some ways down the trail when I hit a first snowfield on a steep uphill section. I reached Long Lake , 10,758ft, not long after that. The area was busy with dayhikers, but few ventured past the creek that required some rockhopping and the snow cover became solid on the other side. The trail along the lake seemed impassible because of the snow, flooding, and broken trees so I hiked up above the lake on its eastern side, and I found a great camp site that provided an easy access to an overlook above the lake and to the lake itself.
|Driving up 168 from Bishop||Skiing in July||South Lake Trailhead||Well-familiar sign||Snowfield||A look back down|
|Scarlet macaw||Snowy tropics||Tree broken by snow|
It was time to take it easy and I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the shoreline near my camp.
|Mt. Goode reflection||Mt. Goode||Mt. Goode reflection||Wildflowers|
|Cracked tree||Campsite||Long Lake||Mt. Goode behind Long Lake||Mt. Hurd||Sun reflection|
As the sun started going down, the mountains cast their shadows across the valley, and only the peaks continued basking in the sunshine that gradually took on warmer and warmer colors. I could not keep myself away from the mountain reflections in the lake until well after the sunset when I finally retired to my tent.
|Wavy Mt. Goode||Picture Puzzle||Long Lake|
|Picture Puzzle glow||Last light on Picture Puzzle||Sunset clouds||Long Lake at night|
It was all still around the sunrise, and a perfect time to enjoy more reflections on the lake. I headed out shortly thereafter to lakes further up the valley. Even though it was already July, the snow still froze up at this elevation overnight making for easy travel on a snowy trail ahead.
Shortly after leaving Long Lake behind, I passed Speardhead Lake Above it, the trail steepens and climbs some 300 feet on the south slopes of the valley before reaching another flat basin higher up. THe basin has several small lakes and a sizeable Saddlerock Lake at 11,128 ft. Continuing farher up, I reached Bishop lakes (around 11,240) just before the final climb to the pass starts. The southern end of the valley is dominated by Mt. Agassiz, 13,893 ft. Looking at the icy snow leading up to the pass, and the literally sore condition of my toes, I decided to turn around.
|Impressionism with a circle||BW impressionism||Sublime||Mt. Goode||Mt. Hurd||Unnamed peak and Mt. Goode|
|Unnamed lake reflection||Pink snow||Saddlerock Lake reflection||Fresh ice patterns|
|Deer||Running away||Mt. Agassiz||Wildflowers||Darth Vader||Bishop Lake and Mt. Agassiz|
|Mt.Agassiz in BW||Bubbles||Bubbles|
It started warming up and the snow softened. As I descended back down, I passed a few backpackers and hikers heading up the valley. There was plenty of beauty to share. When I reached the campsite above Lng Lake, clouds started drifting across the sky. I packed up, took some last pictures from the perch above the lake, and proceeded back to the trailhead at South Lake.
|Frozen||Bishop Pass trail||Pt. 12,689 from Saddlerock Lake||Speardhead Lake and Long Lake||Speardhead Lake and Long Lake||Tent and Hurd Peak|
|Perch above Long Lake||Long clouds at Long Lake||South Lake||Peaks above South Lake|
Driving back on Highway 395 after spending time in the Eastern Sierra always feels like a nice treat after the party. It gives me time to reflect on the adventure that just ended and relax before having to adjust to the other California on the other side of the mountains. The one filled with traffic and people. I stopped at Tenaya Lake in Yosemite to postpone my return to reality, and that was it...
|Highway 395 toward Mono Lake||Tioga Pass Road||Yosemite NP entrance||Tenaya Lake||Rock at Tenaya Lake||Rock at Tenaya Lake|
|North shores||Wildflowers||Tenaya Lake and Mt. Conness|