Bishop Creek Lodge - Eastern Sierra Nevada, September 2018
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|long detour from rt. 395, due to fires|
This year the hiking group's fall trip into the Sierra Nevada took us to Bishop Creek Lodge & Resort, on the eastern slopes, up around 9,000 ft. The road to the Resort comes off main street or Highway 395 in Bishop, Ca.
Most of us stayed in cabins while one couple camped nearby. Ten of us were there for four nights, and late arrival Patrick & Victoria, who came out from Pittsburgh, Pa., with their 15 month old daughter, Elise, stayed for three nights. They missed hike one but on walks two and three, there were 12 hikers & one rider.
Hike one - South Lake (9,768 ft.) to Treasure Lakes (about 10,700 ft.)
Our initial walk began at South Lake, only a short uphill drive from the Lodge. Our destination today was Treasure Lakes, 5.6 miles round trip with 1,680 ft. of gain/loss. About 8/10ths of the way there, a few of us lingering at the back of the pack lost sight of those ahead, and somehow we lost the trail.
We wandered around a bit, until some backpackers coming downhill revealed where the trail was. Once walking again, there was a long steep uphill pull and after 5 or 10 minutes I stopped, a little light-headed, and said I was dropping back, while the rest of the group went on to Lower Treasure Lake for lunch. (Frank's site shows this and the link is provided below)
I had a sandwich & room temp french roast while sitting next to a small waterfall, then took photos for a bit, and started walking back downhill, taking my time and enjoying the views, eventually being caught & passed by the rest of the hikers. Usually at the end of a hike like this, all hikers are back within 5 to 15 minutes of each other. This was a good acclimation walk.
note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.
|in the mountains again||Jean, Bonnie, & Linda||group break at creek crossing|
|in the rock garden a||Hurd Peak ahead at 12,237 ft.||Rich & Linda w/South Lake background||the trail is here somewhere|
|Andy & Linda at the crossing||lunch spot||sometimes a root-congested path||end of summer look|
|looks like a succulent||South Lake overview|
|Jean||in the rock garden b||looking back near end of walk|
|de-mobe||regal-looking Hurd Peak in afternoon light|
After all the hikers had time to get cleaned up & organized in our respective cabins, or tent, the entire group gathered & drove down to Bishop for dinner, on Highway 168, a very scenic downhill cruise, losing 3,000 ft. of elevation in 30 minutes, with an impressive view of the White Mountains across the valley.
History note - On our maiden voyage to this area in 2006 as a camping group, Rich, Frank, Jean, and I, about 20 other people walked to the summit of White Mountain at 14,447 feet, a 12 or 13 hour walk. I'm always glad to see that mountain.
Whiskey Creek restaurant, in the center of Bishop, has a good menu, good service, and a nice atmosphere. The most recent remodel eliminated Highway 395 traffic sounds. Besides conveying fishermen, hikers, & other outdoor enthusiasts, State Highway 395 is a major north-south trucking route, and tractor-trailers are constant, Bishop's ambience thus being compromised, perhaps towards the grim side of the sliding scale, but, you forget that once inside this place.
Just as we were seated, Patrick, Victoria, and their daughter Elise breezed through to say Hi, on their way to the cabins. They'd had a long day of flights and were not hungry. Fortunately, Patrick has a friend at the Fresno airport who flew the family in a turbo-prop to Mammoth Airport in 24 minutes, which they said was a very low and scenic crossing of the Sierras. There they rented a car.
Going out for dinner after the first hike worked out really well, I thought. The scenery on the drive back uphill, as it was getting dark, was equally impressive.
Hike two - Lake Sabrina (9,128 ft.) to Blue Lakes (10,415 ft.)
Many of us did this walk together, a number of years ago, and it is a serious workout, with the scenery getting better & better with elevation. This time, after a few hours of steady uphill walking, only a few of the group had the power to make it to Blue Lake, while the rest of us found a good overlook, around noon, and had our lunch there.
|Elise at base camp||Patrick & Victoria||dam at the Lake||Lake Sabrina from dam|
|strong UV at 10,000 ft.||making adjustments||Mountain Mahogany with hairy white seeds|
|barely in focus Indian Paintbrush||Elderberries, see note||rest stop||herself|
|Piute Crags||looking east at White Mtn. & a crow||mini-steps today||tree at lunch spot|
|Bonnie and Jean at the Byzantine tree||Victoria and Elise||Linda, Elise, & Victoria|
|on the walk back||fall afternoon light|
note - I had no idea that Elderberries can grow at this elevation. Speaking of which, Rich served his home-made Elderberry Pie the night before, with a gazillion miniscule seeds, quite pleasing in texture & concentrated flavor, a culinary knockout.
Frank, Dan & Robin (and possibly Andy & Chris) made it to Blue Lakes, getting in 6.1 miles round trip with 1,855 ft. of elevation gain/loss.
Once we were back at the trailhead, Linda and Rich and I waited for the furthest outbound group to return. They were only 20 minutes behind in spite of having gone much further. Back at the start of the walk, Frank predicted that he might have a limited day today, but he ended up going the furthest out.
Hike three - South Lake to Long Lake
The last hike started out once again from South Lake. We initially intended to go to Chocolate Lakes, but instead, on Frank's recommendation, we diverted to Long Lake. Our group lunch spot was in a small woods with a wide-open view of Chocolate Peak, at 11,682 ft.
We took our time and soaked up the sunshine and scenery and Linda dipped Elise's feet in the water, before we eventually headed back.
Elise seems to enjoy being outdoors and she interacted well with other people, on both counts getting an A+ from me, and she has so much character, at only 15 months old. She's a super kid and it was really nice having Patrick, Victoria and Elise with us.
|group photo||South Lake again, ho-hum||morning light||the ascent|
|Chris||taking a break||Chocolate Peak in the background||Long Lake|
|Hurd Peak from the south||Bonnie||colorful place||Sierra Nevada meadow|
|finding more parts of Long Lake||Rich|
|Elise||Dan and Linda||Elise about to have feet dunked by Linda|
|Dan & Robin||trail walker||squirmy worm|
|Jean||Dan||Chocolate Peak||leaving Long Lake|
|reflection of snow patch, see note||in the rock garden c||d||e|
|climbing out of the basin||Alien face at Long Lake|
|late afternoon wind at South Lake|
note - many of the photos today were a little too bright or washed-out, because I left a CPL filter at the cabin. The rock garden images especially would have benefited, but oh well, it came out looking like a very bright and reflective sunny day at high altitude, which it was.
Today's walk was 5.6 miles round trip with 1,500 ft. of gain/loss.
After the three hikes we were usually back to our cabins by 4 pm, and had plenty of time to get in a hot shower with time to spare for hot tea and sitting around some.
Generally we re-assembled in the evening at the main picnic table area where Rich and Linda and others had a lot of chairs set up, arriving say from 6 pm to 6:30 pm. Most of us brought appetizers and Dan & Robin made great meals on nights 2 and 3. Dan's initial meal of Thai-spiced stir fried chicken & noodles was gourmet-ish and very well-received.
I enjoyed the group's conversations & jokes and story-telling episodes, especially around the fire. Most of us retired to our cabins by maybe 9 pm. Since I brought the wood I became the fire-tender, and 'tended' to stay around to watch the coals die down and then I finally doused them for the night.
Out on the trail, it was a group of experienced hikers, who looked out for each other, and everything came off nicely, with no slips or falls. The slippery-est part of the three walks occurred on hike two, up in the hills above Lake Sabrina, where those mini-steps are not hard to walk up, but watch out on the way down if there's any loose granite around. I had a few moments of sliding out but it was pretty minor.
Thanks to everyone who attended for being a part of one more great trip into the Sierra Nevada mountains!
See Frank's photo pages which includes his daily pre-hike group photo, and a nice topo map for the hike. Frank's photos include beautiful panoramas.
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