Bishop Pass - August, 2001

I hadn't done many good backpacking trips for a while - the Eastern Sierra is a long drive away for a weekend trip. But with all the free time I had this summer, I could actually make it out there and join my mother for one of her trips with the Sierra Club. It also looked to be my last shot - I left for Bishop with a verbal job offer - sadly it managed to disappear by the time I returned. Oh well, what can you do? This weekend was also the peak of the annual Perseid (leonid?) meteor shower.

Permits for Bishop Pass are dreadfully limited, unless you're with a commercial outfit with a pack of animals. Somehow they're not considered to cause impact. In any event, we were a group of 6 able to head up and over to Dusi Basin. The trailhead is at South Lake, a popular fishing destination with boat ramps and lots of infrastructure. The route is a string of lakes with remarkably clear water. I wish I had known to bring a pair of swim goggles. Even without I could see clear detail below. As we pass 11,000 we're above the timberline and going up a talus slope with a moderate excuse for a trail. Bishop Pass lies right about 12,000 and from there we drop down the other side to Dusi Basin at about 11,400. Here we have many more lakes, separated by small dropoffs and rock slabs. I managed to swim in almost every lake possible. I get so much dust on me climbing about in the scree and talus - a nice cold swim feels great. I couldn't quite place the water temp - sometimes it felt like 60, other times the high 40s. I suspect somewhere in the middle, say 55, is about right.

We tried one day hike up there, aiming for Columbine Peak at 12,662. It involved a trek across the basin and then up a gully to Knapsack Pass at 11,680. From there it was supposed to be a class 2 ascent to the peak. Where that was remains to be seen - looks pretty damn tough. Around the backside there was a simpler looking scramble, but by then some people were cooked, so we turned back. For now my

The meteors were the other attraction. With no clouds in the sky and no nearby cities, it was ideal for viewing. I saw numerous satellites or airplanes overhead, as well as more meteors than I think I've ever seen, occasionally two at once. But...the peak was too late in the evening for me, couldn't stay up. Somewhere to the east were some lightning storms that occasionally lit up the ridgeline above us.

Photos from the trip


GPS locations:

Trailhead at South Lake
37.16942 -118.56596

Campsite at Dusi Basin
37.10182 -118.55136

Bishop Pass?
37.11423 -118.54588