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TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

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TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby cloudlesssky » Sun May 24, 2015 5:53 pm

My "younger" brother, Will, and I hatched a plan to go on an early season hike and convinced one of our "older" brothers, Wayne, to join us. We all got kitchen passes and the three of us 50+ year-olds decided about a month ago (when it was warm) that we'd go to Dusy Basin. Will and I had passed through on a N-S Lake Loop a couple years ago and talked about going back. And we'd been weathered out of that return trip last fall, so we were anxious to visit. We watched the weather closely and knew what we'd likely be getting into but were surprised by the amount of snow remaining at the higher elevations.

We departed the South Lake trailhead Friday morning around 10:30am. There was a bit of fresh snow on the ground from Thursday night, but the trail was clear and we headed up towards Long Lake. We made Long Lake in good time with the oldest of us leading the way. There were light snow showers and increasing snow patches, but the weather seemed to be holding to the forecast and so we pressed on.

As we reached Saddlebag lake and gained altitude above it the trail became fully covered in snow. As you can see in the picture the lake is still largely frozen over although the shoreline is mostly slushy.

We continue to gain altitude climbing above Bishop lake and near the base of the pass. The trail became unrecognizable but there were a single fresh set of tracks and the apparent trough of prior tracks to follow. The snow became deep enough to posthole in spots.

Eventually we came to the area that the Bishop Pass switchbacks begin and the trail was entirely covered and you could only make out the faint outline of the trail switchbacks above. The tracks and faint trough we'd been following headed straight up the gully below Mt. Agassiz rather than up the pass. We decided that it wouldn't be wise to go further and decided to head down to one of the lower lakes for the night.

On the way down we stopped and talked with "Squeeze". He is a PCTer who came out over Bishop pass earlier in the week to resupply and avoid the weather. He said Dusy Basin was solidly snowed in and the lakes were all frozen. He also said he'd lost the trail and had just come straight down the gully below Mt. Agassiz. He didn't seem real excited to try to go back up the way he'd come down and he was lightly equipped. I assume he camped somewhere near Saddlerock lake, but we didn't see him again.

We set up camp just below Saddlerock lake. About 5:30 pm, just when we started preparing dinner, snow started to fall in earnest so we ate and crawled into our tents for the night. It snowed and hailed off and on for a few hours and we awoke to an inch or two of new snow.

We got lucky and the sun came out for a couple hours. The scenery was gorgeous and the sun cooperated long enough to dry out the tents and warm our toes.

I was enjoying the warmth of the sun too much to rig my pole and try the fishing, but my brother Will tried his luck at the inlet end of Long Lake and caught a 11" rainbow and a brookie. The outlet end is open as well but he didn't try there.

After only a couple short hours of wonderful sunshine the weather closed in again. Without much opportunity to fish due to the lakes being frozen, and the weather closing in, we decided that we'd rather hike out than spend the afternoon and evening in our tents. So we packed up and headed down. There were hoards of people heading up as it was Memorial Day weekend. One group of 24 day hikers (!) were headed up to the pass with snowshoes.

All in all we had a good time. Although we'd all have preferred nicer weather it was difficult to get our schedules aligned so we made the best of it and I'm glad we did.

Oh I forgot, it was my brother Wayne's 30th anniversary which made his kitchen pass something remarkable. He was surprised to find that his wife had hidden a card in his pack. I'd say his wife is "a keeper".
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby justm » Sun May 24, 2015 7:57 pm

Wow, beautiful pics !!! What a fun trip! Thanks for sharing :)
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby Ska-T » Sun May 24, 2015 9:18 pm

Thanks for the entertaining story, the beautiful photos, and the informative report!!
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby gabe&mel » Sun May 24, 2015 10:19 pm

Thanks for the trail report and conditions cloudlesssky! I plan to head over bishop pass in 10 days but I think I'll wait and see how things go weather wise.

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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby gary c. » Sun May 24, 2015 10:57 pm

Great pictures, thanks for the report. Some friends and I started up to Long Lake on Memorial Weekend a couple years ago on a snowy morning. The report was for clearing and it did but the night time temps still drop into the low teens. The next day we fished and explored until late afternoon when someone mentioned how cold it would get again and that if we hurried we could be eating steak in Bishop by dark. You have never seen camp get broke so fast in all your life.
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby Bluewater » Mon May 25, 2015 4:44 pm

Thanks for the conditions update and photos cloudlesssky! i may be following your tracks (or what's left of them) up there next weekend.
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby maverick » Mon May 25, 2015 4:52 pm

Thank you for the TR, and really enjoyed the pictures. It seems like most of the energy of this storm was directed towards the southern part of the Sierra, there is barely any snow on the Yosemite webcams (a little on the peaks of the Cathedral Range).
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby KathyW » Mon May 25, 2015 5:06 pm

Yes, thanks - very nice of you to share your story and photos.
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Re: TR Bishop Lakes 22-23 May 2015

Postby bbayley80 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:01 pm

thanks for the report and beta!
great shots of the adventure.

my wife's always hiding cards in my pack too-'keepers' for sure..
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