I set up my tent in a well protected site near Bishop Lake, about one mile below the pass. The weather forecast called for a 20% chance of light snow.
When I woke up in the morning my tent was covered in snow and there was about 3" of snow at that time. I waited for the weather to break, but by 9AM I lost faith that they snow would let up. I pack up quickly and intended to get back down to the trail head before the trail was covered in snow. In my rush to get packed and down the mountain I dropped my GPS in the snow, but didn't know it until I got to my car. I would have to come back when the snow melted to try and find it.
On my way down from the pass I met two hikers that were bailing out of the Sierras at the same time I was. I gave them a ride to town and then on to their car, about 40 miles away at Mammoth Lakes, where they started. The weather was going to be bad for a couple of days, so we all decided to head for Death Valley to dry out before going back to the Sierras. These ladies were doing the entire John Muir Trail and are very experienced through hikers, having hiked over 7000 miles! On the left is Teresa, aka "Wandering Hippie" and to the right is Kellie, aka "Hippie Longstockings".
The scenery in Death Valley was grand indeed! Deep canyons, flat salt lakes, and sand dunes. Everything you would want in a desert experience. Plus, warmth!
At the lowest point in Death Valley and the United States.
After an overnight stay in Death Valley we headed back to the Sierras with a plan to hike from Kersarge to Taboose. A 45 plus mile hike which takes in one of the most spectacular portions of the John Muir Trail. With the "Hippies" and I teaming up we could put a car at the beginning and the end, so we didn't have to worry about hitch hiking back to the car. Getting up to Kersarge Pass was a steep climb, but a well maintained trail.
Coming down from Kersarge Pass we had a fantastic view into the heart of the Sierras. Bull Frog lake sits in the background.
The hike up Glen Pass from Bull Frog Lake was long and brutal. Over the course of several miles it was switch backs and high stair treads made of rock. Manyof the stair treads (rock steps) were 2' high! And, there were hundreds of them. If you are looking to get buns of steel, this is the way to do it!
Coming down from Glenn Pass in to the Rae Lakes area was a spectacular sight. Here, the Painted Lady looms on the horizon. We sat near these lakes during our lunch break and enjoyed the best lunch time scenery a person could hope for.
On the way down from Glenn Pass and the Rae Lakes we had a glorious view of one of the many Sierra divides.
On our way up to Pinchot Pass it was toward the end of the day and getting very cold! We finally stopped when it got dark, put up our tents, and went straigt away to bed - after some hot soup! It was a rugged 20 mile day, having tackled two passes and 5000 ft. of elevation gain. We estimated that the temperature went in to the teens that night.
The next morning we got to the top of Pinchot Pass early in the morning. Marie Lake sits just below the pass.
The next day, after coming down Taboose Pass, we went our separate ways, the Hippies went south to get back on the Pacific Crest Trail near Mt. Whitney and I went north, back to Bishop Lake to see if I could find my GPS. This picture shows the GPS right where I dropped it in to the snow. Several days later, undisturbed!
Looking back from Bishop Pass to Bishop Lake and the rest of the lakes along the pass trail. It's hard to believe that just a few days previous to this day the landscape here was covered with 5" of snow.
I was at the end of my time among the cathedrals of the Sierras and as I sat looking toward the Black Divide from Bishop Pass I contemplated my return next year. Yes, next year it will be the John Muir Trail in its entirety. At least, that will be the plan!