CA – Eastern Sierra, South Lake Bishop Pass Trail . . . a day of giddiness

After hiking from the Big Pine Creek Trailhead both North Fork and South Fork, I returned to Bishop before chasing another lead for peak fall colors. As I drove toward South Lake, I was excited to finally see the colors I’d been seeking for the past week.

I began to wonder if I’d ever make it to the trailhead. I was beyond happy with the visual eye candy.

The tapestry of colors along the mountains was especially eye catching.

But alas, I finally arrived!

South Lake

On this day I decided to follow the trail to Bishop Pass.

Long Lake was a beauty.

This is Chocolate Peak. My plan was to hike the loop to Chocolate Lakes on my return trip.

As the trail continues, I continue to smile while trying to guess the location of Bishop Pass.

There were a few patches of this red vegetation which really popped among the gray granite boulders.

Hello my friend, is it nearing hibernation time?

Nice view back at Saddlerock and Bishop Lakes with Hurd Peak rising to the left.

Time for some climbing.

This is a good view looking down at the switchbacks with a hiker descending.

An example of some serious trail building involved in creating all these switchbacks.

Looking back at the upper tarns and lakes reminding me of how many places there are to explore in this giant playground.

Nearing the final push.

The Bishop Pass sign is in the distance.

The views were incredible. This was the trail descending into Dusy Basin, another one marked on my list for a future visit.

Once again my Peak Finder app was so helpful in identifying the various mountains.

After spending some time gawking at maps and views, it was time to descend enjoying incredible views along the way. You can even see Chocolate Mountain peeking out in the far distance.

View of Ruwau Lake from Bishop Pass Trail.

Ruwau Lake from the Chocolate Lakes Loop trail. I met this hiker coming from the opposite direction who gave me a bit of intel on this secondary most unmaintained trail.

When you don’t do your research, you might find yourself climbing. I was beginning to get a bit nervous about running out of time. It was already after 4pm when I reached this viewpoint above Ruwau Lake.

Ut oh, I really wasn’t anticipating rocky route finding. The looming question, is it time to turn back?

Around 5pm, I found the first of the Chocolate Lakes.

The backside of Chocolate Peak with Chocolate Lake in the foreground.

Whew made it back on the main trail by 6pm. This day became my favorite of this fall jaunt second only to Virginia Lakes.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 9, 2019

Hike Details:Tips:

  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower I recommend The Hostel California rather than the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).



CA – Falling into Winter, Eastern Sierra Style


I miss blogging. It’s my therapy between trips. It’s how I put words to photos and memorialize my adventures. The photo links are still broken on my 400+ previous posts. I don’t like the “best practices” method of uploading photos to WordPress but at this point, it’s my best quick solution option. Each of the below deserve their own post with plentiful photos. Hopefully I can repair my blog and resume these posts.img_20191010_130850236

Bodie State Historic Park

I consider the Bridgeport area an arbitrary northern boundary of the Eastern Sierra. My timing has never allowed a visit to Bodie. I found the interpretative pamphlet worth the few bucks to bring the history alive.dsc02371

Virginia Lakes Trailhead

There was a lot of WOW per mile on this trail. It ranked in my top two jaunts this fall. The lakes, geology and trail conditions made for a wonderful day. dsc02625

Lundy Canyon Trailhead

My first trip to the Eastern Sierra a few years ago showcased Lundy as a premier location for leaf peeping. Well I was a little too early this year although late September was peak my first year, early October was not this year. Instead I enjoyed waterfalls, a bug-free trail, gorgeous rocks and most of all brisk temperatures of the changing seasons. dsc02909

Lake Sabrina Trailhead

You may recall in early June this year I visited a few trailheads including this one. Most were still blocked by snow and lakes were topped in ice. I was looking forward to hiking these trails while gaining deeper access into alpine country. I ended up hiking two trails out of this trailhead.dsc04373

On October 4th, I hiked a lollipop loop including Blue, Donkey and Baboon Lakes.dsc03108

A couple weeks later I returned this time hiking to Dingleberry and Midnight Lakes.dsc04445

Big Pine Trailhead

This was another area I’d visited during my early June jaunt. I hiked North Fork Trail to First, Second and Third Lakes then on toward Temple Crag.dsc03415

Next up was South Fork Trail to Brainerd Lake. High point was a bit over 10,000 feet.dsc03637

South Lake Trailhead

I’d heard plenty about the popular North Lake South Lake Loop so was looking forward to seeing for myself a bit of the hype. Of course a good percentage of the loop is shared with the JMT which I’d previously hiked.  This was my other favorite trail. I loved the views from Bishop Pass and the geology surrounding the Chocolate Lakes.dsc04017

North Lake Trailhead

It didn’t take much time before I knew if I was hiking the North Lake South Lake Loop  I’d begin with the more gentle climb out of South Lake to Bishop Pass and ending with the steeper trail descending to North Lake from Piute Pass.dsc04212

Little Lakes Valley Trailhead

In early June we had to park near Rock Creek Lake and snow hiked to this trailhead. It was very satisfying to hike deeper into alpine country up to Morgan Pass with side trips to Chickenfoot and Gems Lakes. DSC04814G

McGee Creek Trailhead

This trail proved to be the winner on my search for fall foliage this season. Not only was the geology WOWtastic, but the colors kept me smiling. dsc04886

Green Creek Trailhead

Although I missed peak colors, I enjoyed experiencing the lakes close up and personal that’d I’d seen earlier on my Virginia Lakes hike. dsc05431

Crowley Lake

This was more exploration and wandering than hiking. I’d heard about these columnar formations and wanted to see them for myself. With road access more appropriate for a true 4×4 with high clearance than my baby 4×4 (Honda CR-V 4×4). With an adventurous  friend visiting with a 4Runner inviting some play, it was the perfect opportunity. It was a steep, narrow, sandy track with a few very deep holes. I would NOT have taken my car but surprisingly we met an individual driving something similar. dsc04518

I really enjoyed spending the first few weeks of October in the Eastern Sierra. With overnight temperatures from the mid teens to low 30’s, I wasn’t very motivated to backpack. Sleeping in my car and day hiking was much preferable although I missed out on amazing sunsets, sunrises and further exploration opportunities. This trip however reinforced my desire to spend a summer wandering these wonderful trails.dsc03766

As for the state of my blog . . . this post was highly unsatisfactory. Embedding the photos was extremely time consuming and not being able to share the full experience is not my style. I hope with the help of my IT friend, we’ll find a better long-term solution. I appreciate your patience.