South Lake to North Lake: Day 1

August 31

The noontime sun beats down by the time we arrive at the trailhead. The first part of the trip takes us along the South Fork of Bishop Creek. Before reaching Long Lake, we pass a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, who are planning to spend their first night at Saddlerock Lake. We decide to have lunch at one of the small lakes just before the steep switchbacks.

The trail zigzags up the slope toward Bishop Pass, alongside the Inconsolable Range. We meet trail crews making adjustments to the steps so that the switchbacks would be more gradual to allow for stock to not stumble. At this point, I am glad to have done some training—running five to six miles every weekend for the past month and hiking up San Gorgonio the previous week.

Snow blankets the approach to Bishop Pass. Even though the regulations prohibit shortcutting switchbacks, the tracks in the snow go straight up the mountain for the last little bit. Brad leads the summit bid.

Here, we enter Kings Canyon National Park. The panorama of Dusy Basin unfolds as we descend and pass picturesque lakes and verdant meadows. We have the second serving of Johnnycakes here. Brad had made these the day before, using his amazing recipe that needs to become famous.

Three miles past the peak of this day’s trip, we reach lower Dusy Basin and settled on a campsite nestled behind some boulders on a small bluff above Lake 10742. Actually, this lake is unnamed, but we will just designate it by its elevation. The first task is to pitch the homemade tent that I put together several months ago. Before the trip, for several reasons, I was nervous about bringing it—uncertain about it holding up for a weeklong trip, and not knowing if Brad would like it. It turns out to be fine.

After the routine cleanup and laundry, we make red curry to go over rice. It turned out fine, but I could have brought more curry paste. The next steps are part of the usual routine: wash the dishes, have a hot drink and some dessert, brush our teeth, and stow everything away. There being no campfires allowed above 10,000 feet, there isn’t much to do after dark but sleep.

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