Friggin’ Sweet! Continuing on with the permit momentum here, today, I secured permits for 9 people in the John Muir Wilderness in the Inyo National Forest just outside of Bishop, CA…this is going to be awesome! The area is absolutely gorgeous…all of it…in every single picture I have seen. I can think of no better way to celebrate our independence than to immerse ourselves in the spectacular lands that this great country offers. Who the hell needs fireworks?!?!?
Day 0 – Thursday Night/Friday Morning
This one I am still working out… I’m trying to keep travel time and the fact we have to stop at the ranger station in Bishop to pick the permits up in mind. I think we’ll either push-through Thursday night and camp somewhere right near Bishop and head to the trailhead Friday morning, or we will camp somewhere along the way to the Bishop area (but closer to the half-way or 2/3 way mark of the drive) and just pick up the permits on the way to the trailhead. I’ll update this once I figure it out. Depending on where we do camp, we can have a Friday Thursday night.
Day 1 - Friday – Pine Creek Pass Trailhead to Pine Lake – 4mi
This is a short day distance wise, but do not let that fool you…this will be a tough 4 miles. At 2550ft of elevation gain over the 4 miles, think along the lines of the Grand Canyon. Remember, this trip is in July…you have PLENTY of time to get ready…we are in no hurry…we’ll also be dealing with elevation…we’ll go slow and steady…we’ll all get there. As a note, I will reserve the right to prevent your attendance if I do not feel you are capable.
Anyways, the route for Friday is simple. We are starting at the trailhead just beyond some ruins (just before the mill) and going to be stopping at Pine Lake (also referred to as Lower Pine Lake). I chose the lower Pine Lake because we will be camping just below 10,000ft. The significance of the 10,000ft mark is that we can have a campfire BELOW it, but NOT above it. A cool thing about this being a short day is that there are TONS of areas to explore as day-hiking opportunities…from everything I have seen, this is an absolutely stunning wilderness and the relaxed pace of our trip should add some depth to the experience.
Day 2 - Saturday – Pine Lake to Moon Lake – 5mi
Five short miles today, and much, much less elevation! The total gain for the day is 1154ft, or less than half of the previous day, in a longer distance. The trail appears straight-forward and will take us up and over Pine Creek Pass, until we start to drop (a little) into the French Canyon area, and camping right next to Moon Lake. Unfortunately, we’re above 11,000ft so we cannot have any campfires tonight, but shortly after coming over the pass, we can do a side-detour of a mile down the French Canyon Trail and check out some pretty epic waterfalls.
Day 3 - Sunday – Moon Lake to Trailhead – 8.9mi
This is our long day…but worry not, it’s all down-hill…literally! We have to hike the entire trail that we covered over the previous 2 days, but again, those were really short days. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this will take us right about 3 hours. If we break camp at 7am (kind of early, but we’ll get an epic sunrise), we can be back to the cars at 10:00am, eat breakfast in Bishop, and get back to Phoenix somewhere in the 7pm – 9pm range.
I’m charging $19.38 for this meetup. The money is covering the permitting costs and all camping/firewood/etc. costs of camping Thursday night on the way to Pine Creek (once we’re there, the camping is free!).
The Recreation.gov website states: “ICE and SNOW ALERT- Mountain elevations in this area traditionally have ice and snow until late June or early July.” This shouldn’t be anything to worry and is no different from our Grand Teton Trip a week and a half later. Bring an ice-axe. Crampons can be brought at your discretion.
Pine Creek Entrance Details - http://www.recreation.gov/entranceDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72203&entranceId=315505
Inyo National Forest Website - http://www.fs.usda.gov/inyo/
Route/Topo Map –
Driving Directions – https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=phoenix,+az&daddr=Bishop,+CA&hl=en&sll=34.168218,-111.930907&sspn=11.27955,19.753418&geocode=Fblh_gEdy-JR-SnLeaFQ7RIrhzGsG0o1-MdpjA%3BFRAXOgIdUF3x-CkHZKaeARa-gDEWiemVTR7NEw&oq=bishop&mra=ls&t=m&z=7