Sunday, October 17, 2021

Bishop Canyon, October 2021

These are from October 10 and 11, Indidgenous Peoples Day weekend, 2021.

I had hiked up here in July (still need to blog!), and saw a few places that seemed like they might have some nice aspen color, come the fall. So I spent a few October days in Bishop, exploring Bishop Canyon, again.

This was a childhood stomping grounds of mine, with many fishing trips/camping trips along Bishop Creek. But those were all in the summer. First fall trip up here, I think.

The first few shots in this post were from around North Lake. Over the summer, I hiked from North Lake to Upper Lamarck Lake. Noticed the aspen-covered road leading to North Lake, and some aspen at the start of the trail. In mid-October, those leaves along the road were wonderful. Also, they were apparently well-known, as there were LOTS of cars and people walking the area when I arrived, late on a Sunday afternoon.

One interesting thing I observed was how different the coloration looks when I was viewing them backlit, as I hiked west, versus after the sun had set and I was seeing them in the twilight shade, hiking back. The other thing was that most of the leaf peepers were gone by the time I got back. That's why my car looks like it's just sitting in the middle of the road, rather than in a parking pocket, with about a half-dozen cars between it and where I took that second picture.

I hiked just a little bit up towards Lamarck Lake, saw bare branches rather than colorful foliage, then came back down and hiked maybe a mile towards Piute Pass, before turning back through the campground and back to my car. About 3.75 miles, total. Best coloration was on that original road segment, although I could see a wall of greenish leaves behind the tree tunnel that might continue coloring for another week or two. By contrast, the trees on the east and north side of North Lake were already barren, as were the ones just a little higher (and more exposed).
The next morning, I headed up to Lake Sabrina. Saw some coloration on the far shoreline, and intended to try to get there. Didn't make it, though.

I followed the trail on the south side of the lake, then, when I noted it climbing away from the lake, I left the trail, and cross-countried down to towards the shore. Thought I might be able to make it around that way. Not sure if I could have, as I got distracted by some color at the first inflow. That's the cascades, and the ice at the base of a pool below the cascades. While I was shooting a ridiculous number of shots here, the clouds suddenly dropped on me and graupel started falling. I was worried about the road icing up and maybe getting stuck up here, so turned around and headed back to the car.

Hadn't gone far before the clouds either rose or dropped, and the graupel slowed. By the time I got back near the dam, the sun poked out, on occasion, and many hikers were starting their hike out. Still, wasn't feeling like trying to repeat my trip, since I figured there was a good chance the clouds and icy precipitation would return.
Did get a nice, moderate-zoom shot across the lake, though.

After I got back to the car, I used the vault toilet (part of why I started the hike at a known destination!), then drove down, just a few hundred yards. I had passed a nice pond, with some good color on the banks. Unfortunately, stupid millennials also found the spot, and got there just ahead of me.

I don't begrude folks wanting to get a good shot (obviously), but I do dislike people who feel the need to insert themselves into the scene. Because that means, instead of just standing nearby, where we can both get our shots, one of them needs to walk out into the middle of the shot and sit down on a rock or a log, and strike a faux-thoughtful pose. Then they need to take picture after picture, to get just the correct fake moment and pose. Then they'll switch places, and repeat the process. Many minutes where no one else can get their shot without a poser in the way. Grumble.

Now, mind you, it's not even that I necessarily want a people-less photo of my own, if that's also going to be a misrepresentation of what's actually there. In fact, I sometimes like having people in my photos, since they give a scale to what you're seeing. It's just that I don't like it when their attempt at a fake moment completely dominates the scene, and now they're the "star," instead of the trees or the mountains. It's also the fakeness of the moment, like, instead of actually getting away and enjoying the wilderness and the seasons, it's more important to get the picture of them pretending to be doing that.

So I wasted about 10-15 minutes of my life, before I was finally able to snap my photos, and move on.

"On" was back down Bishop Canyon. On my drive up that morning (and the previous night, on the way to North Lake)I saw there was some good aspen color just before where the road to North Lake splits off. So I drove back down, parked, looked over the canyon, and tried to figure out how to get to where the trees were.

It looked like a broad and easy dirt road came up from down canyon, and that would be an easy walk for me. So I drove down to Cardinal Road, turned left, then headed up the paved road to where it ended, at Cardinal Resort. Parked outside of their lot, then walked past the resort, among the many cabins they have, and into the woods.

Many trails headed up stream, some crossing the creek, and some staying on the south side. After a brief chat with a couple and their dog, which were coming down canyon, I elected to cross over a log crossing, to the north side of the creek. Following various use trails, and eventually came across a large mining remains, which was where I saw what looked like a broad road when I was back on the highway. Unfortunately, passage further up canyon did not look easy, so I turned around, there. But before heading back to my car, I headed north and east, towards a large cascade I had seen, which ran down from North Lake, and towards the main canyon.

Made my way as far as safe, snapped some photos there, then returned to Cardinal Resort, and my car.

Took many leaf pictures from my various vantage points, between Cardinal Resort, the mining area, and the trail-less route to the cascade. Those are the photos after my pond shots, from below Lake Sabrina.

Not sure how far I walked on that day, but I hit my step target (16,000 steps) before I got back. I would estimate over 3 miles to go halfway around Sabrina and back, and a similar distance (more climbing) from Cardinal Resort and vicinity.

Crossed paths with very few hikers, once I got away from Cardinal Resort. Lots of footprints, so I know people hike here, though.

Took some more shots from near my car, on the narrow paved road near Cardinal Resort, then started driving back down, to Bishop. As I descended, the thermometer on my car showed about 30 degrees, plus some clouds, and the occasional graupel. Coming down, the temperature stayed pretty consistent for a few thousand feet. When I passed into the cloud deck, visibility shrunk, and it got borderline spooky. But then further descent brought me below the clouds. The closer I got to town, the brighter it got. In town, while it was overcast, it wasn't dark, and no precipitation was falling. If I were down there, I would have thought it was fine hiking weather.

And, in fact, it was fine hiking weather, although it was always threatening to get worse. I wore my thick down jacket, however, and was more than comfortable. The graupel was definitely preferable to sleet or freezing rain.

All in all, a good couple of days in the eastern Sierra, with a couple of short hikes and lots of aspen leaves. Didn't hike as much as normal, since my wife joined me on this trip and we spent some time socializing with one of her college friends. But enough hiking and enough aspen to feel like it was a fall foliage trip. May try for one or two more foliage hikes before we completely move to winter, but a nice end to "summer," nonetheless.

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