Dusy Basin

August 25-28, 2008
Justdropin' (Cris, our wedding photographer and Mt. Langley hiking partner) and I
spent the last four days hiking from South Lake up the Bishop Pass Trail and over
into Dusy Basin in Kings Canyon National Park.  Since I spent the first few years of
my life at Bishop Creek I've been wanting to explore the backcountry here for quite
some time.  Growing up my family spent its time camping and fishing in the area but
never hiked back into the wilderness.  Back in 1999 I did an early season hike with
Andrew up to Long Lake which was still snowbound but I have never been further
back in.  I'm so glad I finally decided to go!  It is absolutely gorgeous...  lake after
lake after lake, waterfalls, meadows, and many very high rugged peaks providing the
backdrop.  Lots of wildlife, too - we saw a bear right at Bishop Pass, 11,900'.  That's
the highest I've ever seen a bear I think.  We also saw two deer near our campsite
at an unnamed lake in Dusy Basin, 3 pikas near Knapsack Pass, a mountain
yellow-legged frog and tons of fish, a jackrabbit, squirrels, chipmunks, Clarks
Nutcrackers, etc.   

I drove up to Bishop Creek on Sunday and stayed the night at 4 Jeffrey Campground.  
This is just down the road from where we lived for the first few years of my life.  I
found a great site next to a grove of aspen trees and that night enjoyed a visit by a
friendly and expressive deer.  The next day I drove up to the trailhead and met
Justdropin' and SPeacock (another bp.com forumite) who was joining us for the first
day's hike up to Ruwau Lake.  We made it up to the lake in time for a late lunch then
we said goodbye to Steve and Justdropin' and I dayhiked up to Chocolate Peak to get
a good view of the area and our route the next day.

The second day we cross-countried from Ruwau over to the two Timberline Tarns
then caught the trail again as it went up to Saddlerock and Bishop Lakes.  From here
the trail starts to climb quickly and soon reaches a rockslide zone.  Here a sign warns
you to not dilly-dally and hike straight through until you reach the next sign.  Then the
trail climbs even steeper up a rock face to the pass.  At the pass you are afforded a
great view of Dusy Basin on down to the South Fork Kings River and the remote
peaks beyond that.  We hiked about a mile and a half down and then off trail to a
medium-sized unnamed lake.  We ate lunch then found a campsite on the western
shore.  We went for a swim and enjoyed the afternoon and evening.  Especially
wonderful were the alpenglow reflections of Mt. Agassiz, Winchell, Thunderbolt, and
North Palisade.  We also saw two deer that evening near our camp.

The next morning we kept camp where it was and dayhiked cross-country over
towards Knapsack Pass.  Now there is an easy way to do this pass and a hard way...  
and I think we chose the latter!  We stayed up too high and ended up doing way too
much talus and boulder hopping.  At one point the boulders were so huge and the
chasms between them so deep I started getting very nervous and scared.  Thank
goodness Cris was there to help me through it.  We made it up to the pass and saw
the incredible views into Palisade Basin and Mt. Sill, Middle Palisade, and Mt. Clyde
beyond and I decided that was enough of an adventure for the day.  So we headed
back to camp this time taking a lower less-rocky route.  When we got back to camp
we went for another swim and took a nap.  In the afternoon we played a game of Pass
the Pigs and also had fun spotting the occasional hiker crossing the slopes in the
distance.  It is rather like "Where's Waldo?" - unless the person is moving or
wearing red it is really hard to spot anyone out there in that vast landscape.  Also
that evening we started to smell smoke from a wildfire burning far to the west.  

Early that morning around 2:00 am we heard a huge rockslide in the distance...  It
was scary to hear and I hoped it wasn't on the Bishop Pass Trail where we'd be hiking
back out the next day.  Thank goodness it wasn't.  We made good time back over the
pass after packing up camp that next day.  At the very top, right at the sign, we saw
a medium-sized cinnamon brown colored black bear ambling up through the rocks.  I
promptly started waving my trekking poles around and talking to the bear telling it
to not come any closer whereas Cris promptly got out his camera and got a couple of
shots.  The bear took
one look at us and just kept on walking and disappeared around
a bunch of rocks.  Soon after a guy came out walking the same way and we called over
to him to see if he had seen the bear.  Yes, they apparently passed within feet of one
another.  And it turns out it was the same guy we had seen at the pass two days
before.  In the meantime he had climbed Agassiz and Picture Puzzle Peaks.  This is
certainly a prime area not just for backpacking but also mountaineering.

On down the pass we went and braved the rockslide for the second time.  I originally
planned to spend one more night in the canyon but justdropin' wanted to join a few
friends on another bp trip embarking the next day from Mammoth so we decided to
hike all the way out on Thursday.  We reached the trailhead around 3:30 pm,
purchased showers at the nearby Parcher's Resort, then drove down to Bishop to eat
dinner at Jack's.  It was yummy, I had a cheeseburger on a homemade bread roll and
part of Cris' milkshake.  Thanks Cris for treating me :)  We then parted ways, he
heading towards Mammoth and me driving south along 395.  I didn't quite make it
home but pulled off to sleep at Four Corners and then drove the rest of the way
home this morning.
Click here for more photos!

Click here for Cris' photos!



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