Day 50: Bishop Pass: My Northern Terminus

20 May 2021
Middle Fork Kings River to Bishop Pass Trailhead
PCT Mile 833.5 to 831.0

I heard Ground Score and Berk leave before dawn this morning. They are eager to beat the sun and its menacing ability to turn a snowy sidewalk into a slushy morass. I wish them well.

I too was up early, ready to leave shortly after first light. The others were still sleeping. Good luck guys!

I didn’t know how I would feel today. But now I do.

I feel light as a feather.

It’s like the Eagles are lifting me off the slopes of Mount Doom.

(Okay, I promise no more Lord of the Rings references….)

I made easy work of the 3 downhill PCT miles I had to backtrack to get to the Bishop Pass Trail.

A lovely new day
A special glow on the granite

It was COLD on the way down, definitely below 32. I kept my water filter in my pocket to keep it from freezing. And the weather forecast called for temperatures to drop slightly during the day.

But all that was actually good news once I started the 3300 foot climb out of LeConte Canyon. I followed Dusy Branch up relentless switchbacks with gusto and hardly a drop of sweat.

I love the polished granite cascades!
Trickier than it looks — the logs were covered in ice!
Soooo many stairs!
I finally saw a sooty grouse! They make the “whump, whump, whump” sound we always hear in the Sierra
Dusy Branch bridge at 10,200 feet
Above the bridge
Reward for the climb

Both the view down to LeConte Canyon and the lakes and meadows of Dusy Basin were just as stunning as always. I took a brief break out of the wind at the first lake where we swam last summer and then pressed on.

Lake 10742
What a beauty!
I swam here last year (not today!)

It was so cold, the ground itself heaved with frost and trail streams became ice chutes.

Frost heaves
Maybe I should go around
That’s how I know it’s freezing!
First view of Bishop Pass (you know, where God is pointing)

Snow fields and complex terrain made it difficult to follow the trail, so I just walked up the crunchy white ravines. I didn’t even need my spikes — the snow gave just enough to let my Altras grip perfectly.

Hey, this is easy!
Lake 11280+
Yes, this is a lucky day
Looking back on one of my crunchy ravines
Upper Dusy Basin
Thunderbolt Pass in the distance
Yay!
Mount Agassiz

I was a little worried about the descent from Bishop Pass. Some PCT hikers who came through here and passed us yesterday called it “sketchy.” I guessed that the switchbacks still had some steep snowfields blocking some of the turns. So I avoided them and headed over to a glacial moraine to the east of them, which was covered in a moderate-angle snow chute. I donned my microspikes and started down.

Approach to the snow chute
Getting lower… and steeper!

The snow got too steep for me. I was using my broken trekking pole as a poor man’s ice axe, but it wasn’t enough. I decided I descended too far to the west, so I climbed back up and rock scrambled over to the next ravine to the east. It was much better! I had a 20 foot section I did VERY carefully, and then after that it was smooth sailing.

Looking up the snow chute
Looking down the snow chute towards Bishop Lake

I worried that the snow would run out and I would be stuck in monster-boulder hell. But fortuitously, the snow ran out right at the bottom of the switchbacks. Perfect!

What luck! Here’s the trail!
Tarn above Bishop Lake
Frozen water crossings
Bishop Lake

The rest of the day was a waltz past all the beautiful lakes of this stunning valley.

Lovely dry trail
View back towards Bishop Pass
Seasonal tarn
Saddlerock Lake
Mount Goode
Saddlerock Lake outlet
Timberline Tarns
Spearhead Lake
Long Lake
Mount Goode reflection shot!

I took a final break just past Long Lake, where I saw my very first day hiker. It’s good news I finally saw someone because I need a hitch to town!

My final peanut butter tortilla!
Bye John (see ya soon!)
South Lake (so low already!)
My terminus

I waited for about half an hour and then some nice people from Carlsbad who came to see the lake drove me to Bishop.

I’m back in the Hostel California for one more night, and then public transport home tomorrow!

It’s funny, I always imagined that I would be sad if I didn’t make it to Canada. But I’ve never been happier. I think I finally let go of the judgement I thought I would feel from others (and myself!) and instead I embraced fully the meaning of “hike your own hike.”

As I write this tears are streaming down my cheeks. What a wonderful life I have had the accident of living. And now I get to go home and see my friends, my wonderful parents, my beautiful sons, and my lovely wife.

Today’s Hike-U:

Journey’s End: Just the Beginning
We hike our own hike
Sometimes in fear of ourselves
And then we let go

29 Comments Add yours

  1. zozozoom says:

    A beautiful ending to an amazing adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LauriEsss says:

    Wooohoooo!! “Hike your own hike” words to live by. Congratulations on an amazing journey. Thank you for taking me along for the ride. So much to talk about, back at home💖

    Liked by 1 person

  3. P says:

    Thanks for taking us along! In the next few years when you do approach the PCT midpoint, we’ll be there with a cold beer to celebrate. We’ve got it on ice now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks my friend!

      Like

  4. Peggy says:

    Your journey was accomplished and you followed your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing all this. A journey in many ways, congratulations and well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Let’s beer soon!

      Like

  6. Dan B. says:

    HYOH for sure! But I have to admit, there’s a selfish part of me that wanted you to get to Canada. I was going to do the PCT in 2020, but didn’t because, you know, and decided to delay until 2022. I found your site through Trailjourrnals and was enjoying your blog, and learning so much. I’ve read, or tried to read, many PCT blogs/journals, and yours is right up there with Wired’s in the level of clarity, readability, and useful details, and your pics really tell the story so well. You made the decision that was best for you, but I am going to miss not reading about the next 1,800 miles. Oh well, because I am also in San Diego, maybe I’ll learn from your posts about more local hikes I haven’t done yet. I’m sure it won’t be long before your shoes are covered in dust again. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      What a kind comparison — I love Wired! Would be fun to grab a beer some time to hear about your own plans. I’m JimmyJamHikes on the jee male.

      Like

  7. 100peaks says:

    Bravo. Let me know when you’re around for that beer. Weekdays are best. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Monique Holtkamp says:

    50 days and over 800 miles, what an incredible adventure! I very much enjoyed reading your daily blog, it was my nightly bedtime story … the photos got more and more beautiful as you were hiking in the high Sierra and your last day over Bishop Pass brought back such good memories of last year! I will miss your blog but I love your saying “hike your own hike” – so true and the fact that you are heading home is a testament to the deep love for your wife and your family and that’s beautiful. I have a feeling though you will be back on the PCT soon, maybe for another long section hike?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks Monique! Yes, maybe Washington later this year….

      Like

  9. Arthur Kleven says:

    “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you may be off to.”
    What an amazing journey you had, JimmyJam, thanks for taking all of us along. I’m awed, and am looking forward to your next one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks Art! Can’t wait until our next trip together….

      Like

  10. Jay Harrison says:

    JimmyJam, I have certainly enjoyed your adventures and discoveries. I suspect they are not over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks, and I hope they are just beginning!

      Like

  11. Pat says:

    JimmyJam – I’ve looked forward to your PCT post each day and have loved the commentary & photos. I’m not a hiker, just extremely fascinated with PCT. While I’m sad I no longer have the pleasure of reading your posts every few days, I’m beyond impressed with your positive attitude and ” hike your own hike ” mantra. Best of luck and thanks for the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks so much! I plan to get back on trail in August to do the Washington section if you want to follow along then.

      Like

  12. Rockit Man says:

    Congratulations! Hopefully there will be new inspiring hikes to come and follow along with.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congrats! I hope you made it home safe and sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks – can’t wait to see you again!

      Like

  14. Marcia Powers says:

    Hey, JimmyJam, I am late to the trek but have the pleasure ahead of me of reading your blog. Thank you. Well done on your hike.
    I saw some of your lovely flower pix and was impressed that you identified them. Do you use a plant identifier app, and if so which one.
    I wish that Half Cookie had hiked with you this time but maybe another time. Perhaps she would be interested in reading “Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails” by Susan Alcorn.
    Wishing you both many happy trails.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      We will check that book out! I use iNaturalist for the flower IDs.

      Like

  15. John Fowler says:

    Great going kid!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks! Half Cookie and I want to come see you guys soon!

      Like

  16. Thank you for sharing your adventure, I’ve really enjoyed the read on my morning commute! Good luck with whatever is ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

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