TR: Bishop Pass to Kearsarge Pass 6/27-7/2
- Report from the trail, as I've finally finished the JMT after 4 section hikes over last 5 years.
6/27 - Drove to Independence from Reno, arrived 12:30 PM. Transport (Robert Wennis from http://www.mtwhitneyshuttle.com/ waiting as contracted). Caravan'ed to Onion Vally then transported to South Lake. Hit Trail approx 2:30. Over Bishop pass approx 5:30. Tough hike up, about 10 steps of snow. Lots of water prior to pass, but didn't touch it till just before the switchbacks. Camped appox 500 VF below pass. Really nice site in Dusy Basin. Good water, lots of bugs. Great ground score of new pocket knife, which almost made up for other group camping 100 yards up hill from us, even though they could choose any place in Dusy Basin.
6/28 - Dusy Basin to Deer Meadow. Nice hike, plenty of water, no major challenges. Camped just shy of Deer Meadow. Found a great swimming spot about 1M before Deer Meadow. Thunderstorms at approx 5 PM. Site in middle of Ponderosa Field. Very Buggy.
6/29 - Over Mather Pass. 3200 VF up! Long day. Super exposed. Not much water for last couple miles. Long Day. More thunder in late afternoon. Light Hail around 4 PM. Not many great campgrounds south of Mather. Found a decent one along trail. Buggy again.
6/30 - Over Pinchot Pass. Pretty easy pass. Found a nice (but well used) site just below the 10k elevation sign. 2 min walk to water, but nice swimming spot. Super buggy.
7/1 - To Rae lakes. Camped just off the 60 lakes trail on far side of Rae Lakes. Plenty of water going up. Limited water near camp sites around Ranger Station. Kid at camp site next to me pulled in 20+ fish (and gave me a few for dinner). The view back down the valley from around Dollar lake is as good as any on the JMT (my other fav from Silver pass or was it over lake Virginia?). Highlight of the day was watching a crew of PCTers user their sleeping mattresses as mini rafts down the stream into a swimming pool about 1m before reaching the suspension bridge near South Fork bridge trail.
7/2 - Over Glenn pass and Kearsarge pass into Onion Valley. Glenn pass pretty easy. Limited water on North side of pass. Contrary to Rae Lakes Ranger's report, there was plenty of running water on South side of the pass. Its a pretty easy pass, with the last 500 vf pretty steep. Kearsarge pass pretty gentle with just a couple switch backs near the top. Great views towards Bull frog and other lakes. Hike down to Onion valley lots of Down, but gentle. Water sources questionable because of influx of day hikers. I drank some near Gilbert Lake (no issues), but I was questioning it. Caused other group member to use iodine for first time all week. Got to car around 4 PM, cooled off warm beers in bear box full of pumped water (gave one to Dad of Rae Lakes fisher). Grabbed a tasty dinner of Ribs, Onion Rings, Salad, and 3 Sierra Nevada's at Mt Whitney Cafe (?) in Lone Pine.
Final thoughts: The bugs were out in force all week, and it was hot. No actual numbers but I don't think it went below 40 degrees all week at night. There was plenty of water, but would be concerned for JMT'ers in Sept. No wet crossing on this section, and only stepped on snow on Bishop pass and a couple steps near Mather and Kearsarge - a non issue. Smaller streams on maps were SMALL. The PCTers should be almost gone by now, as we caught what we thought to be the end of them. They are an interesting tribe.