December 20, 2017

Highway 395 Eastern Sierra Wonderland

"Let me drink from the waters where the mountain streams flood. 
Let the smell of the wildflowers flow free through my blood. 
Let me sleep in your meadows with the green grassy leaves. 
Let me walk down the highway with my brother in peace. 
Let me die in my footsteps before I go down under the ground."
Bob Dylan
When you are a mountain man you understand the brilliance and beauty of contradiction. These granite peaks can be my greatest teachers. How can these magnificent pinnacles be so grounding, yet so elevating, intoxicating, yet so soothing, wild, yet serene, primal, yet patient during their shifts and rhythms? These mountains always keep me on edge, but also provides me a sensation of safety. How many times have I heard the wind call and know that somewhere within these mountains I have found my answers that I was looking for? The pull of the horizon overcomes the paralysis of reason...and you just have to go. I now have a partner who never wants to stop seeking new horizons.

A short rewind here, as we skipped a travel experience in lieu of the previous post. It was the evening we returned from this particular trip that Kiah decided to attempt her "Super Dog" stunt.
Bishop Creek
For a few months, we had tentatively planned to spend a couple weeks exploring one of our favorite routes, the Highway 395 corridor, immerse ourselves in the rugged scenery, be mesmerized by the brilliant fall colors and float a few flies down our favorite streams. I love landscapes that make me realize how small, yet significant, my life is in relation to the vastness of nature. Raw...with no filters.

On this particular trip we decided to try an expedition without the toad, our Honda CRV, and see how comfortable a trip would be with only WeBeGon. Our rig is so small and easy to drive, handle, and park, that we felt it would be no hassle at all leaving our campground to do some exploring. We were right!
Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail
our perfect campsite perch
Our first stop was Lone Pine Campground. During previous camping trips among the Alabama Hills, we had driven through this campground a few times and loved the location and spectacular views. And now that we have such a short rig, we were able to park in almost any site. The Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail begins at the west end of the campground. Every morning and evening Imkelina was up on the trailhead admiring the spectacular sunrises and sunsets...while I watched over our campsite from the "perch"...which offered some pretty fair mountain views. The hike up to Whitney Portal would be a fun goal for a future trip!
beautiful Lake Sabrina
trout stream flowing through Bishop Park Campground
We next headed to one of our favorite areas in the John Muir Wilderness, the Sabrina Basin. We had no plans this trip to hike the trail up to a wonderland of gorgeous lakes, but we have many times in the past, and they are as stunning as they are beautiful. How can they not? Lake Sabrina, Blue Lake, Dingleberry and Midnight Lake sit amid glacial scoured basins, reflecting off their clear surface, a sea of jagged granite peaks that surround them. We stopped here to fish Bishop Creek.
I have been fishing Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek and Intake 2 for the  last 50 years, but each homecoming to these mountains brings the same amount of joy and excitement as it was the first time. This visit would be the first time to experiment with my new Tenkara fly rod. And a successful tryout it was, as I caught and released some beautiful pan size rainbows with this special rod. Tenkara is a traditional type of fishing practiced in Japan using only a rod, line and a fly (similar to using the long bamboo pole my dad gave me when I was a kid). Tenkara has been used for hundreds of years to fish for trout and char in small, high mountain streams. Tenkara was largely unknown outside Japan until 2009, when this style of fishing was introduced in the United States. My appeal of Tenkara is it's elegant simplicity, the lightness of the line, the need for delicate presentations and the precise control you have to manipulate your fly. My rod (now Imkelina's) is a beautiful piece of art and the entire fishing outfit will fit easily into our day pack. I also choose to use only the traditional Japanese made fly lines and flies. And for Imkelina, fly fishing this way appeals to the meditative feeling of quietly dropping into the stream.
And over the course of the last twenty years, Imkelina has embraced the Sierras...or their power and magnificence have slowly bewitched her to be one with them. She often tells me that her love of the ocean is due to the expansive energy she feels when she's by the sea. But the mountains bring her a feeling of limitless power as they reach for the sky. I'd say that she'd be quite content living between the two. One of her favorite treats is eating a piece of Patty's homemade pie on the deck of the Lake Sabrina Boat Landing and Cafe. We love the glittering views of the lake and how the imposing peaks reflect upon it's clear blue water. 
pull-through site at Sabrina Campground
Bishop Park Campground
early morning freeze
We camped at two campgrounds located right on the banks of Bishop Creek, Sabrina Campground and Bishop Park Campground.   Normally both these small campgrounds can be pretty popular due to their location and very hard to secure any site. But not this time of year. We had pretty cold evenings during our stay, with a couple of nights getting down to a brisk 17ยบ. And the location of our campsites, were optimal. Being so close to the creek, we had our choice of access points to some pretty nice water...and over most of our stay, our campsite were pretty isolated, offering privacy and some quiet evenings.
Only the mountains beckon me to walk deeper and deeper into their magical kingdoms of beauty, as I want to know, feel and become more. These peaks have alway been my cathedrals, it is where I practice my religion of existence. Over the years, I have chased angels among their pinnacles and fled my demons through their valleys. Today, as I share the mountains with Imkelina, I find only comfort, peace and nourishment. I yearn for them now...

At Waypoint 37.2072689 -118.6186