Eastern Sierra: Day 3 – Loch Leven
I woke up on day three expecting to be in pain from the day before, but to my surprise, I felt fine…I felt great, actually!
I got up and started to break camp. I took the tent apart and laid it out across one half of the bear box and laid my sleeping bag across the other to air out. I folded up the tent poles and put them in their stuff sack and then moved to my clothes. After I got everything packed that I could, I went down and filled up my Camelbak. North Lake doesn’t have showers…but they do have restrooms, and that was my next stop.
I got back to camp and sat down for a few. I did a quick, self-check. No blisters, cuts, or scrapes, and I wasn’t sore. My head didn’t hurt and I was breathing fine, which meant, in all likelihood, that the altitude wasn’t going to bother me; Looks like the two days spent at North Lake was paying off.
I looked at the map again and found Loch Leven – that would be my endpoint today. That was about 3.5 miles away…all uphill. Nice easy day…on paper.
On that note, I finished packing the tent and sleeping bag and was ready to leave by around 9. I put the pack on and cinched it down, pointed myself in the direction I needed to go and started putting one foot in front of the other.
This was a different trail than yesterday, I would take the Piute Pass trail today and the scenery was even more amazing!
It was the third week in September and the colors were just starting to change; there were yellows and a few reds at the lower elevations. The sky was clear, dark blue and the sun was shining bright.
The first part of the trail climbs through the woods and crosses Bishop Creek a few times. In most places, there were logs to walk across, but not all.
As the trail clears the tree line, it follows alongside and past the Piute Crags, continuing up. The Crags are a pretty cool sight if you haven’t seen them before .Their orange-ish color with green trees and blue sky made for some nice pictures.
Some of the trees were very unique in the way that their branches grew…again, it seemed like I was taking a picture after every other step.
After passing the Crags, the trail continues up. I took a lot of pics looking back to mark my progress.
One thing I was eternally grateful for was that even though I was fatigued, I didn’t ache anywhere. The pack wasn’t cutting or biting, my thighs were not burning like yesterday, no issues with the feet or boots…and no altitude sickness! The trail was much steeper and the pack was a little heavier today, but I wasn’t trying to win a race and there wasn’t anyone else on the trail, so I just took my time.
North Lake to Piute Lake is a pretty well traveled path. Although it’s not ‘easy’, lots of weekenders come to do their things and it does see a lot of traffic. Today, I hadn’t seen anyone.
While I was camped at North Lake, I saw quite a few people heading up the trails in the morning, and returning in the evening, but one could tell by what they were carrying that they were all day hikers. There were a few hikers that were returning from trips the day before, but I didn’t see anyone else leaving from North Lake on what looked like a longer trip.
It really isn’t until you go over Piute Pass that you ‘leave civilization’. The weekend campers don’t usually venture out past Piute Lake. From North Lake over Piute Pass in one day would be a pretty tall order for most.
I would be stopping at Loch Leven today and continuing to Piute Lake tomorrow, and then I would head over Piute Pass the next day.
I was getting closer to the saddle that would lead me over and down to the lake…I was almost there.
Once at the saddle, I stood and looked back. Wow.
I worked my way down to the lake and started looking for a place to set up. I found a spot and cleared some rocks away, and then got to work. It didn’t take long to get the tent up, and then I ate and walked around taking some pictures.
It had been a great day. I was embracing the solitude…I hadn’t said or heard one word all day.