August 21, 2012 –Sapphire Lake to mystery lake on Bishop PassMileage: 15 Elevation: 10,900 feet
|Muir Hut on Muir Pass|
Well, Bishop Pass is not on the JMT, but we will get to that later. This morning we rose early ready to attack Muir Pass. We were out of camp at 7 am and on the pass by 9. We had beautiful weather with great views of rocky peaks and stark expanses. Muir Pass has a cool rock hut built in John Muir’s name to shelter hikers who get caught in storms. It has stone benches, a mantle, and fireplace that is “plugged” with rock. Where in the world would they get wood for a fire anyway?
We began our descent over steep rock through canyons and waterfalls. A very special beauty here, with very tedious hiking. We ate lunch with Mary and Justin and planned our next camp. Mather Pass is a long ways! Later, during the descent Don and I soaked our feet in a delicious rushing stream. We walked by a campsite with a huge rock that someone had added eyes and pointed teeth to, creating a whale sculpture. There were chairs formed with rocks with arms and backs around a campfire circle …very clever.
Well rested, we continued on down the trail. Suddenly I heard a huge noise! I turned around and ran back up the trail. Don had tripped and fallen, he was in terrible pain. I had no idea what had happened. I screamed for help, feeling very much in the middle of nowhere. I also blew my distress whistle. Within two minutes people came running. There was a Conservation Corps group working on the trail below us. First person there was an EMT…I was so relieved.
When we got Don settled we realized he had a badly dislocated middle finger. There was a ranger station one mile down the trail. Lilia, a young woman from the corps helped carry Don’s pack and we walked to the station. At this point we fully intended to continue hiking after the ranger “popped” his finger back in place. During the walk down, Don realized he no longer had the camera. Lilia was going back up to the work area after she brought us to the ranger station and she promised to look for the camera.
At Le Conte Station, Ranger George Durkee spoke with Don about his injury and radioed a hospital in Fresno for advice on how to proceed. They agreed that if the ranger could reset the finger we could continue. Don wanted to face this procedure and not worry about me, so I walked back up the trail to search for the camera. Upon my return Don gave thumbs down. After many tries and radio help from a physician they were unable to reset the finger. Don and I were told we had to get to a hospital within 30 hours or there could be permanent tendon damage. We were BROKEN HEARTED.
Bishop Pass is six miles above the ranger station at 12000 feet. Then 6 miles below the pass is the trailhead. Beyond that is a 21 mile drive to Bishop, the nearest hospital. It was 4:30 pm. Don and I set out to climb half way up the pass to a little no name lake to camp. This would put us in Bishop tomorrow, if all went well. The trail took us straight up from the 8900 foot level of the ranger station to our campsite at 10,900 feet! It was a huge hike after a very emotional day. Lilia had returned with our camera! We left some food and a bear barrel at the station to lighten Don’s load. They will mail those back to us in the fall. So this night we are camping at a beautiful lofty campsite on a ledge high up on Bishop Pass for a quick exit out of the Sierra’s tomorrow. It was a super sad day!