Hiking the Sierras, Paiute Pass

There are so many places to hike in the Eastern Sierras, one hardly knows where to begin. I have several posts worth of photos of recent hikes and thought about lumping them together. But each hike has its own rewards, so I promise not to bore you with too many photos of the ‘same’ thing. Who knows how far ‘Hiking the Sierras’ will go? Then, there will be ‘Hiking the Whites’ too, since they are a much different mountain ridge, more bare rock and far fewer trees. One of the reasons to hike this time of year, is that the higher elevations are usually 20° or more cooler than the valley and that means a lot when the temps are hovering around 98°F or 36.6°C in the valley.

Jeffrey Shooting Star
Jeffrey Shooting Star

The Jeffrey Shooting Star looks a lot like an orchid; there were many on both sides of the trail leading to (eventually) the Paiute Pass which looks over the first mountain range and into the backcountry. I didn’t make it that far. The trail’s total elevation gain is 2,300′, starting at 9,300′, but part way up the scree slope right before Loch Leven (probably at 1,600′ elevation from the trailhead), my legs were getting weary and the day was passing into evening. Little did I realize that another 300 yards would have gotten me to level footing and the first lake. I will have to do the trail again and start earlier in the day. A little note in the hiking trail book was their mention of two wooden bridges. Silly me was expecting a couple real bridges, here’s what I found:

The first bridge
The first bridge
The second bridge
The second bridge

Thankfully, I had walked many rafters in our barn as a child and I was OK with crossing the ‘bridges’. The water was icy cold since the snow was still melting from the tops of the mountains, so bare footing it across the north fork of Bishop Creek wasn’t an option for me, plus it was fast moving water.

Parts of the path were pure granite.
Parts of the path were pure granite. There are steps going higher up the trail near the evergreen in the center of the photo.

The brown/orange mountains on the right above are the Paiute Crags. The photo below looks south toward Mount Emerson.

Waterfalls from Loch Leven
Waterfalls from Loch Leven. I would have eventually reached the snowfield above the falls.

I videoed this falls, but didn’t think it warranted space here – more practice needed. There was a granite rock that made a nice bench, allowing rest for the legs while listening to the birds and rushing water. The falls was about 200 yards away, it was warm, I could have sat there for a long while! Since I had decided to not go any further, I started back down the trail.

As I was taking yet another photo of the beautiful wildflowers (Indian Paintbrush this time), I met a couple on the trail. We began chatting and I finally had to say “I have to apologize for staring, but you look just like my son Chris.” He said, “My name is Chris!” He took his sunglasses off and he had blue eyes like my son. He and his wife Tina were from Orange County. I commented that my other son Andy lives in San Diego. He said, “I have a brother named Andy!” Such coincidences!

Of course going back down was much easier than climbing. The creek paralled the trail in many spots, making an enjoyable accompaniment to the wind in the trees and the birds.  More trails later!

6 Replies to “Hiking the Sierras, Paiute Pass”

    1. It was a great hike and even though I was carrying my 16 lb pack of camera equipment, traversing the bridges was no problem! Because of that pack though, I was worn out! I keep telling myself about losing 15 lbs, then the pack wouldn’t be as hard. 😉


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