Backpacking Walker Lake


With what was hopefully one of the final snow storms of the season blanketing the Eastern Sierra two weeks ago, I was forced to reschedule my first backpacking trip of the year. This weekend brought beautiful weather with clear skies and moderate temperatures. The plan was to hike up the Mono Pass trail, also known as Bloody Canyon, to just past Walker Lake.

Trip Details:

Date Range – May 19-21
Campground – Bishop Park and Ansel Adams Wilderness
Distance – 332 miles
Closest Town – June Lake, CA

We decided that it would be best to drive an extra hour north to find a campsite, rather than stop in one of the usual Friday night spots near Lone Pine. Since our final destination was just off the June Lake Loop, we stayed in Bishop Park Campground for a shorter drive on Saturday. We arrived a little after sunset and managed to snag the final spot. At about 8,400 feet elevation, coupled with a waning crescent moon, we saw some more amazing views of the night sky.

Morning Reflections on Lake Sabrina

After packing up in the morning, we made a quick stop at the nearby Lake Sabrina. The water level was pretty low, but before too long the snowmelt will fill it up. We picked up the wilderness permit in Bishop and headed north towards June Lake Loop.

Mono Pass trailhead is off Parker Lake Road, a long and winding dirt road that climbs the ridge of Bloody Canyon. The hike in was pretty easy, with immediate views looking down towards Walker Lake. We hikes about 3 miles towards Lower Sardine Lake, but had to backtrack because of too much snow covering the trail.

Walker Lake looking west towards Mono Pass

We backtracked for a little less than a mile to set up camp near a creek and grove of aspen trees. I was a little worried about sleeping in a hammock without a bug net this close to a creek, but it wasn’t too bad.

After setting up camp I fished at Walker Lake for about an hour, with no luck. However, back at camp the creek was filled with large rainbow trout, all seemingly over a foot in length. I caught one post-dinner, which made for a nice dessert after some rice and tuna.

California Ghost Town of Bodie

After a grueling hike back up the ridge in the morning, we headed north along Highway 395 to visit the ghost town at Bodie State Historic Park. Bodie was built in the mountains during the California Gold Rush of the 1800’s, but collapsed after the gold was gone.

Upper Twin Lake

We stopped for lunch in Bridgeport after the trip to Bodie, with Twin Lakes as the next stop on our itinerary. We had visited Twin Lakes almost exactly a year prior, but because of the heavy snow this winter we were treated with more snow on the mountain peaks.

Milky Way views from Bishop Park Campground

Even at only one night in the wilderness on a short weekend, the first backpacking trip of the year was a success. It’s always great to hike a new trail in the Eastern Sierra, and we were one of two parties on the entire trail that day.

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