BHS 100K

Here is some video and pictures from the 2013 Bishop Ultramarathon. I completed the 100K in 14 hours 22 minutes.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 13 - Palisade Lake - Mather Pass - Bench Lake

Sunrise on Lower Palisade Lake from my early morning perch

Thursday, July 12
I feel like singing, “I’m so happy, I could cry.”  It is just that it is sublimely beautiful out here.  Right now, high up in the mountains overlooking the peaceful morning rising on Palisade Lake, I am sitting on a granite ledge, feet dangling over the side enjoying breakfast I just finished cooking.  I even have a granite cup holder for my coffee between the slabs.  I managed to finish cooking that quinoa that was not opening for me last night.  I just boiled it some more with some dehydrated tomatoes and ghee and it has the consistency and taste of a rich tomato soup.
Yesterday, I met a marine biologist for the NFS, Jason, and we talked for a while.  He wanted to know how the fishing was and if I saw anything else interesting along the way.  After I gave him my fishing report, I told him of a an animal I spotted that I believed was a salamander although I wasn’t sure.   It wasn’t close to water that I could see and I didn’t get to observe it for very long before it scurried away from the trail.  It had grey green colored skin with dark spots and its skin did appear moist.  It had the long body and the tail of a salamander too and perhaps there was a nearby underwater spring that was keeping it moist.  We looked it up in my field guide and Jason said that it would me extremely rare, but it could have been a Mount Lyell Salamander and that would be useful information about the health of the forest.   In return he gave me a couple of hints on where there had been reports of 20 inch Golden Trout.  Both places that he told me about would require a side trip off of the JMT, so I saved them for future information and possible weekend trips and if anyone else is interested, post a comment and I will let you know.
The red berries at the tip are the pollen cones.  The squat purple cone is the female cone.  The open cone in the back is one that has been picked at by Jays.

The weather is still looking grey and we might get some rain before the day is done.  The first part of the day’s hike will take me over Mather Pass, at elevation 12,100 feet and about three miles away.  Before leaving I spot some Jay birds making noise and eating some berries out of the pine trees.  The red berries they are eating are actually the pollen cones of the white bark pine.  The female cones of this tree are squat and purple and easily fall apart and I get a couple of good pictures of these.

Hiking Down the south side of Mather Pass

On Top of Mather Pass.  that's upper Palisade Lake way sown in the distance

I feel strong hiking up Mather Pass, making it to the top in about 2 ½ hours.  However, on the way down after eating some lunch I start feeling faint.  I don’t know if it’s the weather, or I am just exhausted.  The first part coming down the pass is very steep and rocky and there are many spots of the trail that have been blocked by large boulders from landslides.  I had to scramble around these parts and a mule team would not be able to make it though.  I heard a few of these landslides booming from far off in the distance last night – there better not be any more now.  After a couple of miles of this though, the trail levels out and becomes a long gradual downhill that carries the South Fork of the King River though this wide glacial sculpt U-shaped valley.  If I get the right kind of pictures of these, I can have my students analyze the parabolas their cross sections form.  Keeping a medium pace along this trail, I slowly see it moving off to my left.  That is weird I say to myself as I take a few more steps.  Eventually, I come to my senses and realize that it is not the trail that has gone off course, but me as I am becoming dizzy and walking off of the trail.  It is time to take a break.  I hope that I am not getting sick, yet I don’t feel ill, just a little weak.  I know that I have lost some weight on this trip, because when I pinch the skin on my hip it feels thinner, so perhaps that is it.  It’s not paper thin yet, but getting there.  I highly recommend overnight backpacking though the mountains to lose weight.  It could be the elevation, but I should be acclimated to that by now.  I just stop and take more breaks as this feeling of fatigue continues throughout the day.  
Looking down the south side of Mather Pass

It sprinkled rain on and off the entire day and into the evening.  After about five miles the trail crosses the river and heads up the canyon wall to Bench Lake.  I was resting by the river contemplating that last mile of uphill climb ahead of me when another southbound hiker came by.  I talked with him for a few minutes before we headed up the hill together.  I was unable to keep up with him but I was glad to see him up top where he had scouted out some good campsites already.  The wind was blowing pretty hard by now too and we each lucky enough to get a site that was well shelter by White Bark Pines.  The fierce winds up here are constantly twisting these hardy trees which continue to grow even after they are blown over making awesome wind shelters.


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