BHS 100K

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

Friday, September 21, 2012

JMT Day 5 - Crater Creek to Purple Lake

Wednesday, July 4th  

                It got pretty cold last night, probably down into the 30’s but I am only guessing as I don’t actually have a thermometer out here.   I didn’t actually see any frozen water around so I suppose it didn’t freeze.  We are camped at 9,000 feet so I am able to start a fire to cook breakfast and put coffee on.  Fires are permitted in the wilderness below 10,000 feet in what is considered the sub-alpine region but not above 10,000 feet in the alpine region.  It seems counter intuitive because there is a lot more forest to burn at the lower elevation and actually a greater risk of forest fire.  The reason for the fire restriction in the alpine region is because it is so slow growing and fragile.  The trees are sparser, shorter and there is not much organic material from wood or needles on the ground to decay into soil.  Ancient stunted “kroummholz trees” like Foxtail and Western White Pines in the alpine zone clutch into rocky crags searching for the thin soil while the unrelenting icy winds twist their trunks and branches into bizarre postures.  It’s a tough existence and if the NFS allowed people to gather and burn wood that should be left to decay, the ecosystem could not handle it.  The first miners who traveled into the area did just that and there remain barren passes that are still trying to recover over 100 years later.
Fos tail pines - Image taken from

                Despite the mornings being rather cool, it is a time of day that I really take advantage off.  I’ll either start a fire or use my cook stove to boil water for my coffee and cracked wheat breakfast.  Then I’ll keep warm moving around from place to place, never to far from my fire, looking for photographic opportunities in the early morning light.  There is always a need to walk down to the creek to haul up water for cooking, washing and putting out the fire.  In fact, it’s the moving around that does most of my warming and not the standing by a fire.   Think about it, the animals manage to stay warm and they don’t have a fire.  They have fur, but I bet you its movement that keeps them warm more than anything else.  Mom, use to say to me when I came home in after delivering newspapers in the middle of winter in Winnipeg, Canada almost crying from the cold that, “you will just have to move faster next time.”  She was right.  I am starting to notice that all this extra work that I need to do for myself is beginning to strip life bare.  I don’t have all those modern conveniences out here that we take for granted – and I am not talking Iphone 5'sand such but really basic things like four walls and a roof, a central heating system with a thermostat, running water with a sink, a shower and a toilet- which reminds me, it’s time to go and dig that hole again.  Have you ever tried digging a six inch hole into the hard packed, root encrusted soil mired in the rocks of the Sierra’s with a hiking pole?  If that doesn’t warm you up in the morning, nothing will.

An hour after the break of dawn, Matt begins to stir around his tent and we talk a bit.  I’m still munching on breakfast and jotting down some notes in my journal.  If he is planning to finish the 218 miles in 2 weeks, he needs to average more than fifteen miles a day so he doesn’t waste much time before he gets going.  He’s young, got place to go and thinks to do, while I on the other hand can afford the luxury of taking the slow road and savoring all the flavors of these pristine wilds.  Looking up at the sky we notice high clouds rolling in and we wonder if rain is coming in as he swings on his backpack and I wish him well and he ventures off for the trail. 
View south of Crater Creek towards Pumice butte and Devil's Top
I start hiking around 9:00AM.  The trail gradient is mild at this point following the contours of the mountains around 9,000 feet for about two miles until I come to Deer Creek crossing.  This creek is full of trout. I don’t see anything much bigger than six inches, yet I bet there are bigger ones out there lurking if I would spend the time hunting for them.  I just started the days hike though and the trail pulls me onwards.  After Deer Creek the trail climbs again, up over 10,000 feet and the five and a half miles to Duck creek is slow going and takes me about three hours.  At the creek crossing I meet a man and his son who are hiking to Duck Lake.  His name is Michael and I learn that he is an expatriate form Australia and a professor at University of California.  He picks up that I have a accent too and learns that I am an expat from Canada.  His son too is entering college this year and Michael is already talking about his plans to buy some property in the Pyrenees of Northern Spain when his son graduates.  His goal is to live out there half of the year where he would still be able to teach on-line.   I am meeting some very interesting people out here on this trip and we all have some lunch together enjoying the sights and sounds of the rushing creek in the warm midday sunshine.  It does not look like it will rain today.  
Duck Creek Crossing - Happier than a duck in water, but what is that on my head?

After Duck creek the trail climbs some more and at 10,400 feet I can see that I am in the high alpine zone now when I start to identify White Bark Pine.  (Thank-you Pacific coast tree Finder Guide by Tom Watts.)  I am also starting to get use to the elevation a bit now yet hiking up here is still slow going.  A am averaging little more than one mile per hour now as it takes me a couple more hours or so to make the 2.3 miles to Purple Lake.  Still, it’s only early afternoon but I fell that I have hiked far enough for the day and I start looking for a good camping spot.  I meet a PCT hiker heading north who has just finished some lunch by the lake and plans to make it to Red’s Meadow before dark, 14 miles away.  Those guys sure know how to pile on the miles.  He makes reference to my backpack saying “that sure is some Cadillac you are carrying.”  You see what I am saying about how these PCT guys go around judging?  I know that he is in it for speed and distance so his gear is all ultra-light and high tech.  However, my goal is very different as I am out here to take my time and enjoy it – “to soak it in” so to say.  I want to be carrying everything I possibly can, to do the things I want to do and have whatever comforts I can carry out here in the process.  From now on whenever someone mentioned anything about my “Cadillac,” I will ask them if they ever heard of a blues singer named Howlin’ Wolf.  He use to sing a tune called “Built for Comfort Not for Speed,” and I tell them that’s me.
My first view of Purple Lake
Puple Lake and unnamed 11,400 foot peak

There is a spur trail that goes up goes up the northwest side of Purple Lake that was partially blocked with blow down trees.  I weave my way up that way and found myself a perfectly secluded site off of the trail and decided to spend the night there.  Best camping spot yet – every day is the best day.  The lake proved fruitful too as I caught 3 beautiful twelve inch Golden Trout with the same lure I used earlier in Lyle Creek.  I fried them up for dinner and I swear they were the best tasting fish I ever had.  There meat is a rich red color almost as deep as a Salmon and they flesh stay firm and full of flavor when cooked.  That night I fried them in some olive oil, but they taste great steamed in a little water too.
A real good fishing spot

Well, these are more Rainbow Trout than Golden Trout looking as I first thought.  Later I would meet a NFS marine biologist that explained to me that much of the lake trout were now hybrids anyways.  Later on I will have some pictures of trout with the large dark spots and the red belly of those Golden Trout.

Home sweet home in the mountains

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