We did not sleep well at all. The wind really went crazy, charging around the peaks like a locomotive and then down around our campsite. I never felt like the tent was actually going to take off, but it was definitely noisy. Plus, it was much colder than we had expected. At around 6 am we both got up because we couldn’t stand “holding it” any longer. We hurried back into the tent and into our sleeping bags to try to warm up again, wondering what we should do now that we were wide awake, but the sun wasn’t due to rise for another half hour at least. We fell asleep shortly after that, and didn’t wake up until after 8 am. That was probably the best sleep we got all night.
Around 8:30 am we roused ourselves and got dressed. I got out of the tent and walked over to the lake, to the nearest sunny spot. It was much warmer in the sun, though still chilly. We made some tea and had peanut butter on bagels for breakfast.
We also discussed our plans. Originally we had thought we would hike most of the way back on Saturday, find a place to camp at Lake Sabrina, then hike the rest of the way out on Sunday. However, we hadn’t seen any places to camp near Lake Sabrina – the slope that the trail cut across was very steep, and there weren’t any flat spots on which to pitch a tent. The nearest place to camp was Blue Lake, which was about halfway back. That didn’t seem close enough to be an easy hike out the next day. There was also a campground near where our car was parked, but there had been a “Road Closed” gate at the entrance, so we weren’t sure the campground was open. Finally, with the wind and the overnight temperatures, we weren’t sure we really wanted to sleep outdoors another night. We decided to hike all the way out, and then drive back to Bishop and see if we could get a room in the hotel where we spent Thursday night.
Feeling good about our decision, we broke camp around 10 am, put everything back in our packs, and pumped some more water for our trip out. By 10:30 am we were ready to go, and scaled back up the slope to the main trail. We paused to catch our breath and to take a last look at the lake and the amazing surrounding peaks. It was definitely worth the previous strenuous day’s hike – this is not something you can just drive to, get out of your car, and snap a picture.
We hadn’t been on the trail for more than five minutes when the two guys from yesterday came hiking toward us. “Hey, you guys!” Dave greeted them. It’s funny to have trail friends, whose names you never even know. They were impressed with us for making it all the way to Dingleberry; they had ended up camping at Emerald Lakes. They said there was another group camping there as well, who had actually brought beer in their packs and were rather rowdy. They said that the other group didn’t share their beer with them, so they didn’t share their fish. *smile*
The trail was much more populated than it had been the day before. We hadn’t even reached Emerald Lakes yet when we ran into a couple probably around our age with a woman who was probably the mother of one of them. We chatted with them for a few minutes, telling them about Dingleberry Lake, where they were headed. Not much later, we passed a grizzled older man with two small dogs. He looked like he was carrying a backpack on top of his backpack – all the stuff piled on his back made him twice as tall. “We are wimps,” commented Dave.
Although we were still experiencing some altitude fatigue while hiking during the morning, going downhill was markedly easier. We made it to Emerald Lakes in just over a half hour, and were at Blue Lake by 11:45 am. We stopped here for a snack break, and to admire the view. The wind was causing quite a ripple effect on the lake, so the reflection wasn’t what it had been the day before, and neither was the temperature.
We headed down the slope from Blue Lake, saying goodbye to the snow at our feet, and north toward Lake Sabrina. At quarter to 1, we caught our first sight of Lake Sabrina. It was a great feeling. From here on, the wind was much less intense, and the temperatures warmed up significantly. We also passed quite a few more people on the trail. We assured them that it would be much easier coming back. Some of them seemed very winded by the climb, as I had been the day before. I don’t know if it was because we were finally acclimatized to the altitude, or because we had come down 1,000 feet in elevation, or because we’d been going downhill for 3 hours instead of up… but we were finally feeling like we could take full breaths and hike without having to stop every few yards.
Just past the trail to George Lake (remember, 1.5 miles left to go!) we stopped under some pine trees and ate more salami & crackers, dried fruit, and trail mix for lunch. We passed a few more people on the trail, including a woman who had one of those baby backpacks with a little girl who was probably around a year old.
Of course, once we got to the trailhead, there was nobody there to take our picture! So, we continued up the paved road. A little bit down the road was a bridge over a creek, and there was a woman taking photos of the waterfall. We asked her to take a couple of photos of us, which she seemed more than thrilled to do for us. Then we continued hiking up the road, and finally reached our car around 3 pm. Hooray!
We drove back out Hwy 168 and into Bishop. As we turned north onto Main Street (which is also Hwy 395) we noticed that there was a steady stream of classic cars on the southbound side. We remembered yet again that there was a classic car show going on this weekend. The streets were lined with Bishop residents, watching the cars go by and waving at them. We parked at a gas station for a few minutes and watched them, until we realized that we had no idea how long it would go on for.
As I thought about the situation for a moment, I had a sneaking suspicion that this would turn out to have a negative impact on our plans. Sure enough, we went back to the Elms Motel and found a No Vacancy sign on the front door! We drove to a couple of the other reasonable-looking motels, and they all had No Vacancy signs as well. It seems the classic car folks had booked up all the rooms in town.
So, we ditched Bishop around 3:45 pm and started heading south. We figured we’d find a reasonably priced room in Lone Pine, about an hour south. It wasn’t long before we started to feel the groove of the road, though, and we figured, why stop in Lone Pine if we can make it all the way to Southern California tonight?
Instead of trying to do 350 miles in one night (we had enough of that on Thursday), we called my Aunt Kathleen in Upland (at the foot of the San Bernadino Mountains) to see if she would mind if we crashed there. Of course she told us we were completely welcome, and in fact my Aunt Karen and her family were coming over for dinner.
It took us longer than we expected to get there (due to some slow traffic on 2-lane, No Passing Zone sections of Hwy 395), but we managed to get there around 8 pm. It was a nice change from the wilderness, having someone serve us dinner, and sleeping on comfy sofas.
The next morning, we had some muffins, then hurried out of the house to meet Karen and Phil for church in Colton. It was a really great church and we enjoyed the service and the sermon. Then we headed home and were so happy to see sunny, warm San Diego.