over Bishop Pass


High Sierras — Today we make a big push over the top of Bishop Pass – about a
3200-foot climb from bottom to top.

On the way up there are beautiful junipers, one with a trunk
about 8 feet across. Another one dead, jutting out to the sky like a
ship’s prow, black underneath, bleached white on top, with bright
green deer moss.

I see a mother grouse, chipmunks, marmots, a bird with white body and
black wings (update: probably a Clark’s Nutcracker – Nucifraga
columbiana

… or here
). A deer bounds away from us as we stop for a break.

It makes me laugh, seeing all these animals. Their very existence here
deflates my ego. They simply go about their lives while I huff and
puff by, so proud of myself for getting up a mountain. I feel a
little sheepish, a little ridiculous – not so proud any more, but
happier, and I laugh again just to be there with them.

After lunch there are a few short lines of clouds that look almost
like letters, but I can’t read them. The wind stretches the letters
into gaping heads – screaming demons, and despite the heat I feel a
slight chill – before they evaporate into the haze.

At the very top of the pass, in 50+ mph winds, a swallow swoops past in
effortless aerobatics.

Then a steep, rocky climb down. We could still see the fresh-split
rock where they had blasted a new trail a few days before after a rock
slide. I wonder how they know the trail is stable.

Our camp is above Bishop Lake, so turquoise it might be tropical,
except for the snowbank on the opposite shore.