Sierras pt3 - Sabrina Basin

It was a long climb up to the high country

Today we continued to explore the Sierras just to the west of Bishop. The trailhead was at Sabrina Lake, only about a half hour drive from our hotel. It's a reservoir but is still a pretty lake. We got an early start again and were on the trail by 8:20. It was another beautiful day. We were glad to see that this trail didn't start by descending. It began with an easy, mostly level hike around the end of the lake. This spot was a little more developed, with a boat launch and a very small cafe, store and bait shop. But only one or two boats were on the lake that early so it was peaceful.

Our destination for today was Blue Lake. Three miles each way with 1300 feet of elevation gain. A good workout but not unreasonable. The day before had been long and strenuous so we didn't want another epic. Although this trail wasn't real long it had a lot of elevation gain for the distance. After a level start it did a gradually rising traverse along the lake. At the far end of the lake the valley ended in a headwall and here the trail started to climb in earnest.

Blue Lake - worth it

We climbed slowly. We felt good even though yesterday had been a tough hike. I figured conservatively that it would take us till 10 am to reach the lake. But by 9:30 we had been climbing steadily and seemed to have made good progress. Sabrina Lake was far below. The top of the headwall didn't seem to be far above us. We figured that we would be at the lake in fifteen minutes. Wrong. It took us forty five minutes from that spot. We finally reached Blue Lake at 10:15. Not a great time for that distance but we weren't exactly in a race. We took our time. Even on our third day of hiking the altitude was slowing us down (we started at 9100 feet). It was cool, but less so than I would have expected for so early in the morning and so high. We were definitely sweating on the way up. That was a big hill. We passed one group of backpakcers on the way up with full packs going in for an overnight. They were even slower than us. We saw them much later after we had been to the lake and were going down. They were still on their way to the lake.

Sandy found a great spot to enjoy the view

When we finally reached the lake it was well worth it. We had to walk around the lake for about ten minutes till we found a great viewpoint. We perched on a granite dome twenty feet above the lake with a view across the water to the peaks of the Sierra crest. Fantastic. Fortunately the bugs weren't a problem here and we could stay as long as we liked and enjoy the view. That was a bit of surprise as on the way up they had been the worst of any of the hikes that we had done. Not bad but they were noticeable. I tallied my first three fly kills and first three mosquito kills of the trip on the way up. But the lake had a nice breeze and the bugs weren't in evidence. We took our time having a snack, taking pictures and enjoying the view. The trail continued farther and higher into the basin from Blue Lake. There are several more higher lakes that are also quite pretty according to the guidebook. But we decided that one spectacular lake was plenty to enjoy so when we were ready we headed down.

Enjoying lunch on the patio after a hard hike

The hike down was a lot easier than the hike up. On the way down we passed quite a few parties coming up. This was definitely the most people we had seen on any of our hikes. Don't know if it was the hike or if it was because it was a Saturday. Lots of backpackers were heading for the upper basin to camp. A beautiful area but I didn't envy them hauling full packs up that hill. When we reached the car we stowed our packs and went to check out the little building on the lakeshore at the end of the road. They did have a small cafe so we ordered lunch and ate on the patio. We had a great view of the lake and the hike we had just done.

It had been another excellent day in the mountains. Afterwards we did some shopping in Bishop. There is a good mountain shop in town and Sandy got some nice boots on sale while I got some hiking shorts. We had a good dinner at a Mexican restaraunt. While there we heard that a big wildfire in Big Pine had closed US395. Lots of the people in the restaraunt had been driving south but were stuck because of the road closure. I had thought about driving south and doing a hike near Kearsarge Pass. We would have been stuck with no way to get back to our hotel! It's better to be lucky than good.

After dinner I finished this post. I actually got all my posts up during the trip. Tonight we will pack and then head back to Boise. We should be able to get home in time to pick up Laney tomorrow evening.

Additional pictures

Early morning at Lake Sabrina as we start our hike