AsABat's Pacific Crest Trail - California Section H
Bishop Pass to Taboose Pass (Southbound)

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The Trip - Late July 1998

We knew it would be tough. We knew we would have long days, deep cold rivers to cross, and long steep snowfields to climb. But we all decided to face El Niņo head on and see what we could do. Participating in the Troop 651 trek this year were Crew Chief Mark, SPL Kevin, Chris, and Rauri, with SM John, ASM Richard, and Venture ASM Bill. Chuck and Kathy provided help with transportation.

Mather Pass - click for more photos The Venture crew started out camped in former Scoutmaster Vic's yard in Independence. On the drive to the trailhead the next day we could see on the mountains our snowy challenges. By the second day the snow and high water began to slow us down, and after Water Dogs and the Scoutmaster's Big Splash the following day we knew we would have to leave the backcountry early.

A layover day at Palisade Lakes, which we had to ourselves, gave a chance for being lazy, a little fishing, and soaking up some sun. We planned our escape, which still required us to cross "Mutha" Pass. This crossing included lowering our packs over a snow wall on ropes. We believe we were the first party to cross this pass from the north this year. Camp that evening was at the headwaters of the South Fork of the Kings River, which leads to Kings Canyon. Our exit, however, went over "Taboo" Pass and down 6,000 steep and loose feet to a remote, little-used trailhead in the desert in Owens Valley.

Palisade Lake camp - click for more photos Was it worth it? Well, we challenged the toughest conditions the Sierra summer has seen and beat it. We enjoyed spectacular mountain scenery and beautiful wildflowers. We also saw less than two dozen people in five days. Among those we didn't see in the backcountry were several Scout troops who had stopped after only a few miles, telling us "too much snow." The solitude, challenge, and grandeur made this a trip to remember. More pics here

How Did We Get Out?

Before leaving we had set up a schedule with Vic to contact him by handheld VHF ham radio from the passes. Vic had alerted the Bishop Amateur Radio Club of our trip, and one of their members, Don (who lives in San Diego in the winter) listened for us and advised us of the trail, campsites, and water availability on our exit route. Without the help (thank you!) of Vic and Don on the ham radios we would have faced another ten miles of hiking in the desert heat to reach a pay phone.

For more information on ham radio on the Pacific Crest Trail, see my Repeater Guide to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Note: Pass names have been changed to protect the guilty. Mather Pass we referred to as "Mutha" and Taboose Pass as "Taboo."

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