Bloody Canyon to Parker Creek
(10.5 miles, +3,000/-300 feet).
This was an accidental trip.
I originally thought about organizing a different hike but I discovered that on the Inyo Wilderness Permit site you can enter a date and group size and it shows you all available trailheads. I had never heard of many of the ones I saw, so I went through them one by one, researching each.
I was drawn to one in particular: Bloody Canyon.
The Bloody Canyon trailhead has a daily quota of 5 people and it seems like it is available almost all the time. But in spite of its unpopularity, the few people who have described the trail online all say it is one of the nicest hikes they had ever done in the Sierra. Plus, it dips briefly into beautiful Yosemite and (eventually) gives access to the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. It seemed perfect!
So our plan is to do a there-and-back from Bloody Canyon to Marie Lakes on the other side of the John Muir Trail. We also have the option of heading south from Marie Lakes to Mammoth if we so desire. We’ll see.
This morning we got to the trailhead about 12:30pm after a long early morning drive from San Diego. It felt good to stretch our legs!
The trail climbs up from the parking lot through some campsites and then apparently heads down toward Walker Lake. I say “apparently” because we headed up on what must have been a use trail. Before long we were bushwhacking a traverse.
The use trail sort of disappeared, so we just kept our elevation until we crossed Walker Creek.
Sure enough, the trail was there on the other side of the creek.
There were some really pretty wildflowers near the creek as we climbed.
At around 9,000 feet we started emerging from the woods to get more open views of the reddish rocky canyon.
We took our first major break at Lower Sardine Lake, where it was really windy.
After our break, we circled around the lake and found a cove protected from the wind. I took the opportunity to jump in for a quick swim.
Soon we were back on the trail headed up past Upper Sardine Lake to Mono Lake.
At last we made it to Mono Pass!
One confusing thing about this trail is that there are actually two Mono Passes. This one sits on the boundary of Yosemite National Park, and the other one is further south above Ruby Lake in the John Muir Wilderness (I did a trip to the other Mono Pass earlier this year).
The rest of the afternoon was extremely pleasant walking though meadows and alpine tundra up to Parker Pass.
By 5:30pm we made it to our high point for the day at 11,100 feet above sea level.
BarnFinder and MixMaster were tired, so they continued down the trail to get out of the wind and take a break. Meanwhile, I went off trail to go see Parker Pass Lake. There were tons of flowers on the way up the ridge.
I returned to the trail and found MixMaster and BarnFinder. We picked up our stuff and hiked down the valley another mile or so to find a campsite in the Parker Creek drainage.
The campsite was really beautiful, but a bit buggy. The mosquitoes didn’t seem to be biting, though, so we were able to eat dinner in relative peace.
Soon the moon was rising and it was time for sleep!