Thunderbolt and Knapsack Pass

Dusy Basin to Thunderbolt Pass to Knapsack Pass to Bishop Pass Trailhead
(15 miles, +3,300/-4,800 feet).

We awoke this morning to a phenomenon I have never experienced.  One half of our tent had severe condensation and one half did not!  As it turns out, we had a heavy dew overnight, and the half of the tent without condensation was the half that was tucked away under the krummholz.  It got no dew outside and so had no condensation inside!

I exited the tent to make some hot chocolate, but I stopped for a while to spend time with a friend visiting our camp.

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Hello friend

The deer eventually went on its way and we had some breakfast before setting out on our day hike.  Our plan: circumnavigate Isosceles Peak via Thunderbolt Pass and then Knapsack Pass.  One of these is on the Sierra High Route and one is on Andrew Skurka’s King Canyon High Basin Route, so I was pretty excited to hike both of them.

The morning rays were otherworldly.

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Aaaaaaaahhh!
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Oooooooooooohhh!

I went a little nuts with some reflection shots.

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Alpenglow in the tarn
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Double Isosceles Peak
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All together now!
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Lake 11388
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Lake 11388 again
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Half Cookie negotiates a tarn

We climbed above the biggest lake below Thunderbolt Peak to about 11,600 feet and traversed through meadows.  We then headed up a ravine until we hit a boulder field below Thunderbolt Pass.

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The biggest lake below Thunderbolt
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Thunderbolt Pass
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Snow sure beats bouldering!
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Half Cookie winds her way
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Almost there
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Made it!

At Thunderbolt Pass we found a tent and pack.  We scanned the area and saw that its likely occupant was exploring the slopes below North Palisade across the way.

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No one’s home
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Barrett Lakes and the Palisade Basin

We took a nice long snack break at the pass and then started heading down.

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Half Cookie below Thunderbolt Peak
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Following the stream that feeds Barrett Lake 11523
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Looking back towards Thunderbolt Pass
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Barrett Lake 11523
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The occasional down climb
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Break time!

Our route flattened out as we traversed at about 11,700 feet towards a big rock that looked like a Lazy Boy chair.

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Comfy!

We then made our way down a nice flat ridge with easy granite ramps between Barrett Lakes 11523 and 11468.

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Barrett Lake 11523
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Barrett Lake 11468

Once past the lakes we found a grassy shelf to traverse over to the base of Knapsack Pass.

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Meadows below Knapsack Pass
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Looking back toward North Palisade

The climb up to the pass was easy.  As long as we kept to the grassy part of the ravine, there was always a way to get up to the next bench without any exposure.

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A grassy bench
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Almost there
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Columbine Peak
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Peak 12144
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Dusy Basin from Knapsack Pass

On the way down we also had pretty easy hiking on granite slabs.  We got cliffed out on the seam we were following, but it was easy to traverse over to the next one and find our way down.

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Coming down from Knapsack Pass
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A nice succulent
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A whole garden of it!

We kept descending until about 11,200 feet and then we traversed back over to the basin towards our camp.  The first bit was through willows, but a use path meant we didn’t have to blaze our own trail.

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Through the willows
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Across the streams

Soon we were back in the basin with its endless meadows and multitude of lakes.

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The lake below Columbine Peak
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Agassiz, Winchell, Isosceles, Columbine
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A lovely tarn
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Perfect for a dip!
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Half Cookie traipses between tarns

When we got back to our campsite it was only 2pm so we decided to break camp and walk the 8 miles back to our car.

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Heading back around our lake
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And back up towards Bishop Pass
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Beautiful flowers along the way
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I’m going to miss this place!
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Near Bishop Pass
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Alpine flowers
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Heading back down towards Bishop Lake
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Saddlerock Lake
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A nice little tarn
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Looking back towards Mount Goode
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“I love bridges!”
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A Timberline Tarn

When we passed the Timberline Tarns we diverged from the route we took to Chocolate Lakes and Ruwau Lake, so we got to see Spearhead and Long Lake for the first time.

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A lovely traverse
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Spearhead Lake
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Long Lake
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Three suns!
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Wait, I was told there would be no more up
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Long Lake again
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And again (it’s long!)

Half Cookie had a tough time with the final two miles (maybe because I told her was just one mile).

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Where’s the trailhead?!?!?

But we eventually made it back to the car and out to Bishop for the night.  What a wonderful trip!!!

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