Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Eastern Sierras Continue to WOW Us!

There are many hikes to choose from if you are based out of Bishop, CA, most involve high elevation of 10,000 feet and up. The one we chose during our brief stay in the area was the Chocolate Peak Loop. (topo map link here.) This lollipop loop hike took us among multiple 13,000 foot peaks and past several sub alpine lakes; the scenery was dramatic, majestic, awe inspiring...truly, words cannot do it justice, nor can my little point and shoot camera!

The trailhead at South Lake is at 9,768 feet and our high point on the saddle between Ruwau and Chocolate Lakes was about 11,300 feet. We could have added a few hundred feet more by scrambling to the top of Chocolate Peak, but we'd had enough elevation gain by the time we reached the saddle! This seven mile hike had a good mix of short uphill sections countered by stretches of relatively level terrain. There were a few steep, loose rock, scrambling areas, but nothing where we felt our lives were in danger!

South Lake is a reservoir so the water level fluctuates annually, right now it is quite low.

About half a mile into the hike we were hiking stone stairs among giant granite outcroppings.

Small lakes dotted the basins while 13,000 foot peaks scraped the skyline all around us.

We were dwarfed by the majesty surrounding us!

Bright sunlight dims the chocolate color of Chocolate Peak in the center foreground.
We would make our way up to a saddle behind the peak.

Long Lake was absolutely stunning.

Ruwau Lake.

Rock scramble up to the saddle above Ruwau Lake.

Ruwau Lake from above.
Not much snow on the surrounding 13,000+ foot peaks this year.

From the saddle we could see the first of the three Chocolate Lakes.

Lunch break on the saddle dominated by massive jagged peaks all around us.

Time to scramble off the looks worse than it actually was!

Chocolate Lake from the West, backed by the saddle we scrambled over.

Dropping down towards the next Chocolate Lake.
That's Chocolate Peak on the left, you can kind of see the chocolate color of the rock.

Chocolate Lake #2.

Chocolate Lake #3.

Fall foliage along the highway down off the mountains, heading towards Bishop.

Autumn humor along highway 168.

Today we decided to take it easy and checked out the excellent Laws Railroad Museum just a few miles North of Bishop. Laws was once a railroad town, larger than Bishop. Much more than just railroad memorabilia, the park has many buildings brought in from the surrounding communities that are filled with antiques depicting life around the turn of the century and beyond.

The original Laws Depot.

A fancy hearse.
Just a few of the old buildings on site.

We stayed at Bishop RV Park at the Tri County Fairgrounds. We chose this park because it was the least expensive full hookup option in town ($25/night). It is convenient to town and was quiet at night, and we had a decent Verizon signal. I probably wouldn't stay here again as it is nothing more than a dirt parking lot with hookups. I thought it odd that new arrivals were put right next to us (twice) even though there were dozens of empty sites throughout the park!

Tomorrow we head on down to Lone Pine for our last couple of nights on the flanks of the Eastern Sierras.


  1. Do you not love that area? It's so beautiful there.

    1. Next time we come through we'll go slower/longer, we love it too!

  2. Did you stop by the Erick Schats bakery? or the Mountain Light Gallery? It looks like we will come back here for we have not done these hikes you are trudging nor the museum.
    I am imagining the fall foliage on 395 and thanks for your great pics I was not disappointed.

    1. Oh yes, we did stop in at Schats! Always an institution in Bishop!

      Fall along this stretch of road has not been a disappointment! Highly recommended!

  3. Replies
    1. It's scenery like this that is why we live this lifestyle!

  4. If you got my first comment, don't publish this one. I thought your hike was fabulous and all the lakes were spectacular. What wonderful pictures. You were really up in the nosebleed section with this one. Does it bother your breathing??

    1. Well I didn't get your first comment but I did get the second and third! I do have to publish the comments before they show up, but I thought Blogger put up a little notice when you hit publish saying the "comment will be visible after approval". Like you, I just love Blogger...not always!

      We were hiking pretty slowly and stopping regularly to slow our breathing. But it was worth it!

  5. Love, love, love this area. Hope you managed a burger at Burger Barn or Thai food at the airport (it rocks!).

    1. Did not eat at those places this trip, they'll be on the list for next time through the area!

  6. What a wonderful hike...I do love the lakes! As always, your pictures are beautiful Lisa!

  7. looks like you chose a splendid hike...

  8. Blue skies, fall temps and colors, incredible boulders, and lakes of chocolate - nirvana reached! Always wanted to visit Laws and I see it's worth the stop next time. I can smell the sheepherders' bread at Schats :-) - that will always be Bishop for me.

  9. Mmmm...Chocolate Lakes. Sounds delicious :) Wasn't the Laws Railroad Museum wonderful? It blew us away with all the buildings and displays. I couldn't believe how much time we ended up spending there. An excellent find.

  10. Impossible to resist a hike named Chocolate Peaks (to Chocolate Lake). What a gorgeous find -- and the museum looks really interesting, too. We've been wanting to spend more time along 395, and your photos and blog are soooo enticing. Choosing where to be in the fall is a difficult decision! Maybe next year….

  11. This hike had it all...fall foliage, beautiful lakes, neat mountains, and altitude with cool temps!! My kind of hike:) If you have hike at that altitude a few level areas really help. Our son was telling us that in the small private planes, the pilot has to wear oxygen when they hit 10,000 ft. No wonder we have trouble breathing while climbing at these higher elevations!

  12. This looked like a fabulous hike but I'm wondering how I would do at this altitude. When I hiked Mt. Humphrey's in Flagstaff several years ago I learned that altitude above about the 11,000' mark is not particularly my friend.