On Thursday July 23 at 7:30 AM the group met at the Casitas Pass turnoff to gather for the convoy to Bishop. I rolled in to find Kalvin and his wife Natalia waiting in their Mojito! Green JL Rubicon; they were soon joined by Kirk in “Blackie” and Darrell in his yellow TJ (that I have come to call “Trusty the TJ” in my head). Kalvin and his family were trying to coordinate with another family and planned to join us later in Bishop once they got their plans firmed up. We exchanged mobile numbers and looked forward to meeting later in the day.
In addition to Kalvin’s two vehicles, Darrell’s daughter Emily planned to join us later in Bishop as well. So Kirk, Darrell, and I hit the road and arrived in Bishop at 1:15 pm after a couple of stops for gas. After fueling up again, we headed to Browns Town campground to find the Tinkers and await Emily’s arrival in her black-on-black JL Moab., (Emily arrived only an hour behind us, despite having left 2 hours later than us!)
Unfortunately, we learned that George and his wife would not join at Coyote Flats, as they had already made the run earlier that day and understandably decided that it was too far to do it as another day trip. At 2 PM, we said goodbye and the four Jeeps headed West to find the trailhead. Within a couple of miles, we were at the start and aired down in the hot dry air of the high desert.
The climb up to Coyote Flats starts on a gradual sandy wide road, but quickly turns to a rutted, rocky and steep climb up to about 8,800’
After the climb and a couple of creek crossings, we were greeted by sweeping vistas of the high meadows.
After 2.5 hours, the 4 Jeeps rolled into our camp area just after 5 PM and began setting up camp.
There was even a latrine – all that was needed was to “decorate” a bit with a blue tarp and voila! The Teepee Toilet!
The following morning, we made an attempt to hike to Baker Lake but could not find the trailhead. Eventually I found the lake and radio’d back to camp that the fishing was pretty good!
Late Friday afternoon Kalvin and family and friends arrived with tales of a a double-breakdown (or should I say “brake-down”?) in Fillmore requiring two replacement front calipers at two different locations. Then a harrowing account of their 5 hour journey up to the camp site. All were ready for some relaxation time at camp!
Saturday morning was time for some exploration by Jeep, and Kalvin and son David joined Kirk, Emily, Darrell, and I to head out across the upper flats to scout around. The weather was perfect and the relatively easy trails led us to some incredible vistas. Unfortunately while heading out, Kirk lost his rear passenger side shock mount, so we pulled off the trail for about 45 minutes while Kirk removed the shock and its broken mount. For the remainder of the trip, Kirk got used to the boat-like ride of driving uneven terrain without a rear shock…
Lunch Stop at Coyote Lake
After the lunch break we headed toward Coyote Ridge. Some decided to stay in the beautiful valley and enjoy the sights (and take great photos!) while Kirk and I headed to the top.
The view from 11,500’
Video clip of the view from the top:
After the visit to Coyote Ridge, we re-grouped and headed back toward camp, which is when we had our second incident of the day – Darrell blew out a sidewall on his Jeep just before the creek crossing. Kirk helped him swap the spare and air back up quickly with his PowerTank and we were back on the road, headed across the long meadow.
The road across the meadow is long and sandy, punctuated with enough rocks to make you slow down every 100 yards or so.
At the end of the main “lower” meadow is a bridge crossing that connects up to Sanger “upper” Meadow: Video
We rolled back into camp around 4 pm and settled back with cold drinks and folding chairs for the rest of the evening and had a nice big fire with the abundant pine wood found around the camp.
Sunday morning Kalvin and family packed up to head down to lower elevations and in search of lakes with trout while Darrell, Emily, Kirk, and I loaded up our packs and took the hike up to Baker Lake for some alpine lake fishing.
Unfortunately the fishing was slow, but the scenery was fantastic.
After a couple of hours we headed back to camp for a lazy afternoon of taking turns shooting cans off a log with a .22. Good ol’ fashioned fun!
And in case you’re wondering, Emily is one helluva shot! She managed to hit a 3” pine cone off the top of a can at 25 yards, shooting offhand!
After the hike, we spent a wonderfully relaxing afternoon at camp shooting cans off a log with a 22 and hanging out (for what it’s worth, Emily can hit a 2” pine cone off the top of a can at 25 yards off-hand!)
The lazy afternoon turned into a lazy evening of cooking, enjoying cold beverages, and checking in on each other’s dinners.
Monday morning we all decided to pack up and head home and we’re on the trail by 9 AM for the (surprisingly) arduous journey back down the mountain.
Credit to Darrell for most of the amazing photos!
Written By: Brent C.