Photo above: Karl and Katy at camp in Dusy Basin


South Lake to Dusy Basin and return, 2000

After a 15-year absence from the High Sierra, I returned for a backpack trip with the next generation of La Favres. I wanted my children, Karl and Katy, to see John Muir's Range of Light.. My brother, Alex, also went along.

The itinerary for the trip included a climb of Mt. Sill. However, after reaching camp in Dusy Basin, it was clear that I did not have the physical conditioning required to climb Mt. Sill. The plan was altered to a climb of Columbine Peak via Knapsack Pass. But after reaching Knapsack Pass, another assessment of my condition made me realize that I had met my limit. My brother went ahead and climbed Columbine Peak while the rest of us returned to camp.

While I was disappointed in not obtaining Mt. Sill, there was a consolation prize awaiting me on the approach to Knapsack Pass. A beautiful clump of alpine columbine flowers (Aquilegia pubescens). I don't recall seeing this flower in any previous trips and it had a special significance to me. During my botanical studies at California State University, LA, I took a course in plant systematics from Dr. James Henrickson. As I came across these flowers, the memory of his lecture about this plant came to mind. Checking my copy of A California Flora by Munz as I write this in 2020, I confirmed that Aquilegia pubescens freely hybridizes in nature with another closely related plant, Aquilegia formosa, a more familiar flower in the High Sierra. Professor Henrickson used the example of these two plants to illustrate a process of speciation, which has stayed with me to this day nearly fifty years later. I include here my photographs of each plant. Thank you Dr. Henrickson for teaching me plant systematics.

Back at our camp at Dusy Basin, we were visited by a bear during twilight. The bear made a direct line to our food canister from a long distance away, confirming the amazing sense of smell that bears have. But alas, the bear had no luck in opening our bear-proof can, leaving only a scratch on the lid, which can be seen to this day. After the bear left, I followed cautiously and was amazed at how quickly he made the top of Bishop Pass. That was the first bear I had ever seen in the high country. How things had changed since my previous trips.

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Map for Trip

OPEN MAP This topographic map will open in a new tab in your browser. Our route on trail is marked with red dots and blue dots for off-trail. The location of each photograph is marked with red arrows on the map.

Before the hike at White Mountains

Karl and Katy standing in front of a bristlecone pine
Karl and Katy standing in front of a bristlecone pine
Bristlecone pines
view of High Sierra from White Mountains

Day 1 South Lake, over Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin 7/24/2000

Karl and Katy at Long Lake
Alex, Katy and Karl on Bishop Pass Trail at Long Lake
Timberline Tarns
Katy and Alex on Bishop Pass Trail
Inconsolable Range, view from Bishop Pass
Karl and Katy at Bishop Pass
Columbine Peak and Knapsack Pass
Mt. Agassiz, Mount Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade

Day 2 to Knapsack Pass and return to camp

Aquilegia pubescens, common name columbine
Alex La Favre, climbing Columbine Peak
Alex La Favre, climbing Columbine Peak
Karl and Katy at Knapsack Pass
North Palisade and Mt. Sill
Middle Palisades
Split Mountain
view south from west side of Knapsack Pass
Katy La Favre decending from Knapsack Pass
Katy La Favre decending from Knapsack Pass
Isoceles Peak, view from Dusy Basin
Bishop Pass and Inconsolable Range behind it, view from Dusy Basin
Karl and Katy at our camp in Dusy Basin
Karl and Katy at our camp in Dusy Basin

Day 3 Back over Bishop Pass to South Lake

Moon above North Palisade before sunrise
View southwest over Dusy Basin
Jeff, Karl, Katy and Alex at Bishop Pas
View northwest from Bishop Pass
Karl, Katy and Alex La Favre at Bishop Pass
Katy La Favre, descending north side of Bishop Pass
Bishop Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
Bishop Pass Trail between Bishop Lake and Saddlerock Lake
Alex La Favre on Bishop Pass Trail
Saddlerock Lake
Alex La Favre, Bishop Pass Trail
Bishop Pass Trail just above Timberline Tarns
Bishop Pass Trail at Timberline Tarns
view of Long Lake from Timberline Tarns
view of Long Lake from Timberline Tarns
Long Lake
Alex, Karl and Katy at Long Lake
Chocolate Peak


last update May 30, 2020