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Piute Pass: Day 02


Piute Pass: Day 02

June 5, 2015 | Bishop, CA to North Lake, CA

Without respite the mind tends to wander, and peripatetic thoughts began to ricochet in the mucky cavern of my consciousness–itinerant ideas holding tryouts that, were this most any other day, would be passed up time after time by the surly old scout of my rationale.

Piute Pass: Day 02


I Day 02 Basic Info


Bishop, California






23.5 miles



5661 feet



BLAZING HOT in the morning. Erratic freezing rain in the afternoon. Perfectly pleasant in the evening.



Ride from Bishop to North Lake. Camp at North Lake.



We rode from Bishop to North Lake. It was hard. The bonus miles from the day before took a toll. The erratic freezing rain didn’t help. We stopped off for griddle sandwiches and homemade pie at the Lake Sabrina Boat Landing to wait out the storm before heading up to camp at North Lake.

II The Climb out of Bishop

The section of 168 that heads west out of Bishop is steep and merciless, a true grind. A black serpent stretched out upon the mountainside. There are no beautiful switchbacks, no shade, no trees, no capricious undulations in the road that would force a change in tempo—just one long exposed section after another of unyielding grade. At least the view is nice. But without respite the mind tends to wander, and peripatetic thoughts began to ricochet in the mucky cavern of my consciousness–itinerant ideas holding tryouts that, were this most any other day, would be passed up time after time by the surly old scout of my rationale. But here, in these conditions, an outside idea might stick. Maybe my little brain scout saw something he liked, or maybe he just spent too much time before tryouts getting blasted on Jack and Diet Coke, because there’s nothing like crunching on the sweet burn of aspartame and whiskey between your teeth at 11 AM, reclining in the driver’s seat of your ‘93 Buick LeSabre while blasting the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider in the parking lot of whatever small town stadium/arena/field/mind parking lot where the idea tryouts are being held. So the scout lets the idea ride, maybe he even signs it– indulging in a flight of fancy.


During the first half of the climb Mt. Tom towers in the distance, a fang, a granite canine lodged in a denticulated ridge of mountains that makes up this stunning stretch of the eastern Sierra Nevada. The flanks of this mountain, this archetype of geologic construction, angle towards each other in lockstep, tapering towards a neatly pointed peak. As I was contemplating its platonic perfection an idea took hold:

If an alien rover landed on this planet, would this granite pyramid set off speculation and demand a hypothesis wherein the construction of this mound–with its symmetrical perfection– would be impossible to comprehend without believing it had been done through sentient intervention?”- KVH

Would the eye/eyes receiving the rover’s images, however many millions/billions of miles away, see just another cute stack of rocks or might they assume that this isn’t just a geological pyramid, but a sign of an ancient and a wise race? And if this was the core idea of their speculation, would they wonder what happened to these magnificent titans, these masons of mountains? Would they assume that the six struggling and grunting hominids slowly approaching this splendid construction were supplicants paying respect in ritualistic form, eschewing their ordained bi-pedalism for curious balance machines loaded with all the necessary supplies for a spiritual pilgrimage to this sacred site?


ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BYMISSION WORKSHOPAt this point a lifted diesel truck roars past, pulling me out of my daydream, while simultaneously rolling coal on our broken peloton while the obviously exuberant co-pilot waves emphatically at us with an energetic display of his central finger. We’re now climbing a section of the road that parallels Bishop creek and the storm clouds we had seen putting on an impressive display of velocity and precipitation to the north earlier in the day have caught up to us. The grade has yet to yield and while I know that somewhere up ahead of us the climb will come to an end, I have no sense of how close that may be. Each pedal stroke continues to an absurd argument, but idiotic and irrational obstinance prevails, and we carry on.


The dark veil of clouds that had threatened to downpour many times during the later part of the climb unleash a cruel flailing of droplets upon our brow just below the tiny recreational outpost of  Cardinal Village. Daniel, in a strategic move, decides to descend a few hundred yards back to a covered camp area while the rest of us continue to climb. Fortunately the rain only lasts a few minutes and it’s not long until we reach the top. We know from past experience that just up the road, through a brief stretch of campgrounds and turnouts, there is a small restaurant/bait shop on the shore (or what was the shore before this year’s long drought decimated California’s water reservoirs, including Lake Sabrina). We don’t know if it’s open, we don’t know what it contains, but most of the crew heads off on a fact-finding mission to find out exactly what treasures it might contain while Dylan and I wait for Daniel. By the time he arrives the other group has not returned and the three of us ride up to meet them. Their bikes are stacked against the wall and inside a radiant being named Patti was waiting. She prepared grilled cheese sandwiches, hot chocolate, steaming bowls of chili, and to finish, sliced off huge wedges of homemade pie. We discussed weather woes and she warned us that the forecast called for snow/rain/misery over the next couple of days. Of course. Having finished our meal we climbed/walked our way up to the North Lake campground to set up camp while indulging in some high-end M.R.E.’s.

Night came quickly and with it came sleep. I was all dreamed out because that night I slept deeply in an unconscious abyss betwixt the temples of giants. ”- KVH

III Browns Town

What's more serene than waking up next to a golf course? The sprinklers, the verdant finely manicured fields, the raked sand, the retired men with their caramel tans muttering profanities under their breath. This would truly have been a beautiful morning if our neighbor, I think his name was Glenn or Levi or Phil hadn't felt the need to do a prolonged predawn generator test. I am going to tell you something, and this is purely based on experience, but the incessant rattling of a generator is just not the same as a song bird's trill or the thrum of a symphony of crickets. It's a sound, sure, but it just doesn't hit that On Walden Pond sweet spot. One to grow on I guess.
I get up, and nothing gets me down. You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around. And I know, baby, just how you feel. You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real. Oh can't you see me standing here, I've got my back against the record machine. I ain't the worst that you've seen. Oh can't you see what I mean? Might as well jump. Jump! Might as well jump. Go ahead, and jump. Jump! Go ahead, and jump.
Always be Knolling.
By this point, "slug bug", the act of socking your nearest neighbor when catching sight of a VW Beetle has been woven into our cultural fabric. This photo gives you license to slug your nearest neighbor.

IV Breakfast manœuvres

"The food is finger-licking good! Service is ok. Juices are freshly squeezed-well, at least the OJ is. There must be about 20 Parking spaces in total in their parking lot. Prices are a little higher than average diners but the food is soooo good! They have eggs, bacon, muffins, hash browns, omelettes.... Basically, your typical diner food. It's usually out fast so you will not be in there too long. Perfect for your trip back home." - Daisy A. Sundland, California
Mile 55.5
This is a Red Beer. A savory blend of beer, tomato juice, and spices. If you drink, and you know that you will be spending all of your day grinding slowly up a long steep hill, might as well start the day with one of these churched-up beers.
So the 19th, the 20th, and the 21st century pull into a parking lot...

V Leaving Bishop

Good from far, far from good.
That one on the right, that's the fang.
Mile 62
When we pulled in here a middle aged woman in shorts was calling to her dog. The dog came to her, and then they both got into this car. Pretty unremarkable stuff, and I think I can speak for the group when I say we all expected her to get back on the road and continue driving. Instead she drove her car further into the desert by about 40 feet and started honking her horn. The sound came out of her vehicle as if she was following along to one of John Cage's more abstruse compositions. When we once again began to climb, there was no indication that she was going to stop her post-modern blast.

VI Paralleling Bishop Creek

Different turnout, same turn out.
Mile 74
Hey bud.
This is a toddler's dream. 14 miles of trucks on triangles!

VII Snacking at Lake Sabrina

Mile 84.5
Mmmmmm. O.M.G. this is such a life saver.
Hmm, your proposition is intriguing and I can see your point, but before I make any decisions I will need to run the numbers by my people.
I believe in nothing.
That's Patti. If you are anywhere near Lake Sabrina, Bishop, or California you should make sure to pay her a visit.
In the good old days the water in the lake would lap against that retaining wall. But that was before all the almond trees. Now, there's hardly any water in the lake and it should all be blamed on almond trees. These water mongers literally suck H2O out of the sky before it has a chance to turn into a cloud and create a storm system. Something has to be done to stop this almond scourge before it turns California into a desert!

VIII North Lake Campground

Mile 86
Yeah we walked up the road.
"It's this big, guys I swear." - Fish Myth.
Mile 87
This is what a premature celebration looks like.
Kelli Samuelson, Los Angeles, CA.
Yonder Journal Hot Tip: Always bring hot sauce. Always. Don't be stupid.
What's not coming across in this image, and what you should be seeing, is that we're mimicking the pulled back upper lip, dried upper teeth, unreal smile technique that is worn by the three smiling models on this Mountain House packaging. What's funny, is that on second look, that pulled back upper lip deal really delivers a knock out smile. Don't we all look like we are having one hell of a good time?

IX Night Camo

X Daniel, Caught in a Tuvan Trance

Dead Reckoning: Piute Pass Print

Single, limited edition of thirty 18×24″prints. Art by Jon Bailey. Screen printed by hand in Brookyln, NY by LQQK Studio. Shipping in 4-6 weeks. International buyers are responsible for all taxes/duties/etc.

XI Brief Histories Day 02: Bishop to North Lake
Researched and Compiled by Dillon Maxwell

California Highway 395


  • Stretches for 557 miles north to south.
  • Connects the highest point in U.S., Mount Whitney, to the lowest, Badwater Basin, in Death Valley.
  • The road’s path is loosely based off of the Camino Sierra (connecting LA to lake Tahoe), which was one of the main trails used in the Gold Rush.
  • In the 1930s the 395 was extended from Spokane, WA all the way to San Diego, using the Camino Sierra as a guide.


Bishop, CA


  • The largest city in Inyo County.
  • It is known as the “Mule Capital of the World.”
  • Renowned rock climbing area.
  • Formed as a result of miners and west-wanderers needing to re-supply.
  • August 22, 1861, Samuel Bishop arrives with cattle and establishes the St. Francis Ranch. Soon after, the ranch grew into a town, with an army post and a post office.
    In 1870, Native Americans are displaced from the region.
  • YJ’s Kyle Von Hoetzendorff is from here.


The Owens River


  • 183 Miles long.
  • The Owens River played a central role in the California Water Wars.
  • By the late 1800s Los Angeles had outgrown its water supply.
  • The Owens River was diverted to supply LA with water in 1913.
  • From 1902-1905 there are a lot of nefarious dealings to gain water rights for the aqueduct.
  • One of the two main actors in the Water Wars, Fredrick Eaton, offered a lot of money to landowners, buying the land for his “cattle ranching” with the ulterior motive of selling it back to the city of LA.
  • The resulting diversion of water has taken an enormous toll on the farmers in Owens Valley.


Lake Sabrina


  • Elevation: 9,138 ft.
  • End point for the eastern section of the 168.
  • Named after Sabrina Hobbs, wife of Charles Hobbs, the first GM of the Nevada California Power Company.
  • Primary outflow is the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek.
  • Dam was built there in 1907-08 to power hydraulic plants in the area.

XII Route Map

XIII Mechanical Transport

  1. The purpose of this ride was to travel California Highway 168 from end to end. Not just the 168 as it exists today but the whole thing. The way it was originally imagined, from Nevada to Fresno, over both the Whites and the Sierra. Most of the route is on public roads which is obviously legal and therefore a no-brainer. However, 22 miles of the route is on trail John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. On which trail and in which Wilderness possession/use of Mechanical Transport is 1000% illegal.
  2. And so, because using/possessing Mechanical Transport in a Wilderness Area is 1000% illegal, we completely disassembled our bikes: pedals off​, wheels off​, skewers out, chain off, ​seat out​, etc. Then we semi-permanently attached the component parts to our backpacks where they remained (without exception, even while we slept) for the duration of our time in the Wilderness Area.
  3. So the question is, if you disassemble a car into thousands of pieces, including the motor, and transport the parts through the Sierra one the back of pack mules, which are legal, is that the same as driving an automobile through a Wilderness Area? We think not, we think if you disassemble a mechanism it’s no longer a mechanism.
  4. More importantly (semantics aside for a moment), we didn’t ride bikes in the Wilderness, nor are we advocating for others to ride bikes in the Wilderness.
  5. We took great pains to adhere to the law and the spirit of the Wilderness Act.
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Additional Support for this Project was Provided By SRAM CLIF Porcelain Rocket Mission Workshop Snow Peak Outlier Mountain Hardwear Oakley Stumptown Coffee Poler Causwell Salewa
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