CALIFORNIA CAMPING

Bishop Creek

September 21, 2009

We received a tip from a fellow camper at Kennedy Meadows to bypass our original camping destination (which, at that point had fluctuated between several campgrounds randomly chosen from a guidebook) and instead head to Bishop Park Campground, along the Bishop Creek. I don’t claim to be a genius, but there is one thing I’ve learned from my travels: if someone gives you a tip or recommendation while on the road, it’s usually a good idea to take it. Things like word-of-mouth fishing holes, hole-in-the-wall diners, and secluded campgrounds all fall under the category of: it would be stupid to at least not go and have a look.

With Lake Isabella still lingering in our minds, we figured we had nothing to lose–a benefit of having no plans/agendas/or reservations.

But first, we had to drive through desert terrain on Highway 395

I guess you could say we drove through towns, although, at times the definition of “town” became questionable. In the desert, it’s hard to tell sometimes if items/towns/rubbage in the middle of nowhere are still in use, or if they have been sitting perfectly preserved for decades.

At the visitor’s center, located at the intersection of where 395 meets the road into Death Valley, you can purchase backcountry passes to climb Mt. Whitney. Or, if you are like us, you can enjoy the view of Mt. Whitney from the shady picnic grounds.

Continuing north on HWY 395: Every gas station served several functions: gas, convenience store, housing, chicken coop, small farm, and potential pony rides.

Several hours later, we reached the turn-off for Rte 168 in Bishop.

I didn’t realize we would be heading into the mountains…

About 45 minutes and 15 miles of winding roads later, we reached Bishop Park Campground. Luck was on our side, as we snagged the last available campsite, camp #13

We set up camp on the soft sands right along Bishop Creek. The sound of the rushing water was what we woke up to and fell asleep to every night. Pretty amazing for $23 a night.

Once the tent had been pitched, and our gear had been stowed in bear lockers, we decided to try our hand at fishing. Bishop Creek supposedly is teeming with brown trout.

We tried our best to find the fish — went upstream, went downstream, gauged the current, crossed fallen trees, tried to find the calm, dark, spots of water where we were sure the trout lay lurking.

Several hours later, we had given up and moved on to another location: the nearby North Lake

(We were equally unlucky, but we sure did enjoy the magnificent view)

Near the turnoff for North lake is a calmer part of Bishop Creek. We could SEE the trout here with our own two eyes, taunting us, daring us to toss in our line only so they could swim towards it, then swim away.

Needless to say, we didn’t eat fish for dinner.

Instead, we cooked (fishless) campfire (ok, gas grill) chili while we watched the sun slip behind the clouds, and turn the sky pink and orange.

When night fell, the nearby camp of frat boys on a retreat of some sort started to sing in harmony with one another – a strange, yet haunting, melody accompanied by the crackling of the fire, and the sound of water rushing over the rocks in the nearby creek. Miles away from civilization, nestled in the mountains of a place I never imagined existed, that was our entertainment for the evening.

SLEEP
Bishop Park Campground($23/night. There are upper and lower sites–the upper sites are close to where they sell wood, and many RVs tend to be here. The lower sites are closer to the highway, and are right along the river. Flush toilets cleaned regularly. Firewood available on site for $8. Bear lockers. Vehicles must be parked in separate lot, so in some ways the lower sites are walk-in. As far as I know, reservations are only accepted for group campsites).

EAT
Best bet is to bring your own food, but if you’re stuck, Bishop is about a 15 mile drive from camp. Even closer is the Bishop Creek Resort, near Lake Sabrina, several miles from camp.

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