Backpacking Bishop Pass w/ Friends from San Diego & Deuter Packs

Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.


Last Thursday night I met four childhood friends from San Diego in Bishop, California. In case you’re unaware, Bishop is like the Gateway to Heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. A geological hotspot lying on the San Andreas Fault, what lies beneath ground is intriguing and unpredictable. If you’re the type who springs for a nice dip in a naturally heated tub, the countless hot springs near Bishop should do you just right. The terrain in this area (think Mammoth Mountain, June Lake, Mono Lake) offers world-class rock climbing, hiking, biking and, in winter, skiing and snowboarding. So, to say my friends were pleasantly surprised with the views they woke up to Friday morning in the high desert above town would be an understatement. That afternoon, after a couple hours of bouldering at a popular climbing zone called the Buttermilks, we made our way to 10,000’+ in Inyo National Forest.

Looking west toward the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range from the town of Bishop, or from anywhere along Hwy 395, most would assume only dirt and rocks could survive in such harsh, dry places. But drive up Hwy 168 to 9,000’+ elevation and it gets incredibly green in the high canyons, where creeks flow to and from high alpine lakes full of beautiful, yet oblivious and tasty, trout. We did a two-day, three-night, out-and-back trip from South Lake. The water level at South Lake was disconcerting, but from then on we were happy to find plenty of sources to fill our hiking water reservoirs from, cast fishing rods into, and even send some 30’+ cliff dives into.


I have to give a shout-out to Deuter for supplying the 60+ liter backpacks so my friends from San Diego could carry some extra luxuries and really enjoy themselves out there. They don’t go quite as lightweight as this seasoned backpacker (mind me while I toot my own horn), but they truly impressed me with their abilities to keep moving forward as their bodies fought the altitude change and physical demands before them.

Charges while cooking via USB

We only ate one fish between the five of us, although Brandon must have caught at least fifteen. We had plenty of dehydrated camping food and other snacks ideal for backpacking, so consuming something wild for the helluvit seemed silly. Still, the guys wanted to cook one up so I went along with it. Plus, I wanted to try charging my phone (set to Airplane Mode, but I still use it as a camera) with the new PowerPot from Power Practical.


My BBB (Best Backpacking Buddies – cheesy, I know, but we had fun acting less our age) pose on some of the steeper switchbacks of the hike. This is part of the climb over Bishop Pass; we spent our nights at awesome lakes on either side.

A little yoga to get the juices flowing before breakfast.

That’s my favorite jacket for cool-weather camping, my Mountain Hardwear lightweight puffy. It keeps me warm (60 grams of synthetic insulation), packs down small, doubles as a pillow and doesn’t get torn to shreds when I rough it up on rocks. It’s usually too warm as a mid-layer under a ski jacket in the Sierra, but ideal in colder weather than California sees and perfect for three-season backpacking.


I’ve used this Deuter ACT Lite pack on my past three trips and I absolutely love it. It doesn’t have too many features like zippers or pockets I won’t use, but it has just enough to organize my stuff and access what I need in a jiffy. Access it through the top of the main compartment, or through the separate sleeping bag compartment. I do a pretty systematic packing job so I don’t really need side access, and since I never bring ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ I really only need the stretchy outer pocket, the top lid aka brain and the small zip pocket therein where I store keys, wallet, my modified first aid kid for backpacking and other essentials I want to keep separate. And of course the pocket for the water reservoir aka hydration bladder, which subs for heavier, bulkier water bottles and has an easy-pour spout, plus accepts my Katadyn water filter so I’ll never spill while pumping.


A lot of the trail looks like this. You hike past several lakes that seem to get more and more inviting as you progress toward the pass. I don’t know if it was a change in water color, surrounding foliage (or lack thereof), or just the fact that the longer you hike in 75+ degrees at more than 9,000 feet, the more you want to go for a swim.


I like this shot because this is how Brian (first-time backpacker) looked all weekend. He made quite the effort to shade himself, and even brought us all our own “sunthings” to protect our skin at altitude. I didn’t wear mine – my head’s too big and it felt restrictive, so I stuck with my trusty visor/ bandana combo. But I just love how Brian looks like a mountain ninja here. Don’t mess with that guy!


Smokey says, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Todd bought this for ten bucks at the ranger station and after it safely returned us home he gifted it to his baby girl (technically my niece, if we honor our brothers from other mothers status).


Above treeline on Bishop Pass, my friend Todd (my brother from another mother) and I gaze in the direction we’ll spend our second night. See how he’s got all that stuff rigged to the outside of his REI pack? Then me on the right, with everything inside my Deuter pack. It’s all about the design, people! Well, the backpacker and what he/she carries has a lot to do with it, but regardless Deuter focuses most on comfort and convenience while also saving weight, and it shows. Well, you can mostly feel it, I should say, but this photo sort of shows it. Just look how comfortable I look. No poles, either. I could have run with that thing on. In fact, I did on several occasions to catch up with the group after sidetracking/daydreaming, and I wouldn’t recommend it over much distance but the pack actually stays in place really well and I was surprised how comfortable it was as I bounced along the trail at a slow jog/trot (fastpacking pace).

happy hikers deuter backpacks

Brian, Nick and Brandon want me to thank Deuter for supplying their packs for the second annual BBB trip. They used them last year, and were stoked to have them again this year. Simple, lightweight comfort and convenience for these guys!


Flashing back to Friday morning, waking up at the Buttermilks. Behind the lens lies a bouldering paradise. It’s a nice getaway from winter when snow conditions are weak, but if you visit in summer be sure to climb early and get out before it gets too hot.

Have you hiked Bishop Pass? How about one pass over, from Sabrina Lake to Hungry Packer Lake? Do you own a Deuter backpack? What do you think of it? We’d love to hear how your trip compared in the comments section below!

Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Backpack
MSRP: $198.95

AlpineAire BBQ Chicken and Beans
MSRP: $9.95

Snow Peak Trek Combo – Titanium
MSRP: $105.95

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