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July 4th to 8th 2012: Ionian Basin

Introduction / Map / Day 0

An epic trip with an all-star castů

Our fearless leader / trip organizer was none other than Sacramento resident Jack Haskel whose impressive backpacking resume includes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2006, the Colorado Trail in 2008, and the Continental Divide Trail in 2010. In 2011 he started hiking the Appalachian Trail but quit in order to take a job with the PCT Association. Our southern California contingent consisted of Craig and Adan, who somehow find time to balance family, backpacking, underwater basket weaving (Craig has lots of hobbies) and crazy long-distance trail runs such as an insane rim-to-rim-to-rim single-day adventure at the Grand Canyon earlier this year (click here for Craig's story and here for Adan's story). The Bay Area was represented by James (San Francisco) and myself. A Chicago transplant, James recently ran a half-marathon and did a Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne loop, most people go one-way and use a car shuttle. He's also 10 years younger than me. Our group was to be rounded out by the enigmatic Dave T., a PCT and Sierra High Route thru-hiker who, each year, puts together some of the best 9+ day High Sierra trips around. Unfortunately, due to unexpected family issues, he was a late scratch. Basically, excluding my 37-year-old, non-exercising, one-trip-per-year self, everyone was experienced, fit, and as I would learn during the subsequent days, really nice and fun to be around. In short, I can't image a better 5-day trip nor a better group* to share it with.

* Selected people were missed. You know who you are.


Most of the route is shown on my Tom Harrison Bishop Pass map. I scanned the applicable areas as two 11x17 pdf's then marked the route along with some notes. Click here for Map 1 (3.3 MB) and here for Map 2 (2.4 MB).

Jack used some sort of software to trace our route and then was able to export it into Google earth and generate an elevation profile. According to the software the route was 51.5 miles and had a bit under 16,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Pretty cool!

Day 0

On Tuesday, July 3rd, I picked up James at the El Cerrito BART at 2 pm and we headed east. At 3:45 pm we met Jack in Escalon where we left his car on the street in what we hoped was a nice neighbourhood. After going over Tioga Pass we had dinner at the Mobil in Lee Vining then headed south to Bishop on 395. Around 9 pm we pulled into a car camping site at the North Lake Trailhead where Adan and Craig, who had driven up from southern California were waiting. Everyone in the group was new to me, except for Adan.  For more information about Jack, including his impressive backpacking resume, visit

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