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Thread: Fear and Loathing in the Lower Owens

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Den of Iniquity

    Default Fear and Loathing in the Lower Owens

    When my buddy told me he had booked us the shittiest room this side of the Eastern Sierras, I was a bit curious. And sure enough, the list of amenities should've included:

    Rusty death stairs

    Phone book but no phone

    A 20 foot clothing rod, longer than the one at my place (With 2 clothes hangers)

    Complimentary mold exposure

    Once a year behind the bed cleaning

    $hitty Wiring

    Complimentary mystery drugs

    After I showered, I felt dirtier coming out than when I went in, but after using the towels, which at this place are not measured in 'threadcount,' but rather 'grit,' 40 in this case, I sanded off a few layers of skin drying off to make sure I had cleaned off any communicable diseases off. If you wake up without scabies in the morning at this place and you have done well for yourself.

    The day had started earlier on the banks of the Owens River, with my buddy giving me an impromptu lesson in indicator nymphing.

    "Strike indicator? That thing's a glorified bobber."

    "It's called a strike indicator! Keep your voice down, there's fly fisherman around, I have a reputation to uphold."

    "OK, so when the bobber goes under, I set the hook."

    "Strike indicator!"

    First lesson learned was to cast IN the water, and not into the trees behind me.

    Second lesson is that waders are pretty important especially when you want to cover good stretches, as it seems 95% of the fish live in 5% of the river, and 95% of the river is inaccesible without waders. I was shown what a good drift looks like, and on the first drift, my buddy hooks a fish and hand it over to me. A few drifts later, while being explained what mending is, he hooks another one and hands it to me.

    I did get one to go by myself, and I can definitely see how this sport can be addictive.

    And I still think it should be called a bobber.


    While watching 3 pretty entertaining boxing matches, my buddy sends me a few pictures of local petroglyphs that are seemingly scattered all over the Owens Valley and mentioned that after 10 years of having visited the Eastern Sierras, he had never made a concerted effort to find them, let alone hike to them, probably because he already had his GFs in tow with him and their idea of a hike was going up those rusty stairs.

    After a bit of internet sleuthing, we were pretty certain that we had found at least 1 of the glyphs, the 'holy grail' if you will of the entire valley. The initial hike was pretty brutal, but once we had found the general vicinity of the glyph, my buddy goes into mountain goat mode and begins rock scrambling trying to locate it, since it is not visible to the naked eye from the 'trail.' Sure enough, 5 minutes later, he's hollering that he's found it.

    There was a second set of glpyhs that apparently were a small hike away, but we had absolutely no idea where. We wandered for a bit, walking towards what we thought were some explosed glyphs, which turned out to be the artwork of some dumbass who decided to use bullets to carve their own artwork.

    And 5 minutes later, my buddy's hollering that he's found the second glyph.

    We were beat when we got back to the car. The fly rods weren't even taken out today, and we made our way back to LA in the afternoon, not before a pitstop was made at Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine, which as anybody who's traveled the 395 can attest, makes some pretty decent tri tip. My first fish on a fly rod, my first exposure to the some pretty remarkable ancient artwork in this part of California.

    (And we didn't get any scabies.)

  2. #2


    Yes, the hike up to Sky Rock is short, but steep and tough. I did not find the 13 Moon glyph, the one time I went up there, from your photo I must have just missed it. I was also a bit disappointed how faded the Sky Rock glyphs were. Maybe the lighting was wrong (or I found another set of glyphs no one has recorded!). The place I found up there was obviously Sky Rock, it faces the sky. Your photos make mine look like crap.

    The set of glyphs off Fish Slough Road in Chidago Canyon are also very nice. The ones across from Fish Slough reserve show lots of water erosion in the area, must have been lush water flows back then. Lots of cool history around Bishop. Thanks for the report!

    Last edited by John Harper; 02-11-2019 at 08:12 PM.

  3. #3


    You were lucky. Looks like you were staying at the Mountain View motel on Bishop. Been sliding downhill for many years. You only stay there once.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Loudon TN


    We stayed at the hotel at the base of Lee Vining, real classy place. They put a cot in the closet for the 3rd party in our group. This way, every morning, someone would be coming out of the closet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Hamberders and Covfefe


    Quote Originally Posted by Panshot View Post

    Complimentary mystery drugs
    Should've taken it.

    What's the worse that could've happened?

    How was the weather up there? I know the roads into HC and the Upper O are all sketched out now thanks to the wetter than average Winter.

  6. #6


    This has to be one of the funniest reports that I have seen, even if the motel wasn't any fun. LOL

    I have stayed in Bishop probably around 10 times over the years, but never had problems like that. I must not have been in that motel.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    A.V. CA.


    Freaking amazing write up !
    Yea, old Bishop has its flea bags that's for sure.
    Vega bond next t Denny's has never let me down except the trolls from Denny's like to F with vehicles.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by tpfishnfool View Post
    Freaking amazing write up !
    Yea, old Bishop has its flea bags that's for sure.
    Vega bond next t Denny's has never let me down except the trolls from Denny's like to F with vehicles.
    Awesome post, had me cracking up the whole time. Thanks for the info!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    Thanks for the read. Your hotel did not look real nice for sure, one stop motel! I m glad you got bit and had some fishing fun.

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