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Post 12 Jul 2020, 13:29 • #1 
Master Guide
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 855
Location: SJC
All last week I've been off work for a company shutdown, one of three we are having this year. It was a nice opportunity to get out during the week for a change. I'd done this same trip about five years ago, and wondered how things had changed.

I'd reserved my wilderness permit online, called up the ranger station, and they emailed me a copy to sign and carry. Nice not to have to show up at their office (anyone who has ever tried to pick up a permit in Mammoth knows what I'm talking about :) ).

After my warmup hike in Mammoth I just went straight to the trailhead the next day and started hiking. Anyone who has driven up 395 has seen these mountains.

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The first several miles are a steady uphill without much shade, and the day warmed quickly. A breeze started up around mid-morning, for which I was grateful.

The creek tumbles down the canyon, but around 9000'-ish it is more of a slow and meandering meadow stream.

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I'd stopped here to fish for brookies before, but I had another destination in mind today. I continued up the trail and soon the creek increased in gradient again.

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I could see fish up here, too. The trail climbed into the forest (shade finally !) and up granite staircases relentlessly. Nearing 10000'-ish and another creek and meadow the mosquitoes started to find me. I'd pre-treated my clothes with permethrin though, and they were not that bad yet.

I found the old use trail, crossed the creek and headed up to my destination for the night. It was steep in places, and there were occasional cairns left by other visitors. I stopped for lunch at a small lake around 10200' and caught a few brookies on my tenkara rod.

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A bit later I managed to huff and puff my way up to the lake.

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The last time I'd done this the day had turned stormy, and I'd been hailed on en route. This time it was just windy. Fortunately the winds seemed to be blowing towards me (and thus the fish). I lobbed some foam hoppers on my Echo Big Water Glass 8'6" 5wt. Strikes, but no hookups. Oh, there were fish in here all right, and they were hungry. They were just managing to not get caught :)

Last time I was here I had good luck on light colored nymphs, so I tried something similar and tossed a Flying Squirrel out.

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Yikes ! I carry a smallish tenkara net while backpacking and this guy could barely fit; it was the largest golden (or more likely golden-rainbow hybrid) I'd ever caught. As it flopped around, I struggled to get a photo, make sure the nymph hook was out of its mouth, and get it back into the water. Phew, sometimes catching fish seems as traumatic for me as it does for the fish ;)

I picked out some more random nymphs, and thought "I've never caught anything on Egan's Red Dart", but sure enough ...

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I continued fishing for a few hours, and had a few more strikes, but that was it for me. The winds got stronger, and continued all night and into the morning. The good thing was that this prevented the mosquitoes from landing on me.

I headed out early, back down to the creek and meadow, and then continued my ascent up the main trail. More granite staircases and meadows. The wind wasn't as bad here, and the mosquitoes were finding me again.

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The trail climbed higher, and turned more metamorphic instead of the usual Sierra granitic. At this latitude treeline is below 11000'.

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I was nearing the pass, almost 12000' according to the map. The mantra "slow and steady, the mountaineer's pace" went through my head. As I get older I am definitely not getting better at elevation ...

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Finally over the pass I surveyed my destination.

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That patch of green with a creek running through it was where I wanted to go. Downhill I went ...

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The mosquitoes were active well above 11000' on this side of the pass, and the wind had died down. Oh yeah, I was going to be a mosquito snack for sure :) Around 10500' I reached the meadow and fished for golden trout in the creek.

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After an hour or two of that I continued down the trail, then broke off cross-country heading up into the granite slabs and into another creek canyon. I made my way up to another familiar lake.

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I fished here for a few hours and then made camp. I saw a few goldens, but they were shy and avoided capture much like the ones I'd seen the day before. I walked around the lake a bit, but it seemed like things were much quieter than the last time I was here. Huh.

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The wind was much quieter overnight. The mosquitoes were out, but really not that bad here. I fished a bit in the morning, but mainly just caught some nice light :)

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I headed back down the creek canyon, and returned to the trail, heading back uphill, and got to another pretty lake.

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The brookies were biting here, and it was a nice lunch spot, but I had no intention of stopping.

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Instead I headed out cross country again, steeply uphill. Around 11000'-ish I reached the lake. The afternoon upslope winds were blowing, but nothing like the previous day.

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This lake is surrounded on most sides by talus and has no trail, no trees, and poor camping options. It is a large lake though, and good-sized rainbows seem to thrive in it. Time to lob some hoppers !

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The inlet springs were still running well, and the fish seemed to cluster around where they entered the lake. It was a cooler night, and breezy. I did see a mosquito or two but they were not an issue up here.

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In the morning the water was calm, and I could see fish rising.

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But I had a ways to go and hurried back down. This is why there is no trail.

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I made my way cross-country back to the main trail, and headed up, "slow and steady" again filling my brain. Near the pass I heard the sound of something moving in the rocks; my first marmot sighting of the season.

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I blitzed downhill from the pass, and stopped for lunch and a quick fishing session at an 11000' lake.

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The brookies here took hoppers with abandon, but it was not as on fire as the last time I had been here five years ago. Or maybe I just remember it differently :)

There were a bunch of places I could have stopped to fish on the way back to the car, but I'd been suffering from pollen allergies the entire time. Something about early July in the Sierra just makes my sinuses go nuts. I made it back in mid-afternoon, and back down in the canyon it was in the 80's. Time for a long drive home, and a new box of kleenex :)


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Post 12 Jul 2020, 13:48 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/16/05
Posts: 1989
Location: Georgia
Thanks! Entertaining as always.


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Post 12 Jul 2020, 14:43 • #3 
Guide
Joined: 11/11/13
Posts: 346
Location: US-CA
Wow, you are a prolific high country trekker, that first golden is a real beauty. Looks like fantastic adventure.

Lanny


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Post 12 Jul 2020, 18:25 • #4 
Sport
Joined: 09/10/18
Posts: 52
Location: US-NE
Thanks for the post! Great photos and narrative as always!


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 01:40 • #5 
Master Guide
Joined: 01/03/06
Posts: 642
Location: US-VA
so much appreciated the walk... truly special sights and so many of them.Enjoy...


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 02:26 • #6 
Sport
Joined: 11/15/17
Posts: 31
Location: San Diego,California
Outstanding Pictures!! Thank You!!


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 04:02 • #7 
Guide
Joined: 09/05/17
Posts: 129
Location: On a Stream
Great read and pics, thank you. Curious as to why eastern Char (brookies) were stocked in the Sierras.


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 08:21 • #8 
Guide
Joined: 01/11/17
Posts: 204
Location: Missouri Ozarks
Gorgeous country, fish and photos. Thanks for sharing.


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 09:15 • #9 
Master Guide
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 855
Location: SJC
Thanks everyone.

Great question about the brookies. I have read that in many areas of the Sierra all the lakes above 6000' were devoid of fish originally. Probably none of the fish I caught on this trip were native to their waterways (which kind of makes me feel less guilty about catching them :) ).

I have read about some of the old time Sierra mountaineers like Norman Clyde, who in addition to climbing many peaks would also go around planting fish in many of the lakes. This was of course before things like the Wilderness Act, and various scientific discoveries related to ecology. I am sure that this kind of thing helped the many horse packing businesses (almost every east side trailhead has one).

These days, non-native fish are being actively removed from many lakes to protect native amphibian life (such as in national parks), or native fish life (such as in the Lake Tahoe basin). The story of the Paiute cutthroat trout is worth a read sometime, too.

But on the other hand many areas in national forests are still actively managed for fishing. Fish are still aerially stocked in a lot of lakes. Probably worth discussing with a fish biologist sometime.


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 11:11 • #10 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/09/10
Posts: 1189
Location: US-CA
Hat's off to you!
Very nice.


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 16:49 • #11 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/19/08
Posts: 2430
Location: Seattle, WA
Woof!


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Post 13 Jul 2020, 19:50 • #12 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/26/14
Posts: 2777
Location: US-MN
Another awesome report!


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Post 14 Jul 2020, 08:08 • #13 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 10/18/12
Posts: 1347
Location: Bozeman, MT
Excellent!


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Post 14 Jul 2020, 09:10 • #14 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/07/12
Posts: 410
Location: US-CA
There is a great book on the general topic of planting fish called “An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How the Rainbow Trout Beguiled America.”

It touches on planting trout in the Sierra (and all over the west). Worth a read...


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Post 14 Jul 2020, 12:15 • #15 
Guide
Joined: 03/24/14
Posts: 213
Location: US-CA
Holy smokes that is beautiful country/fish! Thanks for documenting your hike, that is an amazing part of the country.


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Post 14 Jul 2020, 16:39 • #16 
Master Guide
Joined: 05/16/10
Posts: 701
Location: South of Houston, TX
I sure do enjoy your posts. The kids came in and we reviewed the slide show, with oohs and aahs at all of the mountains. Thanks for sharing and bringing us along.


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Post 14 Jul 2020, 17:02 • #17 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/10/07
Posts: 1359
Location: Netherlands
Amazing!


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Post 14 Jul 2020, 21:47 • #18 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 2095
Location: US-CO
Your posts make me jealous. I love the white granite of the California high country. Thank you for sharing this beautiful trip with us. Can I ask how far you hiked on this day?


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Post 15 Jul 2020, 09:54 • #19 
Master Guide
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 855
Location: SJC
Thanks again everyone.

Trip stats over the four day trip were about 29 miles / 6900' elevation gain. Shortest day was 3 miles, longest about 12.


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Post 15 Jul 2020, 22:57 • #20 
New Member
Joined: 12/11/19
Posts: 21
Location: Inland Empire - CA
Awesome, thanks for sharing. The fish you caught look healthy and that first golden was a real trophy.


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Post 17 Jul 2020, 20:42 • #21 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/12/16
Posts: 3704
Location: USA-CO
Another wonderful trip. Keep those reports coming!


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Post 18 Jul 2020, 05:18 • #22 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16322
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Excellent results - as usual. Great photos all around, good eye, and an especially pretty creek.
Love summertime snow remnant.


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Post 18 Jul 2020, 10:05 • #23 
Guide
Joined: 04/03/19
Posts: 202
Location: CO
Wow, what a trip! Interesting to read about where treeline is there in the Sierras. Here it’s at ~12,000’. Reminds me of some of the places at the top of the world that I fish. Great write-up!


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Post 18 Jul 2020, 13:49 • #24 
New Member
Joined: 01/05/18
Posts: 22
Location: US-WI
Great pics. I've only been to the Sierras once and I miss it.


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Post 20 Jul 2020, 10:56 • #25 
Master Guide
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 855
Location: SJC
Thanks all.

Actually, treeline in the Sierra varies considerably from north to south -

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_ ... lpine_zone

This area is probably what can be considered "central" -- treeline is lower further north, and higher further south.

In the far north part of the state, on Mt Shasta (one of the California 14'ers), treeline is probably only 8000'. On Mt Rainier in Washington state (another 14'er), treeline is only about 6500-7500'.

The effect of increasing latitude and increasing altitude are similar -- this was first noted by Alexander von Humboldt in the 18th or 19th century.


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