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Post 15 Jun 2021, 17:01 • #1 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 1108
Location: SJC
It's been another dry year -- snow surveys in April reported 50-60% of normal snowpack. I'd been out over Labor Day weekend, checked the latest satellite photos online and called up the ranger station. Time to head for the high country.

I knew the bugs would be bad, so I dosed my shirt, pants and hat with permethrin and packed the bug juice. Got a wee-hours start, drove across the central valley, and up into the foothills, where I collected my wilderness permit from the USFS overnight drop box, and then up into the mountains. The trailhead didn't look all that busy. I managed to get started hiking around 10am.

I'd been up this trail last year about this time, but headed for a different destination. This time I stopped in the meadow near the creek for lunch, and was immediately swarmed by mosquitoes. Yep, it's that time of year. The skeeters didn't seem to be landing on me though.

I continued downhill through the woods, and heard the rushing of a creek, which I briefly investigated.

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Looked like small brookies. I'd brought a tenkara rod, but didn't feel like stopping -- I had a ways to go yet, and a steep climb ahead of me. Shortly I came to a crossing of the same creek. Tiny fish spooked as I crossed. Low snow year; I didn't bother packing wading shoes.

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I spent the afternoon heading steadily uphill. Around 9500' I planned to take a cross-country shortcut to a lake, but got sidetracked by another creek, unexpectedly pretty and full of water.

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I saw fish, and caught a few on my tenkara rod.

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Golden trout, or more likely rainbow / golden hybrids, and a few brookies, too. I was surprised. It was now late afternoon, and I realized my cross-country plans would have to wait for tomorrow. I found a flat area in the forest above the creek around 9800', amid granite boulders where it looked like others had camped. It had been chilly for the past week, and got down into the thirties overnight, which kept the mosquitoes at bay. In early morning I awoke to hear a loud sound, like a bear ripping up a log, looking for grubs. Sure glad I brought the canister :)

I got moving around 7:30, and admired the creek again.

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I stopped by a couple of nearby lakes. Nothing seemed to be happening there, so I moved on.

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I looked at the map and decided to take another cross-country detour, and headed up through the woods and granite to another lake at around 10300'.

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I saw a fish cruising the shallows. Now that's what I'm talking about :) I got out my Orvis Superfine Glass 4wt and tossed out a hopper.

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An adult damsel imitation worked, too. Funny, it isn't even July yet ...

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I walked around the lake catching brookies. I was on my way back to my pack, and near the outlet I surprised a small black bear, which immediately took off running. I instantly regretted leaving my pack unattended, but fortunately the ursa had not discovered where I stashed it :)

This trip was about exploring a new area for me, so I headed up over the ridge and descended back to another trail, to a junction and up a couple hundred feet. If I'd kept going I'd cross over into Kings Canyon National Park, but not this time. Instead I descended to another scenic lake.

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The water here was rippled by a breeze, perfect for tossing hoppers. I stopped for some lunch, and caught a few brookies on the SFG.

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Time to mosey. I'd formed a plan, and headed up the granite slabs, then down to another lake at around 10400'.

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The water here was startlingly clear. I would have to be a bit stealthy. I still had a few grizzly baitfish buggers I tied using little kern golden's recipe, and lobbed one out, counting to ten or twelve, then a slow retrieve. These were unusually effective at drawing out fish lying in wait.

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I'm going to guess these were rainbow-golden hybrids. I guess we know what two species of fingerlings the airplanes have been dropping in this area :)

Finally I got going in mid-afternoon and started slogging uphill again. Around 4pm-ish I was up at my destination, and found a spot above the lake in the granite at about 10800'.

Tarn
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Main lake
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The brookies here were not particularly shy. I suspect nobody had been up here since last autumn. After making camp and fetching water I fished the SFG.

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The fish were eager and numerous. The next time I visit I will definitely bring a frying pan.

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The mosquitoes were bad here, too. It was surprisingly warm overnight, but just cool enough that the bugs disappeared before bedtime.

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I got started next morning around 7:40 -- it was going to be a long hike back to the car. I had a few more lakes to visit, though. After about an hour I'd made my way down past the outlet stream, on broken granite and contouring into the forest, to a lake at around 10200'.

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The fish here were active, jumping and splashing. Looked like another lake with lots of brookies. Pretty spot. A short descent on granite slabs to another small but pretty lake. Looked like brookies here, too.

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I kept moving, and descended to just under 10000' to a larger lake, surrounded by granite. A stiff breeze rippled the surface of the water.

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LKG's baitfish buggers again did the trick, though I tossed out a foam hopper or two just for variety.

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Orvis SFG with Galvan Brookie reel
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Checklist officially ticked, I decided to get moving. I had a ways to go. Down into a drainage, back up, stop for a break at another lake. Then the long descent.

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I got back to the car shortly before 5pm, after a 17 mile day. So. Very. Tired. I will pack the skillet next time :)


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Post 15 Jun 2021, 17:35 • #2 
Guide
Joined: 11/23/14
Posts: 182
Location: US-TX
Thanks for recording this journey. A very enjoyable read. Stunning photos and I'm sure they don't do justice to the live views. The area must be peppered with lakes.


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Post 15 Jun 2021, 18:06 • #3 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/23/05
Posts: 4520
Location: US-MT
Tin foil is a whole lot lighter than a skillet and works well :)

Dang nice pics, thank you. I'm not sure I would ever come back to humanity....


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Post 15 Jun 2021, 18:32 • #4 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/16/05
Posts: 2159
Location: Georgia
Beautiful pics. Thanks.


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Post 15 Jun 2021, 18:53 • #5 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 01/02/12
Posts: 1658
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Excellent post! Enjoyed the journey. Back when, I would take some tinfoil, wrap the fish in it with some butter/herbs, then put it on a rock near the hot coals of the campfire. Probably wouldn’t work these days with open fire restrictions.


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Post 15 Jun 2021, 21:45 • #6 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/07/12
Posts: 615
Location: US-CA
Yeah, cooking fish is a challenge - when I was a kid we would use the tinfoil technique, but no fires at altitude foreclose that option. Modern tiny stoves are really hard to use without a fairly heavy frying pan to spread the heat. I was wondering if maybe there is a way to poach trout in a light titanium pan?

Great pics and story, btw. Did you hike through any burned areas?


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Post 16 Jun 2021, 03:19 • #7 
Guide
Joined: 03/12/15
Posts: 225
Location: US-CT
just spectacular- we just do not have places like this in the New England states.
Darn, I sold all of my backpacking gear a few years back. Very very dumb move.
thanks for sharing


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Post 16 Jun 2021, 09:38 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 1108
Location: SJC
Thanks all.

Skunkedalot -- that just means you can start over fresh. There is something liberating about a new start :)

Re: campfires -- not a fan, personally. Smoky, and incompatible with Leave No Trace. They are prohibited now in many high elevation areas, and in a dry year like this one the national forests have declared fire restrictions early anyway.

There are a number of ways to cook trout. I like to bring a remote canister stove -- my favorite is the Kovea Spider. I use either an older MSR Flex skillet (8"), or a Trangia hard anodized 8.5" skillet (with a pot lifter). Clean/gut the trout, add a bit of olive oil, wrap in foil, cook until done. The main issue though is cleanup; need to usually have soap and water and some way of cleaning the oil off my hands. Very smelly and messy business; somewhat iffy in bear country.

I have a swallowing disorder due to an old spinal surgery that makes it difficult to eat most solid foods (tried to correct it via another surgery, but was unsuccessful). So I have to be careful about what I eat -- soft fish works, though.

Cooking a trout in the backcountry is just kind of a luxury experience. I suppose the more efficient way to go would be to simply bring foil packets of fish from the grocery store :) If I'm exploring & trying to cover the miles then I skip it.

Edit: nothing burned this far east during the Creek fire last year, but driving up to Shaver Lake from Prather was interesting... a lot of bare hillsides now where there used to be forest. A lot of structures burned. I'd originally planned to visit this area over Labor Day last year, but fortuitously changed my mind at the last minute; glad I did, because otherwise I would have had to take a helicopter ride to get out ...


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Post 16 Jun 2021, 10:55 • #9 
Sport
Joined: 01/11/21
Posts: 72
Location: NY (upstate/downstate)
Wow... Wonderful pictures and trip report.

I almost felt like I was there!


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Post 16 Jun 2021, 11:00 • #10 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 464
Location: Arkansas
Reminds me of hitting up those far off places in British Columbia.


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Post 16 Jun 2021, 11:14 • #11 
Master Guide
Joined: 11/11/13
Posts: 504
Location: US-CA
Odonata, as usual an amazing adventure. You must be a real stud to be hiking at those altitudes just amazing. Wonderful pictures that one rainbow with the really rosy red gill plate is a real stunner.


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Post 16 Jun 2021, 17:00 • #12 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 2259
Location: US-CO
Beautiful trip and terrific photos. Thanks for sharing this trip. Makes me envious. Not sure I would find 17 miles in these legs, however, especially at that altitude. I bet you were tired. Great story!


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Post 17 Jun 2021, 16:04 • #13 
Guide
Joined: 10/14/19
Posts: 108
Location: Tauranga, New Zealand
Beautiful pictures and fish. Thanks for sharing. Cheers


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Post 17 Jun 2021, 16:12 • #14 
Guide
Joined: 09/10/18
Posts: 120
Location: Alberta, Canada
Beautiful pictures. Loved seeing the fish and scenery. Thank you for the wonderful report.


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Post 18 Jun 2021, 08:12 • #15 
Master Guide
Joined: 09/28/13
Posts: 435
Location: Boston MA
Beautiful trip. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed your recount and photos.


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Post 23 Jun 2021, 19:00 • #16 
Guide
Joined: 03/24/14
Posts: 215
Location: US-CA
Wow. Thanks for posting with such good pics.


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Post 24 Jun 2021, 07:20 • #17 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/26/14
Posts: 3173
Location: US-MN
Loved it! Thanks for sharing!


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Post 24 Jun 2021, 11:56 • #18 
Guide
Joined: 09/05/17
Posts: 158
Location: On a Stream
Beautiful, thank you for sharing. It always amazes me when I see a post like this, how Brook Trout, native only to the eastern states wind up in those high western mountain lakes.


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Post 24 Jun 2021, 15:54 • #19 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 04/25/16
Posts: 1014
Location: Rocky Mountains - Colorado
Very cool adventure...thanks for the pics and story of the trip.


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Post 27 Jun 2021, 13:06 • #20 
New Member
Joined: 01/09/21
Posts: 21
Totally awesome pics. I'm curious about your route - where exactly you started from and the names of the lakes you visited.


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Post 27 Jun 2021, 15:10 • #21 
Sport
Joined: 08/13/17
Posts: 25
Location: PA
I always love these reports. Thanks for sharing with us!


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Post 28 Jun 2021, 10:27 • #22 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 1108
Location: SJC
Thanks all.

Neuralize - Google indexes these pages, so I have no intention of posting specific info publicly. Best I can do is point you to flyfishingthesierra dot com and suggest you pick up some Tom Harrison maps. Happy hiking.


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