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Desolation Wilderness - Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake

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Desolation Wilderness - Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake

Postby cborjon » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:54 pm

Has anyone tried to backpack up Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake? I am going to hike part of the McConnell loop but at Horseshoe Lake instead of continuing on the trail (if you can call it that) to 4-Q Lakes, I was going to swing north and find Phipps Creek and head east across the Rockbound Valley. I looked at satellite images and a topo map and the part across the Rockbound Valley does not look too bad. However, once you get to the PCT, elevation starts to increase as Phipps Creek nears Phipps Lake. This last portion from the PCT to Phipps Lake looks doable on a topo map, but according to the satellite there is much more vegetation/trees here. Has anyone tried this cross country hike? Is it advisable?

Reason I am skipping 4-Q Lakes is there are NO fish there, and I have heard there are good fish in Phipps Lake. Also time constrained, so I really can't head south on the PCT and go around Phipps Peak to approach the Phipps Lake via Phipps pass.

Thanks!



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Re: Desolation Wilderness - Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:51 pm

I hiked up Phipps Creek from below to the lower Phipps Lake following rumors of enormous brookies. The brush was horrible and the lower lake appeared fishless. I did not continue to the main Phipps Lake that had(?) a good reputation as a good producer of better-than-average sized brookies at least as recently as the late 90s. However, the DFW EIR on Desolation Wilderness reports that the fish of Phipps have become too numerous and are getting stunted. One way or another to reach Phipps Lake you'd have to force your way through the unpleasant brush that tormented me ascending to the lower Phipps.

I am not clear on what route you're following, so it is difficult to offer you better alternatives to Phipps but it seems you have multiple fishing prospects that will be easier to reach from where you're at than Phipps. Note that Highland, Horseshoe, Zitella, and the Leland Lakes are all fishless, too, in addition to the 4Qs, so if fishing a priority, which it seems to be to aim you at Phipps, then perhaps a different trip plan and route is in order. The nearest lake that has fish is Schmidell which has oodles of brookies running to 11".
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Desolation Wilderness - Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake

Postby cborjon » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:36 pm

Thanks for the reply. I had a feeling that there might be a problem with brush. I have read through the CDFGDesolationWildernessABMP_FINAL.pdf and some of the subsequent progress reports, and it looks like in the region of the Desolation Wilderness that we are planning to go through many of the lakes are fishless.

We are coming in from the south via Echo Lakes and will end up exiting at Emerald Bay near where some friends are staying. I would love to do a trip around fishing but it seems like the main goal of this trip is to do the McConnell loop trail.

The pace should be relatively gradual. From Echo Lakes we are heading north via Lake of the Woods and then Aloha, to camp the first night at Clyde Lake. I know Clyde has no fish but maybe I can get a little fishing in at Lake Aloha.

The next day, from Clyde, we are heading to Lake Schmidell. This will probably be my first and best chance to get in some good fishing.

Day three will be when we cover most of the McConnell loop trail. Leaving Lake Schmidell, we will pass the fishless Leland Lakes and head to McConnell Lake. McDonnell from the maps and peoples comments might not be much of a lake. However, from a 2015 CDFW progress report on Leland Lakes, they noted that Golden’s were present in McConnell - “complex meadow and stream habitat around McConnell Lake precludes mechanical removal there.” Question is whether McConnell is a meadow or not.

Since you mentioned that the brush is horrible hiking up Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake, we will probably just stick with the normal plan of heading to 4-Q Lakes (no fish) and then make camp somewhere in the Rockbound Valley on the way to the Velma Lakes. The last couple of days we will probably hike around and check out Fontanillis Lake and Dick’s Lake before heading to Emerald Bay. I have seen reports of fishing in Fontanillis and Dicks but was hoping to hit some places that don’t receive quite the amount of visitation( due to the PCT). It seems like frogs are the priority (rather than fish) in all the lakes in the less visited parts of the Desolation Wilderness.

BTW, I was hoping you would chime in on my inquiry as I am familiar (from Jerry Yesavage’s book) with your fishing expertise in this region. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for some other lakes to visit.

Again thanks for replying on hiking up Phipps Creek.

Chris
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Re: Desolation Wilderness - Phipps Creek to Phipps Lake

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:26 pm

Fontanillis has nicer fish than Dicks. Dicks is a small brookie factory. If you absolutely needed fish to eat, I think Dicks and Schmidell will be very reliable, but the top end fish aren't that large. On the other hand if you're coming out to Emerald Bay, you should check out Lower Velma.

I will be pretty close to this area tomorrow (am in room with family in South Lake Tahoe this evening) dayhiking to my family the famous mackinaw lake. As legendary as the big macks are, today's large cutts will be very hard to top.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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