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Trip Report: East Lake from Kearsarge Pass - June 6/21-6/26

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:15 am
by compeanja
SUN, 21: My father, two friends, and I left Morro Bay around 12:30pm, picked up permits from the night box at the Eastern Sierra Inter-Agency Visitors Center, then arrived at Onion Valley TH by around 7pm. We ate a quick dinner while doing a last bit of pack organizing, then hit the trail and hustled up to Gilbert Lake for the night.

MON, 22: We took our time the next morning and didn't get on the trail until after 8am. The trail was already warm at that time, so it was nice to hit the pass less than 90 minutes later and cool off in the breeze while waiting for the two young ones in our group to catch up. We then continued down more hot trails and had lunch by a nice fishing pool in Lower Vidette Meadows. I'm not actually a fisherman myself, yet I managed to hook a Brookie on my first cast. We would have stayed longer but the mosquitoes were too intense in the shade and the sun was too intense out of the shade, so we put our packs back on any followed more warm trail down to Junction Meadows. We pitched our tents in the horse camp there and enjoyed a bit more fishing before dinner. Originally our goal for the day had been to camp a bit past where Charlotte Creek flows into Bubbs Creek because we were planing on hiking and fishing the Rae Lakes Loop. However, after more than 3,000 ft of steady downhill from Kearsarge Pass, one of my friends was feeling it bad in his knee, and the other was simply exhausted. So we contented ourselves with a shorter day and decided to change the itinerary. for the coming days as well.

TUES, 23: We tried to get an earlier start to avoid more hot trails, but when hiking with younger guys there is apparently no such thing as a true alpine start. The previous night we had decided to head up to East Lake, hearing that the fishing was good from a Rick. So the day started by fording Bubbs Creek almost directly behind our campsite, then bushwhacking along the South shore until we came across the trail. After about two hours of slow, hot uphill we arrived at the far side of East Lake, where the stream feeds into it. The weather was still quite warm, and the mosquitoes were out in force, so we all decided the best way to cope was to get to fishing; with the cool lake water lapping at our feet and a gentle breeze freeing the shoreline of flying pests, it was the perfect place to be. As I said before, I don't really know what I'm doing with a rod, yet somehow that didn't stop me from pulling in trout after trout for that whole afternoon and evening. I had never realized that torturing poor defenseless fish could be so fun!

WED, 24: We spent the whole morning fishing some more, lazily walking around the shore of the lake and trying different flies and spinners. At some point we felt the earthquake that closed down Whitney Portal, but other than being startled, were not affected. Finally, around 3pm we hit the trail we had come up the previous day. We found a different crossing of Bubbs Creek, for the way back; it was deeper and more swift than the other crossing near the horse camp, but it was closer to the official crossing, and therefore required less bushwhacking. Once across we made our way up the lazy switchbacks to Lower Vidette Meadows and set up out tents. One of my friends dropped some flies into the creek, but the mosquitoes were bad enough to rush the rest of us into a quick dinner and early bedtime.

THURS, 25: We finally were able to get everyone up for a somewhat early start, and hit the trail before 7:30am. My father had left even a few minutes before. My two friends and I continued up the trail and by 9:30am we had reached Kearsarge Lakes, where we had planned to camp. We hadn't seen my father anywhere along the trail, but that wasn't totally unusual as he is the fastest among us and also had been routinely failing to wait at trail-junctions throughout the previous few days. However, when we arrived at the lakes, our final destination for the day, and he was nowhere in sight, we all began to worry a bit. Then around 2:30pm, about 5 hours after we had gotten to the lakes, he finally showed up; apparently he had taken the wrong turn at the very first trail junction, and walked up towards Forester Pass instead of Kearsarge pass. He eventually realized his mistake and made his way back, but not without putting in an extra 9 miles. Luckily, he is a trail runner so the extra miles didn't hurt him too much. We all spent the rest of the afternoon trying to catch fish (only my buddy with the fly rod had any luck there), reading, and napping.

FRI, 26: We got another early start and were at the pass before 9am. Then it was just a few hot downhill miles back to our car. We were able to grab an early lunch in Lone Pine before driving back to Morro Bay. Overall, not the trip I had planned but still very good. Beautiful country up there.

Re: Trip Report: East Lake from Kearsarge Pass - June 6/21-6/26

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:37 pm
by mckee80
Thanks for the report! That area is on my list!

Re: Trip Report: East Lake from Kearsarge Pass - June 6/21-6/26

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:41 pm
by cgundersen
Thanks for the report! And, glad to see that older dudes can make wrong turns; I've noticed myself doing that more frequently, so now I let my wife navigate! Anyway, you get kudos for one of the first TRs of the year. Cg

Re: Trip Report: East Lake from Kearsarge Pass - June 6/21-6/26

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:41 am
by gary c.
Very nice

Re: Trip Report: East Lake from Kearsarge Pass - June 6/21-6/26

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:33 pm
by wildhiker
Thanks for the nice report. This is another area on my list of "can't believe I haven't been back to..." since I was last there in 1975!