Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

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canukyea
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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by canukyea » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:30 am

Jumble Pass, is that the same as one as Dancing Bear Pass? If so, descending all the way to Jumble Lake and then brute forcing your way up a talus strewn gully looks awful.

Props to Dawn for doing all those cross country passes and for starting a golden trout success streak. That is serious inspiration for the rest of us.

I was curious about one thing you mentioned regarding midsummer fishing. In the 2015 trip compared to the trip this year, which probably would be similar on timing given both are lower snowpack years and around the late July / early August timeframe, what explains the one hour of very fast fishing in 2015 vs the more consistent but not red hot fishing of this year? Perhaps just a matter of luck or maybe summer weather patterns?








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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by cgundersen » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:09 am

Hi John, Frankly, I'd never considered going up that side of Pine Creek canyon, simply because the mine/road made it look too industrial. But, obviously once one gets past the first pitches, it improves dramatically! And, I'd bet that signs of traffic on that route were minimal. I have hit some wild weather in that area too, and I've always wondered whether Edison and Florence seed the clouds which then erupt at higher elevation. I know that my first time over Cox col was with lightning licking our heels, and that's not a way to tackle Cox. Still, you guys had enough glorious blue (and golden) mixed in to compensate. Finally, I was impressed that Granite-Bear pass still had as much snow as your photo showed.Great TR! Thanks, Cameron

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:41 pm

canukyea wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:30 am
Jumble Pass, is that the same as one as Dancing Bear Pass? If so, descending all the way to Jumble Lake and then brute forcing your way up a talus strewn gully looks awful.

Props to Dawn for doing all those cross country passes and for starting a golden trout success streak. That is serious inspiration for the rest of us.

I was curious about one thing you mentioned regarding midsummer fishing. In the 2015 trip compared to the trip this year, which probably would be similar on timing given both are lower snowpack years and around the late July / early August timeframe, what explains the one hour of very fast fishing in 2015 vs the more consistent but not red hot fishing of this year? Perhaps just a matter of luck or maybe summer weather patterns?
I tend not to keep track of all of the pass names, but I think you're right (whichever pass leads to White Bear L. from the Jumble L. area). This fellow apparently succeeded but he sure suffered more than he had to. Even on his unnecessary ascent he could have made things less miserable with a few well placed zigs and zags but he chose a very direct line with the steepest gradient for anything on the slope that was not a cliff.

Your thoughts on midsummer golden and comparison with 2015 are interesting and I don't have an answer. In fact this year played a bit "earlier" and "colder" than 2015--a lot more snow on the same places we traversed in 2015 (such as Not Cox, for example). Two other diehard Topix fishing folks did trips that overlapped this area in the week or week and a half before we went and they encountered slow fishing, too, which they attributed to midsummer conditions. Whereas it is clear that hitting those golden lakes soon after the thaw tends to result in the most consistently active fish, which is why Chuck Yeager would overfly the Whitney Sierra area to check on thaw before backpacking in to his favorite premium golden lakes, the midsummer slowness of High Sierra golden lakes is not uniform or consistent at all, with much day-to-day and lake-to-lake variabillity.

Your comparison to the 2015 trip is a case in point. In fact there were only two lakes I'd say fished slow (two skunk jobs) on the 2015 trip, although one might argue that those were 2 of the 3 lakes with low density populations, which would make 2015 and 2020 conditions more or less equivalent (had two hot streaks--one pm and one am--at one of the three premium lakes on this trip, but the top end was only 15" instead of the 18" plus the ginormous break off job of 2015 (size estimate of said culprit would seem to correspond nicely with visual size estimates or the impressive cruisers this year). I think the day-to-day weather patterns such as storms, warmer/colder, etc. are probably crucial, too, along with the specific time one happens to be fishing a given lake. On the Deso trip, I caught 4 fat brookies (lost first one that came off and slithered into lake) in about 15 casts in the afternoon, but a visitor to the same lake during most of the day could have fished and observed the lake for several hours and encountered no evidence of a trout population there.

I guess the positive way to see this is that whereas midsummer golden fishing is not as successful as fishing soon after the thaw, there are commonly some times of decent fishing, even at the low density premium lakes. A key to having a good fishing trip is to have a mix of lakes so that there are some lakes of medium to higher population density to nearby to serve as skunk insurance. This route featured quite a few of those and one particularly good question mark (did not know going in that it even had fish before visiting it) that was the volume producer of the trip (Dawn caught 8 and I caught 5 in the space of about 30 min, with strikes on about 2/3 of our casts) and actually had decent sized fish (top end 12.5" for me w theoretical top end a bit larger).
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:55 pm

cgundersen wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:09 am
Hi John, Frankly, I'd never considered going up that side of Pine Creek canyon, simply because the mine/road made it look too industrial. But, obviously once one gets past the first pitches, it improves dramatically! And, I'd bet that signs of traffic on that route were minimal. I have hit some wild weather in that area too, and I've always wondered whether Edison and Florence seed the clouds which then erupt at higher elevation. I know that my first time over Cox col was with lightning licking our heels, and that's not a way to tackle Cox. Still, you guys had enough glorious blue (and golden) mixed in to compensate. Finally, I was impressed that Granite-Bear pass still had as much snow as your photo showed.Great TR! Thanks, Cameron
Yes, only the first part of the road, from the Pine Creek TH to the mine (1 mi or less and 500' gain) is industrial given that it provides access for a number of folks still working there. Beyond that, however, it is unmaintained and very wild. When I mentioned we didn't see anyone past the trailhead I forgot that we did meet one adventurous couple descending the trail from Little Lakes Valley (as dayhikers). We met them a smidge above the higher wash out and I figured they must be doing a shuttle day hike (ie LLV to Pine Creek). Other than that, we saw no one on that trail and there were few footprints on the trail tread indicating very light use.

Regarding the dynamic weather, maybe Dawn brings that with her because we've been hit by very fierce thunderstorms on all four of our featured trips (2017 Deso, 2018 Silver Divide, 2019 Clark Range are the previous three). The 2015 trip had a fairly threatening weather forecast and Todd and I were rained on during a day zero hike out of Mammoth, but not a drop of rain fell on us for the main backpacking trip, which was a good thing given the long distances covered and off trail passes crossed during that trip.

For Granite-Bear, yes that is a surprising amount of snow for late July which is consistent with the snow we saw elsewhere (N side of Peppemint/E side of Cox, for example) which was surprising given the relatively light winter. I think this reflects the fairly significant late season snow accumulation and relatively cool spring. Of note, though, is that although the snow patch choked part of Granite-Bear, there was plenty of class 2 talus/scree passage on either side of it, and it looks to me that one could have gone through that pass and avoided the steep snow at least one week earlier.
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by levi » Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:28 pm

Really enjoyed reading this report!

I'm heading out for a short trip in that vicinity (wish I had the time for a full week), I was a little surprised by the amount of snow apparently lingering in "North Col" according to the weekly satellite layer in CalTopo. I'm heartened by your confirmation that the mellower approach to that high point does, in fact, go (albeit with a little snow wrangling as you mentioned). Between the surprising amount of stubborn snow for a low snow year, the high elevation thunderstorms, AND the pandemic, it's proving to be an interesting Sierra summer.

While planning my trip I had also eyed that mining road from Pine Creek. Seems like it's worth it, as cgunderson noted, for the solitude once you're higher up... I'll be saving that for a future trip.

As always, appreciate all the information generated by each of these reports, especially from users who have a lot more Sierra experience than I do, and a strong reminder to me to finally write up and post the handful of short trips I've done in the last season or two :)

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by canukyea » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:01 pm

giantbrookie wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:41 pm
Your thoughts on midsummer golden and comparison with 2015 are interesting and I don't have an answer.
Well I guess that's why they call it fishing and not "I have it dialed down to always catch monster trout and never get skunked." :D

That's a pretty in depth analysis of two fishing years, regardless of whether we know why, it's still fun to theorize. On the whole, I'd guess this year is actually very similar on the whole to 2015 for fishing but there will be some differences that are impossible to predict. From my not very organized notes, I found 2015 overall slower than this year. Luck? Experience? Who knows.

One thing I've found for trying to be at golden lakes during ice out, however, seeing the fish is one thing but getting their attention is another. If just slightly too late, they get quite preoccupied with spawning, and it may be worse than being there during the height of summer.

The strategy of mixing trophy lakes with more average lakes and trying to be there early morning or late afternoon is a good one for longer trips. As for day hiking, well, fall can't come soon enough.

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by kpeter » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:40 pm

Superb trail report that I read all the way through, made so much better by the involvement of your daughter and friend!

In Little Lakes Valley I have encountered several groups who used Gem Lakes as a launching point for the Spire viciinity--wonder if that is any easier (since a much higher trailhead) than Pine Creek.

I am in awe of the ease with which you and Dawn do so many cross country passes. Even doing one or two is a big deal for me. You must have excellent micro-route finding experience and an absolutely fearless daughter.

Congratulations on such an excellent trip with a loved one, in such a difficult time. That will give you both the strength to get through the next year, I am sure.

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:20 pm

kpeter wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:40 pm
In Little Lakes Valley I have encountered several groups who used Gem Lakes as a launching point for the Spire viciinity--wonder if that is any easier (since a much higher trailhead) than Pine Creek.
Thanks for your post. Regarding LLV instead of Pine Creek for getting to Spire, it is in fact much easier. I first went that way doing an overnight loop with Judy in 1996 (looping out to Morgan Pass by way of Finch Lake (approx) on day 2. In 2015 Gold at the End of the Rainbow I opened by going into Spire from LLV. I think the most efficient way in from LLV is to actually split off to the Treasure Lakes, then climb to Dade Lake before going over Peppermint Pass. This is how I went with Judy in 1996 whereas with Todd in 2015 I went via Gem.

This year the choice of trailhead was for several reasons. First off I couldn't get a wilderness permit for my preferred range of entry dates for LLV whereas I could for Pine Creek. Second, I'd never been to Bear Lake (had visited Split in 1996 and Spire in 1996 and 2015) and was curious about it and I'd never done the Morgan Pass trail and it sounded interesting, if a bit ominous. Third is that there was a bit of uncertainty whether Todd could make it so I couldn't count on having a two car arrangement (see below). I suppose if I had gotten the LLV permit as well as knowing for sure Todd would make it, I would have avoided the Bear-Split-Spire combo altogether, done a LLV to Pine Creek shuttle, and tried the original audacious day 1 plan of going all the way to Upper Mills Creek Lake from LLV on day 1. The original game plan called for two layover days instead of one: one at Upper Mills Creek L (to recover after a monster day 1) in addition to the Teddy/Brown Bear stop which we did on this version.
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by robertseeburger » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:41 am

Great report.. nice to see Dawn catch a big golden.. Looks bigger than you describe!

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Re: Morgan-Pine Creek etc 7/21-28 (Gold at End of Rainbow II)

Post by cgundersen » Mon Aug 03, 2020 6:06 pm

Hi John,
Well, maybe now that Dawn got past the golden barrier, your luck with the weather will change? The guy I've been doing trips with the last decade seems to attract storms, too, but last year, we got lucky and had mostly blue sky throughout. It makes being on exposed ridges a little less nerve wracking. Yep, that snow tongue in Granite Bear is a pretty steady reality, and the only time I saw it clear out was in the height of the drought. Still, I've invariably tended to cling to the north wall, it really does not matter as long as there's a bit of dirt.And, thanks again for a delightful TR.
Cameron

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