Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar
BESON
Topix Novice
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:29 pm
Experience: Level 1 Hiker

Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by BESON » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:21 pm

I'm hoping to take a trip out of Maxon trailhead near Courtright later this week, assuming I can get a walk up permit (should it be an issue mid-week?). I've got a lot of day hiking experience and a little backpacking experience. I feel most comfortable sticking to trails and while I'm learning the basics with map and compass, I don't really have the experience or skills for cross country travel, which has me a bit concerned in relation to my trip plan and a map I have ...

I was thinking to hike to Fleming Lake for night one. Then to Disappointment Lake and Hell for Sure and camp near Devil's Punchbowl on day two. Then probably to the North Fork of the Kings and to the post Corral Meadows area for night three. And day four back to the trailhead.

The only paper map I've got is a Tom Harrison one. That map lists part of the stretch from Post Corral to Fleming as infrequently maintained. Similarly, from Fleming to Disappointment to Hell for Sure and back to Devil's Punchbowl is listed as either infrequently maintained or primitive. But as I've looked at CalTopo, they don't make any distinctions in this section - it all shows solid trails. As I've done some sleuthing around, I've seen a good number of photos of trail signs, which leads me to believe that the trails in this stretch are easy enough to follow. But I wanted to see what others might say - any sense of what the "secondary" or "infrequently maintained" designations are trying to convey in this stretch? Would these be hard to follow for someone without a lot of experience?


Brian






User avatar
rightstar76
Topix Expert
Posts: 725
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by rightstar76 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:26 am

Hi Beson. No worries. You are following well used trails, just not as frequently maintained like the John Muir Trail. In other words, there may be trees blocking the trail in some places and a few places where the trail tread looks more like a path. Overall, it should be easy to follow.

If it were me, I wouldn't do the loop and instead make a simple out and back trip. In my opinion, there's not much to see after Devil's Punchbowl. I would also skip camping at Post Corral Creek near the trail junction (I assume that's what you were referring to when you said Post Corral Meadows area) and stay two nights at Devil's Punchbowl. If you're in good physical shape, you can walk all the way back to the trailhead the same day. Of course, staying at Post Corral Creek means a shorter and easier last day.

Have a great trip!

User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Addict
Posts: 2722
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:41 am

Some of the trails are faint, particularly ones going through meadows. As one of the maintainers I can tell you there will be trees down, but the trail will be there most of the time. I would read "infrequently maintained" as not maintained -- there are not many of us left maintaining trails, and the FS crew hits the main ones. They will do the trail to Blackcap Basin from Maxson trailhead but the side trails don't always get cleared. Volunteer crews have few volunteers, as there is a perception that somehow trail crew is back breaking work.... Most volunteer crews are retired folks tho.

In any case, take your map and have fun. The last time I was up in that basin we walked cross country to Black Rock and then to Devil's Punchbowl instead of using the trail. It's a fairly straightforward thing to do even if for some reason you can't find the trail. Permits are never an issue in this part of the Sierra unless you are trying to get into Dinkey or Kaiser Wilderness on a weekend.

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1927
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by balzaccom » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:16 am

We did this trip in reverse a few years ago, and had no trouble finding any part of the trails. Things may be worse now, but I doubt you'll have problems.

One note--that is a steep climb up from Post Corral to Fleming, especially if that is your first day above sea level and with a full pack.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Addict
Posts: 2722
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:40 am

I'm taking a group in August - the first night is at Post Corral, because the climb from there is fairly steep and I want to start the group up it early in the morning, rather than subject them to full sun on a dusty steep climb at 3 pm. The seven miles to Post Corral with the heaviest pack of the trip will be enough for the occasional backpacker to handle....

Right now btw the satellite shots are showing snow around Hell for Sure and some of the higher lakes in the basin. It shouldn't be a problem really but it's there. The melt is still going, but not as torrential as it's been. Do take sufficient mosquito repellant... I have my clothes all soaked in permethrin and have not needed to use much myself but others have been attacked.

User avatar
tlsharb
Topix Regular
Posts: 138
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:05 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by tlsharb » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:55 am

Beson, I was up there last August, and the trails are fine. If you don't mind an extra half mile on the first day, camping on the north side of Rae Lake is pretty nice compared to what you will find at Fleming (which could be a real mosquito factory right now). If you are really sketchy about going off trail, I'd take the trail to the Punchbowl (which cuts off right before you hit Disappointment Lk), set up camp and go explore the lakes that dump into the Punchbowl (Big and Little Shot). Or drop you pack at the Punchbowl cutoff and head up the trail to see Disappointment and Hell for Sure (they are very pretty) before going to DP. The trail from the Punchbowl down to the Kings River is pretty, with some great meadows along the way. Camping down on the river is really nice, especially in a high snow year. If you camp on the river right where the trail heads up and over to Post Corral, you've got about an 11 mile (pretty easy) last day.

User avatar
mkbgdns
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:43 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by mkbgdns » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:46 am

not sure if you're backtracking from Punchbowl, or going down Meadow Brook, but the latter has the sketchiest leg of the loop. I, too, did this loop in the other direction years ago, and you'll like it. maybe a little lost-and-found with the Meadow Brook trail, but if you're patient, you'll always get found. save weight and ditch the compass.

User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 578
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by sekihiker » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:50 pm

This is an ideal area to cut your teeth on cross country travel. It is easy to see landmarks from almost anywhere in the Red Mountain Basin. For my take on the area, visit: http://www.sierrahiker.com/RedMountainBasin/index.html

User avatar
nvted
Topix Novice
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:26 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by nvted » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:28 pm

I stayed night 1 at Fleming. Mosquito madness, but otherwise I enjoyed the scenery and grassy shore. Good distance in too, getting all the forest walking out of the way on day 1. Don't miss Horseshoe Lake by HFS. Tops in my book for that basin. As others have said, I found trails easy to follow, and cross country was straightforward due to the nature of that upper basin. Fun for me. I visited in 2015, so not super recent.

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4624
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Courtright - Fleming - Disappointment Lake - Devil's Punchbowl ?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:25 am

Years ago, on a trip to Red Mountain Basin, I met a fellow on the trail who said (I do not know if he was pulling my leg or not) he observed a plane literally drop fish into Fleming Lake. Well, I camped there, and there WERE nice fish there, but I could not catch one. The lake has very long grass in the shallows and all I did was snag my fly. I also thought it was a really nice campsite, but then, it was late August and no bugs.

I walked up to the upper lakes, and found them less appealing. But, again, it was late season and everything was dried up and looked very "tired". Mosquito Pass is pretty impressive- the view is straight down to Heather Lake. Lower Indian Lake was very bleak. Hell For Sure Lake was also a bit bleak for me. My favorite campsite was out on the peninsula of Horseshoe Lake. Devils Punchbowl and Big Shot Lake are also both very scenic.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 9 guests