The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

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windknot
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The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by windknot » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:19 am

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From 2008-2012 I had a run of rather good fortune on nearly all of my Sierra hiking and backpacking trips. I visited the Range of Light dozens of times over these 5 years, from marathon day trips from the Bay Area to 8-day long backpacks, and I can count on one hand the number of times I had to make a major change to a trip itinerary due to weather, road/trail conditions, or sickness/physical conditioning/psychological makeup. After moving out of the country for a few years and then returning before the summer of 2015, I was eager to pick up where I had left off and have continued to make regular visits to the Sierra Nevada despite now living in Seattle. However, since I’ve returned my fortune appears to have run out (or perhaps other external factors outside my control have conspired to throw a wrench in the works). Over the past 4 seasons I’ve attempted 14 different trips in the Sierra and more of them have ended up with altered outcomes than have gone as planned.

Perhaps my perception of (un)satisfactory outcomes has also been influenced by the fact that, with one significant exception, I have not experienced the same quality of backcountry alpine fishing since returning in 2015 that had spoiled me in the years leading up to 2012. Fishing remains one of the primary reasons why I visit the mountains, and so it is also still one of the primary motivators behind my trip planning and my itineraries. I do not have enough hubris to claim that this means that fishing in the Sierra backcountry has declined during this time, but I do point this out to note that, somewhat in the manner of aging athletes past their prime, I am now finding that each of my efforts these days seems to pale in comparison to my memories of the not-so-distant past in some way (be it the seamless execution of a complicated trailless route, or the size of fish in a lake I have finally visited after planning a trip there for years, or the satisfaction of reaching a secluded offtrail lake basin). It could be that this is all just a coincidence, and I’ll rebound with a better-than-average season next year to confound the critics. Perhaps I’m simply suffering the very real consequences of putting all of my eggs into fewer baskets, and have not yet adjusted my expectations accordingly. Or maybe I’m just getting older.

At any rate, I spent another week in the Sierra at the end of August and had a thoroughly enjoyable time, even if my planning proved yet again to be more ambitious than reality.

I flew into Fresno from Seattle on Thursday evening after work, then spent most of the day on Friday purchasing meals for 9 days and gathering up equipment. If I were a wealthier person who cared less about what I ate, I’d have simply bought 36 Mountain House meals and have been done with it. If I didn’t care at all what I ate, I’d have simply bought a BearVault 500 full of instant oatmeal and grits and have been done with it. But I am both cheap and wanted my brothers to enjoy at least part of their backcountry experience, so I raided both the Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only in Sanger as well as the WinCo and Costco in Clovis, and $150.00 later I had a motley assortment of food that I hoped would satisfy everyone. There were the old standbys of ramen and instant oatmeal, as well as Starbucks Via packets for morning coffee and hot chocolate packets for evening dessert. There were ingredients for “cheating” backpacking meals – meals like capellini with pesto and spam and parmesan cheese packets pilfered from Costco’s food court, or Rice Sides with Real Bacon Pieces (cheating because 1. this is of course not lightweight and 2. this barely qualifies as quick-cooking). There was even some dehydrated tortilla soup mix from WinCo’s bulk foods section that would have passed muster for even a semi-lightweight backpacker’s kit. We also brought half a handle of whiskey, anticipating liberal doses with Crystal Lite and hot chocolate. [My big lesson learned after this shopping spree is that the aforementioned Real Bacon Pieces are, ounce for ounce, worth their weight in gold for adding to backpacking meals. Only $1.50 for a 2-ounce package, they do not need refrigeration and are light enough that they won’t break the back yet they go well with any dinner meal imaginable.]

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On Saturday morning, we were off. Worried about Yosemite traffic due to detours around Wawona Road, we instead took the long way down past Bakersfield and through Tehachapi Pass before hitting 395 for the final stretch up to Bishop. After collecting our permit and a rental bear can from the unsmiling young ranger at the White Mountain Ranger District office in Bishop, we headed up to Lake Sabrina to begin the first leg of our trip: a leisurely 4-day tour of Sabrina Basin with an exploratory day trip over to Darwin Canyon for fishing reasons using a part of the ridge that I hoped would go. We got a late start, not hitting the trail until 4:30pm, but we didn't have far to travel on this first day and so we were in no rush. We were treated to great views of Lake Sabrina all the way up to Blue Lake, where we grabbed the first open campsite after the creek crossing (I scouted further and every other major campsite along the lakeshore was occupied). We gratefully quaffed ice-cold backcountry whiskey sours (I packed up a frozen bottle of pre-mixed lemonade Crystal Lite – a lightweight backpacker I am decidedly not) and then wandered, a bit tipsy, around camp the rest of the evening preparing dinner and enjoying our first night. Nighttime temperatures were cool enough to provide a strong contrast to the warm afternoon but not cold enough to be uncomfortable, and we slept well.

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On Sunday morning, we leisurely packed up camp and then headed along the trail to Dingleberry Lake where the real fun began. I wanted to camp at the Schober Holes in order to check out the fishing there as well as to stage for our adventure over to Darwin Canyon the following day, so we crossed the inlet of Dingleberry and began climbing, passing a couple of gentlemen who were also heading in the same direction intending to fish Bottleneck and the Fishguts. A bit of careless routefinding on my part got us into one very short Class 3 section, mostly because of my stubborn refusal to backtrack and go around, but the rest of the way to the gap above Dingleberry was easy Class 1 walking and soon we found ourselves traversing the west shore of Bottleneck. I angled for a grassy ramp heading northwest that looked to be the easiest way to get around the large headwall above Bottleneck, and this proved to be a nifty route and enabled us to quickly gain the headwall without getting into Class 2-3 territory. From there, we traversed easy slabs up to the lowest Schober Hole, a pretty little lake with an infinity pool view over its eastern side.

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The Schober Holes are situated in an attractive side basin, tucked away high above Lake Sabrina. However, because of a combination of their high elevation (the upper lake is at over 11,840 feet) and their proximity to some even higher peaks, this appears to create a wind tunnel effect which caused us to endure a stiff and unrelenting breeze, dropping daytime temperatures to an uncomfortable level and making fishing difficult. The upper lake appeared lifeless and had the strongest winds, so we focused on the middle and lower lake (small and feisty goldens in the former, larger and undiscriminating brookies in the latter). We couldn’t find an ideal campsite and had to make do with one that was not very well sheltered, and so we ended up eating quickly and retiring to our tents early to gain respite from the cold. But the wind never died down. All through the night it howled and shook the tents, and it was impossible to sleep with any level of comfort (though I’m proud to report that my new-to-me TarpTent Squall 2 performed admirably even under stressful conditions).

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The next morning, we stumbled groggily out of our tents and slowly reoriented ourselves over morning coffee, taking stock of where we all stood. The previous night’s experience soured us on the prospect of camping another night in the basin and made me pessimistic about my planned route of ascending even higher to climb over the ridge to Darwin Canyon and then back again, so I decided instead to relocate to lower and warmer (and hopefully less windy) climes. We packed up and dropped back down to Dingleberry the way we had come the day before, avoiding the Class 3 section this time. From there, we took the unmarked spur trail to Topsy Turvy, losing it pretty quickly and picking our own route to little Pee Wee Lake where we found a blessedly flat and very sheltered camp high above the lake. My brothers lounged around like lizards enjoying the warmth while my dad and I explored further up the basin with rods in hand. A large group was camped on the flat bluff above Sailor Lake (the following day we passed the pack train on their way in to pick them up) and we wandered further up the stream to Hungry Packer, then made a detour to check out Moonlight Lake. I had hoped that these larger lakes might yield larger trout, but everything we saw was in the 7-10" range and so after catching a few fish apiece we continued back to camp at Pee Wee for the evening.

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On Tuesday, we packed up camp and hit the trail back to Lake Sabrina. Nothing immensely interesting to report here, except that I was surprised how many folks we saw on the trail for a weekday. I typically only backpack in the Eastern Sierra after Labor Day, so perhaps this is normal and I just have a skewed frame of reference. Once back at the trailhead, we zoomed into Bishop for burgers, fries, and craft beers at Mountain Rambler Brewery, then hit the White Mountain Ranger Station where another gruff employee issued us a permit for a Little Lakes Valley entry later that afternoon (another reminder of the skewed frame of reference: I was initially surprised at the surly attitudes of the staff at the Ranger Station, but then realized that I was embarking on a trip I had been planning for months while they were reciting rules to people over and over again -- I suppose I'd be surly too if I were in their position).

Anyhow, I had never done an out-and-in backpacking trip before this week and after this experience I can’t say the psychological effect is helpful, though I can’t question the efficiency of being able to visit two different parts of the Sierra on the same trip. The primary reason why I had planned the trip this way in the first place is because my brothers would be departing back for the Bay Area halfway through the trip, which would necessitate us driving two cars and so in turn would also provide the opportunity for us to stage a shuttle.

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The first part of the shuttle went off beautifully. We repacked my dad’s and my packs in a hot parking lot in Bishop (not my best effort, as you'll discover later), then carpooled to the Little Lakes Valley trailhead where my brothers dropped us off and then drove back down to 395 to leave the truck at the Pine Creek trailhead for us to find it five days later. It was only about 2:00pm, so my dad and I had plenty of time to amble along the easy trail through the Valley, admiring the views on our first trip in this area. We left the trail at Gem Lakes and climbed the ridge to the west, traversing first north and then west to gain the ridge and cross over to the other side. Now well above the treeline, the granite-encased Treasure Lakes beckoned and we walked past a handful of other hikers in the basin towards a likely looking stand of trees in the middle of the four lakes looking for a suitable place to camp. There were many established campsites and so we selected a nice one near Lake #3 and busied ourselves with camp chores as the sun started to set.

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At about 6:30pm we heard a helicopter approach from the west. We stopped to watch as it flew toward us, low enough that it seemed to be looking for something. Or someone. It passed overhead and started curving down toward the basin. We scrambled out of camp to get a better look at the two lower Treasure Lakes below. Sure enough, there were a handful of campers huddled together in an open space and as the helicopter drew nearer we saw two of them wave at it. The pilot hovered even lower, then an unintelligible voice came over a loudspeaker sounding a bit like “We’ll be back” and the chopper rose again and continued east. 3 minutes later, we heard the helicopter approach again and we realized that we were definitely witnessing a rescue operation unfold. We headed out over the boulder field toward the other campers and got there in time to watch the chopper pilot execute an impressive landing on a patch of grass that couldn’t have been larger than 10 square feet in the middle of a sea of boulders between Treasure Lakes #1 and #2. We found out that a guy who had dayhiked up to the Treasures with his friend from their camp at Chickenfoot Lake had had a seizure and hit his head on rocks a few hours previously. The man’s friend had brought him to more level ground and a group of backpackers camped nearby happened to have a Garmin InReach and used it to text for help. California Highway Patrol dispatched a helicopter from Fresno to come to his assistance, and the journey over the Sierra had been so quick that one of the two CHP officers who emerged from the helicopter shivered and remarked to us how surprised he was at the cold (the temperature had dropped swiftly once the sun dipped past Mount Abbot and Mount Dade). The officers questioned the man for about five minutes, assessing the extent of his injuries and gathering information about what had happened, before letting him know that they were going to take him to a hospital in Bishop. They then helped him into the chopper and took off into the fading light as we returned to our camp marveling at what we had just seen.

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On Wednesday morning we decided to dedicate our fishing efforts to the far side of Treasure Lake #3 after hearing from the rescued man’s friend that he had been fishing for “huge” goldens beneath the cliffs on the north side of the lake before he stopped to help his friend. I was dubious about the actual size of said trout (nobody knows better than a fellow fisherman a fisherman's propensity to embellish the truth) but was willing to entertain the notion that there were larger fish than the small goldens rising freely on our shallower side of the lake, so after we finished breakfast we struck out around the lake and were able to circumnavigate all of the perimeter except the large rock protrusion on the southwest side. We had fun sight-fishing for goldens all along the shoreline. As for the fish size? There was indeed a handful of goldens bigger than the 6-8” fish cruising all around the shore near our camp, and although they weren’t what I would call lunkers they were quite respectable.

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Other destinations beckoned though, so after checking out Treasure #2 (nondescript brookies that were surprisingly hard to catch) we returned to camp, packed up, and began heading up the ridge to the east. We walked the rounded top of the ridge heading south, then stopped at Dade Lake to eat some snacks and refill on water before continuing south/southeast up the start of the talus field toward Peppermint Pass. I was glad to be off-trail and, aside from a solo backpacker who crossed on the other side of Dade Lake apparently heading for Cox Col, I was also glad to be away from other people. But the travel itself was beginning to take its toll.

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As others have mentioned before here on HST, the talus north of Peppermint Pass is neither unusually steep nor unusually loose, but the constant boulder-hopping felt tedious and draining. It took us longer than expected to ascend to Peppermint Pass, and by the time we reached the pass and descended down to Spire Lake on the other side my dad admitted that he didn’t think he’d be able to make it back over Peppermint the next day. This was only the first of several cross-country passes I had planned for our route, but I too wasn’t feeling terribly enthused for the rest of my proposed trip and so I readily agreed to change plans to a more moderate itinerary – instead of heading to Upper Mills Creek and Bear Basin over the next few days, we’d instead spend a layover day in the Spire/Split drainage and then exit two days early to Pine Creek via the Mills Creek trail (former Pine Creek tungsten mining road).

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We had a hard time finding suitable campsites at Spire so, not wanting to repeat the sleepless night at the Schober Holes earlier in the week, we continued down to Split where we made camp at a good established campsite north of the twin lakes. I had heard about some interesting fishing prospects in this drainage so I was excited to fish both halves of Split, but alas we found only small goldens in lower Split and slightly larger but still not quite interesting brookies with a few scattered goldens in the upper, larger lake. Camp this evening was pleasant and warmer than the night before, and we gorged ourselves on pesto capellini with smoked herring and my dad’s homemade tri-tip jerky on the side (and crude handcarved chopsticks, as we realized the night before that we had forgotten the utensils while repacking for the second leg of our trip).

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On Thursday morning, we enjoyed the psychological effect of knowing we didn’t have to pack up camp on a layover day and had a leisurely breakfast before arming ourselves to the teeth with fishing gear and trudging the 300 or so feet back up to Spire. I had heard that this was one of the premier golden trout lakes in the range, and I had a full day to indulge in its bounty. We started at the southeast corner and worked our way slowly clockwise around the lake, fishing alternately with fly rod and spinning rod at every opportunity. This is an attractive Sierra lake with many choice fishing spots, boulder-filled shorelines abutting clear-blue water with deep drop-offs within easy flycasting reach. Surely some lunker goldens must reside here!

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But alas, it was not to be. I hesitate to say that the large goldens do not exist, for surely there are many experienced fishermen who are much more expert at their craft than I (and perhaps a few who are more prolific than my father, a very accomplished fisherman) who would have done a better job at drawing the behemoths out from the depths. But we plied the waters of Spire for six hours, landing upward of 30 healthy goldens between the two of us, and only once did I spy a fish that appeared larger than 12”. Now, don’t get me wrong – a foot-long golden is a treasure, and I was grateful for these gems. But it doesn’t quite qualify as a lunker trout, even in sterile alpine lakes above 11,000 feet. And with the sample size that we collected this day (over 100 fish either spotted, hooked, or landed) it’s hard to believe that significantly larger trout exist in the lake right now. Perhaps the golden population has spawned too well in the last few years, or maybe the heavier than average winters have stunted their growth. But after circumnavigating the entire lake, I’m forced to conclude that the average fish size does appear to be about 9-11”.

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On Friday, we packed up camp and descended 1,000 feet down slabs and across benches, generally following the easiest topography down to Bear Lake to the south of the inlet creek canyon. I made a few careless navigational decisions which sent us down a few steep chutes between cliff walls, but overall the route was efficient and soon we were walking along the southern shoreline of the lake, watching for signs of the rainbows that I knew lived there. I rigged up my fly rod and discovered that there were indeed a few medium-sized rainbows cruising beneath the trees, but they were surprisingly finicky. It took me an hour of changing flies and tippets before I found a winning formula of fly pattern and presentation, but once I did I landed a muscular 14” rainbow and then several more in quick succession while fishing around the rest of the perimeter of this small lake.

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After this mid-morning fishing respite, we then descended another 400 feet to intersect the old Pine Creek tungsten mining road/Morgan Pass trail. We enjoyed spotting remnants of the long-defunct mining operations as we walked down the former road that is now no wider than a trail in a few places. Then suddenly we came upon the big washout at about 9,300 feet and came to a dead halt. I had briefly recalled seeing a sign posted at the Little Lakes Valley trailhead about the washout, but didn’t inspect it closely as we hadn’t planned to use this route. Besides, how bad can a washout of a trail be? Pretty bad, as we discovered to our dismay as we peered over the edge of the sheer cliff created by the avalanche that had wiped out a 20-foot wide chunk of the road. Trying to pick our way past the washout and to the road on the other side was out of the question. It was just too steep with no runout below if we slipped. We grimly assessed the situation and decided that following tracks from others plunging 200 feet straight down the slope on our (west) side of the washout on crumbling and very loose scree was our best (and only) option. There were shrubs embedded in the scree that we grabbed onto to help slow our descent, and after we had dropped about sixty feet we were able to mince gingerly around some larger rock outcroppings to keep this bypass to class 3. Eventually we rejoined the road as it switchbacked below and continued down, relieved to be back on semi-level ground (with the healthy serving of uneven rock strewn across the road the rest of the way down to the Pine Creek Road, I hesitate to call it actually level ground). One final reminder, I suppose, of the mountain slowly reclaiming what is rightfully hers.

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The sign warning of the washout down at the gated entrance to the Pine Creek mining road. Note the description: "Switchbacks of the road are severely down cut and impassable."

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Once back to the truck, we drove back to Bishop, returned the Garcia bear canister we had borrowed (the young fellow who assisted us was, in great contrast to the previous employees who we had interacted with, in good spirits and extremely pleasant), and then grabbed deli food at Von’s (chicken strips, potato wedges, and deviled egg potato salad) before hitting the road for the slightly boring but thankfully uneventful 5-hour drive back to Sanger.

Though not quite the trip I had originally planned, it was still great fun to backpack with my brothers and my dad and to explore areas I hadn’t yet visited. The wheels are already turning for next summer’s exploration!

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Epilogue: Because I was back 2 days earlier than anticipated, I decided to make a quick run up to a favorite west flank big brookie lake on Sunday to see if the hotter fall action had begun yet. My day started off inauspiciously when I discovered that a road closure barred the usual (quicker) entry into the lake, but I was determined not to let this stop me. Instead I headed to a different trailhead to visit another lake that possibly holds big rainbows, then see if I could still make it to the first lake with an offtrail route that I hadn’t tried before. The route worked like a charm, I logged over 14 miles during the course of the day, the fishing was slower than anticipated (perhaps the lakes still haven’t yet cooled off enough for the fish to get more active), but I did tie into one heavy 14” brookie that validated the day's effort and put a stamp on my week’s adventures.

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You can read a few backcountry reports here: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/






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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by freestone » Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:10 pm

Windknot, another great read and of course, that large Rainbow has many of us Rainbow affectionados drooling. I sigh and relate to the big Goldens that refuse to rise to a dry or even show themselves for admiration and awe... most Goldens I catch these days fit easily into the palm of my hand, not those freaks of nature lurking in the deep dark alpine lakes!
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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:19 pm

My experience with fishing in the Sierra has been just the opposite. Every year the fishing is better. I think that I am choosing better places to fish as well as my fishing skills are also improving. But then I do not have experience with fishing in the Sierra 20 years ago or more.

I can sympathize with the route changes you had to do. My summer trips in the Wind Rivers were similar- both due to uncertainty with snow and adjusting a trip due to others along. But that is why we ask others to go with us- to share the trip- so we really are obligated to change the trip so they too can do it and enjoy it. When I have a super-tight, uncompromising agenda, I go by myself. My fishing in Wyoming was pretty much a bust this summer. To make matters worse, I had paid $115 for an out-of-state license! My travel schedule and fishing were out of sync- I passed by many lakes with fish during the day, only to camp at a lake I had previously had good luck, only to have poor fishing. I think that is the case in all mountain lakes- the fishery changes over time. The big difference in Wyoming is that the lakes are very actively managed with air drops; less so in the Sierra.

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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by Jason » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:14 pm

What a fantastic report. Those are places that I've (so far) only dreamed of visiting. Maybe one of these days. Thanks for taking the time to write a report.

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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by RiseToADry » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:56 am

Thanks for the write up Matt! I know it wasn't exactly what you were looking for from a fishing perspective, but those are still respectable specimens from an area that is not often fished.

As Freestone mentioned, that Rainbow is a beauty.

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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by cgundersen » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:51 pm

windknot,
I've just been catching up on TRs and this was a fabulous odyssey. Both my wife and a buddy with whom I go backpacking have opted for more-passive activities than fishing, and I certainly miss the occasional scrumptious meal of fresh trout (though, I'm guessing most/all of yours were catch & release). Guess I may have to take the bait and learn myself? Anyway, I'm partly guessing that it's the changing weather patterns and increasing impact of wildfires that may be influencing your Sierra experiences: I know that's been the case for me: by late May, I'm following the daily Calfire reports to try to gauge when to take a first trip to try to avoid early fires. A disconcerting new "normal"? We'll see! Cameron

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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by SSSdave » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:06 pm

When I visited Spire for a couple days in 1984, fish were that same size. I have looked down at Schober Lakes from the ridge above that is south of Lamarck Col and at least at the top recall seeing large unpleasant steep class 2-3 talus that I would avoid navigating with a backpack unless I had no choice. Over decades I've visited several lakes with at least some goldens larger than 14 or so and expect they still hold good fish. I don't hear most them mentioned by name thank you on this board but have seen pictures of a few I quite recognized where fish were caught. A key to large fish in such lakes is keeping lips sealed as there are obviously many more fisherman that won't recognize mere pictures that may otherwise visit a lake if a lake name or location description is given on the web.

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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by gary c. » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:30 am

Great report Matt. You are so fortunate to get to spend that kind of time with your family.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:34 am

Awesome! A great narrative and photos. Thanks for sharing.
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)

Post by windknot » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:34 am

Thanks all! Lest it seem like I doth protest too much, I am very aware of how fortunate and privileged I am to be able to continue to make these regular trips in the first place, as well as to be able to spend time in the backcountry with family members (who are willing to put up with my harebrained schemes in the first place). The fisherpeople among you also probably recognize that it takes a certain amount of past fishing success (whether deserved or not, probably not) in order to have set a bar high enough that it is now difficult to exceed on a regular basis.

Wandering Daisy, thanks for sharing your perspective on fishing changes for the better in the Sierra as well as the comparison with the Wind Rivers. Here in the Washington Cascades, high lakes fisheries are also much more actively managed with stocking (fewer lakes that allow natural reproduction?) and so the result is fewer fish in many lakes, but the ones that do exist are larger on average than those in the Sierra.
You can read a few backcountry reports here: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/

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