TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

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

TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby Pato » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:42 am

Ever since I first learned about Tunemah Lake and its supposed giant trout I knew that I had to get there – of course that is no easy task. I penciled out a challenging 6 day, 62 mile off trail loop from Courtright Reservoir that would visit some prime destinations: Blue Canyon, Tunemah, Lake 10,232, Goddard Canyon and Red Mtn Basin. Part of the allure of this trip for me was the fishing: I love exploring unknown lakes and the challenge of getting there.

As with all my trips it seems, there was a lot of anxiety leading up to this trip. I had been incredibly busy at work, traveling a lot and not exactly sure I should leave civilization at the moment. On top of that a weather system was scheduled to hit that predicted wind gusts to 50mph and potentially some rain. But as I realize every time I venture in the wilderness – I really needed the escape.

Day 1 – Maxson TH to N Fork of Kings River. 17 miles - 8 - 2400’ elevation gain

A 4am start from the Bay Area had us geared up and ready to hit the trail at 10am. With 40 lb packs we were a little heavier than I wanted to be but manageable. The first 10 miles of the trail were forested with minimal views but the miles ticked away quickly. At about 10.5 miles the views opened up where the North Fork carves its way through solid granite and creates wonderful little swimming holes and water slides. We stopped to swim at these pools and regretted not being able to stay the night there. If I had more time, this would make a wonderful stop for the first day.
1.jpg
Pools along the North Fork
We continued on up the North Fork through mosquito hell at Big Maxson Meadow and past 2 Outward Bound groups of 10 kids or so coming back from a 7 day trip into Bench Valley and Blackcap Basin. I was impressed to see young kids doing such an adventurous trip – very encouraging! At 6pm we rolled into our planned destination near where the trail crosses the North Fork. I briefly considered fishing the creek, but decided against it and took refuge from the attacking mosquitoes in the tent. A long first day for sure and sadly no views to enjoy at the end of the day.

Day 2 –N Fork of Kings River to Blue Canyon. 7.8 miles - 2800’ elevation gain

Almost immediately we said goodbye to the trail (and people) for the next 4 days, and headed cross country up Maxson Basin. We skirted the shallow lake in the basin which was actually prettier than expected and had a nice view of Blackcap Mtn to the North.
2.jpg
Looking across Maxson Basin towards Blackcap Mtn
The mosquitoes were thick as we ascended to the ridge at about 10,600 where we got a light breeze and enjoyed wonderful views of Crown Basin and down to the Middle Fork of the Kings. The descent off this ridge was a little trickier than expected but not too bad and we made good time across Crown Basin and up to Hummingbird Lake and Mantle Pass.
3.jpg
Crown Basin
Again mosquitoes were thick in this area until we hit the pass where a breeze would knock them back. From Mantle Pass we made a sweeping traverse to the twin lakes at 10,320+ and made our way over to Lake 10,401 sitting at the back end of the canyon. Views from 10,401 were fantastic although we struggled with finding a flat campsite for our tent. We settled on some semi-level granite on the north end of the lake that had a good breeze to fend off our bloodsucking enemies.
6.jpg
Inlet to Lake 10,401
After setting up camp I spent about 15 minutes fishing, and deemed it fishless (saw no signs of life) so we scrambled down to the twin marsh-lined lakes 400’ below.
4.jpg
Twin lakes at around 10,000
These lakes indeed had plenty of rainbows, running to about 12” or so but the mosquitoes were almost unbearably bad.
5.jpg
Rainbow out of Blue Canyon twin lakes
We fished until we could not bear them anymore and scrambled back up to camp. That evening, the wind began picking up – a sign that the predicted weather front was moving in. For the moment we were happy that they kept the bugs at bay.
7.jpg
An amazing end to Day 2 at 10,401


Day 3 – Blue Canyon to Tunemah Basin. 3.68 miles - 1420’ elevation gain

Ahh….Tunemah…I had been daydreaming about this day for years! We woke up to overcast skies and fog. Some weather had definitely moved in overnight. As we made our way up Dykeman Pass a light rain developed. Dykeman proved easy and once over it and into the Alpine Creek drainage, we dropped our packs and decided to scramble over to the large unnamed lake at 10,400+.
8.jpg
Large lake in the Alpine Creek drainage
I had not been able to find any information on this lake regarding fish so I had dreams that this was a secret lunker lake. My dreams proved unfounded as we fished for probably 45 minutes with no action, no visuals, no signs of life. Not sure I can rule out fish for sure, but we came up empty handed.
9.jpg
Apline Creek Lake - looks kinda of fishy?
Back at our packs we made our way up the Alpine Creek drainage where we had wonderful views back down to the Middle Fork and across to the Monarch Divide. We pushed on, excited to get to Tunemah. Once we crested the saddle, there it was - Tunemah Lake. I couldn’t wait – we threw down our packs and began to fish. 30 minutes passed - Nothing. We moved our packs over to the jawdropping views at the outlet and fished some more.
10.jpg
View from Tunemah's outlet
Still nothing. Hmmm….could Tunemah now be fishless? As much as I wanted to fish some more, I’d still have a chance to determine that tomorrow. We decided we should get into camp and enjoy the improved weather (sans mosquitoes) and , reluctantly, I retreated down to the beautiful basin below Tunemah.

To be continued…



User avatar
Pato
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:37 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby Pato » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:52 am

Day 3 – continued

I read reports calling Tunemah basin “enchanted” and I couldn’t agree more. A huge smile set across my face as I strolled down through the valley.
11.jpg
Looking down at lake 10,600+
What an amazing place. We set up camp in between the lakes at 10,440+ and enjoyed spectacular views of the Ragged Spur.
12.jpg
View from camp at 10,440+
Fishing at these lakes was descent for rainbows running to maybe 12” but fishing was second place to the scenery. The weather had cleared and we wandered down to a small lakelet below the larger lakes and enjoyed one of the most spectacular vistas I have seen in the Sierra. This is the stuff I live for!
14.jpg
Lower Tunemah Basin
15.jpg
Lower Tunemah Basin
16.jpg
Another from Lower Tunemah Basin
17.jpg
Tired of these yet? I'm not

Back at camp I discovered an area about 100’ from our tents that had 7 large (mostly fresh) piles of bear scat.
13.jpg
Fresh poop!
Without bear canisters we went to bed a little nervous that night…hoping that bears don’t like to eat where they poop! I tried to think about the monster fish back at Tunemah.

To be continued…
Last edited by Pato on Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Pato
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:37 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:47 am

Pato: This is one excellent TR. Lower Tunemah Basin, that's the stuff us cross-country mountaineers live for. Those pictures and memories will last you for a lifetime.
Still waiting for a Tunemah Lake picture. ;) A map would be nice: I had to decipher from what you said, your pictures, a good map and Google Earth exactly what direction the camera was pointing at sometimes. I was like, "OOOoooh...he was there...Cooooool..."
Just an awesome TR, and I can't wait for the rest. Good job!

(I had a cat named Pato, which in Japanese means "Toes", and my cat had too many.)
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
DoyleWDonehoo
Founding Member
 
Posts: 480
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 2:06 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby Kelbaker » Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:26 pm

I was also skunked at Tunemah last year. Although I did have one pretty good bite so I am thinking there is still fish there, I did see what looked like MYLF's hopping around though. It was suppose to be a fish dinner night so I had to go to the lower lakes to fulfill that requirement. Thanks for the beautiful pitchers and of a beautiful place.
User avatar
Kelbaker
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:00 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby Bluewater » Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:42 pm

This is beautiful! Lower Tunemah Basin looks amazing. The pano view from the photo taken above Lake 10,600 is spectacular, and the third one from LTB with the waterfall and wildflowers makes we want to be there right now. Looking forward to the rest. BTW, I was also following along on my maps, looks like a fun route.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
User avatar
Bluewater
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 530
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:33 pm
Location: Laguna Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:01 pm

Ah, this is the stuff of dreams. The basin below Tunemah is High Sierra paradise. That may be my favorite spot in the entire range. Like many others, I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this report.
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:18 pm

Beautiful report and love the pictures, especially the ones with the wildflowers.
How were the wildflowers in the Crown/Maxson area?

DWD wrote:
(I had a cat named Pato, which in Japanese means "Toes", and my cat had too many.)


Means "Duck" in spanish. I taught "Yubi" is toes in Japanese.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:30 pm

maverick wrote:Beautiful report and love the pictures, especially the ones with the wildflowers.
How were the wildflowers in the Crown/Maxson area?
DWD wrote:
(I had a cat named Pato, which in Japanese means "Toes", and my cat had too many.)

Means "Duck" in spanish. I taught "Yubi" is toes in Japanese.

You are right. I got my cats mixed up. I had cats named Pato and Yubi. Currently I have three: Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingly and Bridget. Yes, my wife is a Jane Austin fan. Geez.

When I passed through Crown Basin, it looked like there would be plenty of flowers in the proper time of year, but I was there late season. There is certainly plenty of meadows, running water and ponds.
Last edited by DoyleWDonehoo on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
DoyleWDonehoo
Founding Member
 
Posts: 480
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 2:06 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby jenreyn » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:43 pm

Thanks for the pics.....looks really amazing especially the lower basin. I am headed out there in a few days. Excited to go but wondering if the fishing pole is worthy since there are mixed fishing reports. Also, did you follow the outlet of Tunemah down into Goddard Canyon or back over Blue Canyon Pass?
User avatar
jenreyn
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:37 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:21 am

Excellent report, amazing photos. That area is a longtime dream of mine...
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby lambertiana » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:22 pm

Wow! I think I need to make plans for a trip there!
User avatar
lambertiana
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 159
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:13 pm
Location: Visalia, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tunemah 6/24-6/29

Postby Pato » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:58 pm

Day 4 –Tunemah Basin to Lake 10,232. 6.7 miles - 1900’ elevation gain

I woke up early, happy I wasn’t mauled by bears over night, but thinking about fish and headed over to Lake 10,458 to wet a line.
20.jpg
Fishing in lower Tunemah basin
I caught a few rainbows to maybe 12” or so, but soon realized I would much rather be fishing Tunemah. I quickly packed up my things and got a head start on the group up to Tunemah.
21.jpg
Tunemah
I fished for an hour without a single strike, follow or sighting. The rest of the group made their way up to the outlet and I sadly admitted defeat – Tunemah would yield nothing to me on this trip. From Tunemah, we headed up the grassy gully on it’s north shore to the saddle just east of Peak 11,920. Initially, I was a bit nervous about this pass as I could find no reports of anyone descending it. I found a few pictures and a reference that it looked “doable” but no confirmation. Luckily another member of the group had printed out a few pages from Secor and to my surprise it had a name “Libbey Pass” and was Class II. Excellent. The views from the pass were incredible, with nearly 360 views and serrated peaks everywhere.
22.jpg
Lakes of Tunemah Basin - from whence we came
23.jpg
Basin east of Blue Canyon Peak
The basin to our north had two little lakes perched on a bench before it plunged over the edge into Goddard Creek canyon. We peaked over the north side of the pass, and it looked steep but as the report said “doable”. We took turns descending the loose sand/scree as to not knock rock on each other and in no time we were down to more stable talus. This pass, while a bit challenging, was no way as near as difficult as MacLeod Pass – the crux of last years trip.
24.jpg
Loose sand/scree on Libbey Pass
We descended talus to about the 11,000’ level, where I debated continuing on down to the lakes to investigate for fish. No one else in the group wanted to go, and the lakes looked quite shallow so I was content with knowing that if there were fish they were probably quite small. From 11,000’ we ascended 200’ up a steep nose to the north and then traversed over to another unknown saddle leading to Finger Peak Basin. It proved to be pretty tame, and we named the saddle “Flemish Gap” after the two Belgians in our group. From Flemish Gap we descended on granite slabs 1,300’ down to lake 10,240+ in Finger Peak Basin to stop for lunch. This lake, while having excellent views of Finger Peak and a lovely waterfall flowing in on its north shore, was infested with mosquitoes. We had almost forgot about our little friends after enjoying a day and half without them.
25.jpg
Finger Peak Basin


After lunch, we continued down the West Fork of Goddard Creek through lovely granite and pine country and traversed around the bend to join the main branch of Goddard Creek. I was anticipating amazing views here in the meadows but was a little disappointed. Perhaps the bugs tainted my opinion but it was very nice nonetheless.
27.jpg
Goddard Creek
The views were much prettier from above the meadows looking down Goddard Creek.
29.jpg
Meadows below Lake 10,232
From there it was an easy jaunt up to Lake 10,232 – an incredible lake sitting in an enormous bowl with countless waterfalls pouring into the lake. It was loaded with smallish rainbows in the 8”-10” range so I hooked a couple fish, but quickly lost interest. Sadly, this lake too was infested with mosquitoes which detracted from its amazing setting.
28.jpg
Outlet creek of Lake 10,232
We set up camp, and then donned our headnets, waiting for an intermittent breeze to give us momentary relief.

to be continued...
User avatar
Pato
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:37 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Bkoenig, diazwoman61, ksprad31, MSNbot Media [Bot] and 4 guests