TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et | High Sierra Topix  

TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

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TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:03 pm

Yosemite Inside-Out 2014
Whereas you might expect me to post in the Fishing Forum, fishing was rather far down the list of highlights on this trip, so this one goes here, although with two peaks, it could also go in peak bagging. This is about the multiple joys the High Sierra brings to us.
LostLakeDanaMdwsRoutes200.jpg
Yosemite Inside-Out routes

Prelude (Wed. 30 July). The 3 day backpack (Yosemite Inside-Out) was my first major backpacking trip since Tunechuck in 2008 and the perfect way to celebrate turning 55 young (as of the last day of the trip, 2 August). With the Crane Flat Rd closed by fire I blasted out of Fresno via 99, J59, and 120 and got to the Tuolumne Mdws. Wilderness office in 3:59 driving time (leave Fresno 750 am, arrive at wilderness office 1149 am), which is less than an hour more than the usual going through the valley. I picked up my reserved wilderness permit from the ranger, who thought the trip game plan was an interesting one indeed. She remarked that Lost lakes was a place she had been curious about for some time but had not visited. Thunderstorms threatened, and it looked unlikely that the planned “tune up” day hike to Kuna Lake would happen, but I failed to find parking for a shorter hike up to Dog Lake, so I ended up at the Dana Meadows parking lot, where I observed wet pavement from a recent shower. It was almost entirely overcast, but I did not hear any thunder, so I took off for Kuna Lake figuring that the worst that could happen is that I’d be turned back by thunderstorms as I was my last try (in 2004). The weather held, and I noticed the glorious wildflowers on the hike up, with the somewhat unusual mix of richly colored (pink to magenta) allium combined with the more common wildflowers (daisies, lupine, paintbrush, etc.).
KunaLbelowFlowers3876_400.jpg
Flowers below Kuna L including abundant allium.

Little was rising at Kuna, but I spooked a 9-inch brookie in the outlet while crossing it to get to some good drop-offs. Reaching a good drop off I fired off the opening cast with the “default” gold w red spotted 3/8 oz Z-Ray and dropped it to the bottom. I received a tap or two but no fish. However, cast no. 2 picked up a 10 inch brookie. I ended up catching and releasing a dozen brookies running 9-11”. Although one wouldn’t class these fish as stunted, it is safe to say that this lake holds minimal potential for large fish. I arrived back at the car at about 430 pm. It was too early to set up camp at my special spot (somewhere E of Tioga Pass) and too early for dinner at TPR, so I stalled a bit by firing a bunch of casts into Tioga Lake without success. After dinner at TPR I set up camp, but it was still way to early to snooze, so I went and fished Tioga L. (more blank casts) before turning it in.

Day 1 Thurs. 31 July.
I was up at 530 ish, broke camp, nibbled on two mint chocolate chip Clif Bars to eliminate caffeine withdrawal symptoms (ie not having morning coffee) and arrived at the Dana Meadows parking lot at a bit before 630 am. Redoubtable death march backpacking buddy Todd Ramsden, alumni of many past trips, including the most recent one (Tunechuck 2008), and 1.5 yrs my senior, arrived at about 650 am and we headed off down the trail at about 710 am or so. I haven't seen him since 2008 and he seems ageless, although some of this may be "we're in our own moving reference frame". Be that as it may, he remains an extremely strong hiker, as this account will show. As planned, we diverged from trailed country at Spillway Lake and headed up past Helen Lake (many small fish observed) to Kuna Col. That grunt, which featured a bit of steep but reasonably firm class 2 talus at its head (steeper stuff avoided by aiming a bit NW of the lowest point), represented the “brute force” part of the off trail segment.
KunaColUpper3881_300.jpg
The upper part of Kuna Col above Helen Lake

The remainder of the hike would be the “finesse” off trail stuff I like so much: where spot-on route finding is required to limit the difficulties, especially avoiding cliffs and unnecessary elevation loss and gain. The clouds and wonderfully persistent breeze kept us cool and also kept the bugs off for the entire trip. The traverse around two ridges then over one small pass to the largest (NW) Lost Lake worked like a charm and we arrived at the destination at about 130 pm.
KunaLostCorner2_3884_300.jpg
Rounding the "first corner" and looking at the 2nd and the col above Lost Lakes.

The dark gray fluted and jagged spires of the Koip Crest provided an impressive close-in backdrop at the lake and during the off trail “art of the sidehill” traverse; it looked a lot like the Palisades. The distant vistas to the Lyell Group and such were nice but as the day went on the forest fire smoke muddied up the view considerably. Wildflower displays were among the best I’ve ever seen in the High Sierra. This was a bit of a surprise, because I thought we’d be a bit too late, given the early start of the season. The wildflowers would be a constant throughout the trip. I’d rank this among the best wildflower viewing experiences I’ve had in my nearly 50 years of High Sierra hiking.

We set up camp immediately upon arrival (in contrast to my usual “fish first” scheduling) because of the threatening weather that would occasionally spit a few raindrops on us. This was the debut of my new REI Quarter Dome 3 and we found this an impressive tent indeed. It weighs so little (something like 4 lbs even) that I had opened and set it up the week before at home to make sure everything was indeed in the bag. The tent has a nice easy pitch (once you’ve done it once) hub design and has LOTS of space. It is a genuine 3-person tent, not the usual “spoon left or spoon right” 3-person dimensions. I commenced fishing at about 250 pm and my first cast with the usual default Z-Ray I sent all the to the bottom owing to the utter lack of surface (or any other sort of) activity. This first cast returned a 12-inch golden rainbow hybrid that looked a bit more rainbow than golden. After a ton of blank casts, I proceeded to circumnavigate the lake. I never saw a cruising (full sized) fish, but saw several fingerling sized ones, attesting to the self-sustaining nature of the lake (the Lost Lakes are not air dropped). After more than 2 hours of blank casts (no strikes, either) I finally got another strike (having completed about 95 percent of the lake perimeter) and then another fish of about 12.5”. The second fish had less golden color than the first one, but appeared more “golden” than rainbow on the basis of having far fewer spots. We had an enormous dinner with the two orange-meated golden-rainbow hybrids in teriyaki sauce, followed by the ‘side’ dish of potato curry w veggies and chunked chicken. I then decided to see if the fish would hit around sunset, as can be the case at some finicky lakes. Over an hour of additional fishing resulted in zero strikes. Oh well.
LostLargeFish3891_400crop.jpg
Golden-rainbow hybrids from the largest Lost Lake


Day 2 Friday 1 August.
We took our time breaking camp, hiking out a bit after 8 am.
LostLargeMorningBnrRtrDvs3893_500.jpg
Morning (8/1) view of the Ritter Range from the large Lost Lake.

Early morning fishing has almost never paid off for me in the High Sierra and this morning would be no exception: zero strikes. I kept my pole rigged up, given the mellow nature of off trail route to the SE past two other Lost Lakes. The “middle” one (actually the highest one at 10960+) is shown in the DFG guide as having fish. Maybe it does. I saw no sign of them and the lake looked rather shallow, so as to have winterkill potential. I took some “verification” casts including bottom bumping retrieves to the deepest parts of the lake. This, like the other Lost Lakes, is a beautiful place, however, and as nice as the big lake is, I’d say the other ones are nicer in terms of views and potential camping areas.
LostSEClydeRtrDvs3897_300.jpg
The lowest, SE Lost Lake with the Ritter Range-Minarets backdrop.

The lowest (SE) Lost Lake appeared to have more small fish in evidence upon my arrival and the 2nd cast produced an 10-incher that was mostly rainbow with perhaps a smidge of golden in it. Although the fish here only hit my “default” lure when I sank it all the way to the bottom, then retrieved, the action was fast and furious. I caught an 8-inch rainbow that appeared to have no trace of golden in it, then a bunch of hybrids; 10 fish caught in 45 min of fishing. The larger fish (5 fish between 12 and 13.5”) seemed to be the “most golden”, but they all seemed to have a bit of rainbow in them. Accordingly I don’t think I’d recommend the Lost Lakes for someone who is targeting goldens. I wouldn’t class these lakes as “lunker hunter” lakes, either, because whereas the size isn’t bad, I think there are many lakes with far better size potential that require far less hiking to reach. The chief allure of these lakes is their scenery and lack of evidence of much use (barely a trace of the usual circuit use trails, etc.). The lower lake has the best views, with the jagged Koip Crest looming above and the amazing panorama south to west-southwest that includes the Ritter Range, Mt Rodgers, and the Lyell Group.
LostSEKoipCrst3901_600.jpg
The Palisades-like Koip Crest above the lowest Lost Lake with the varied wildflower display in the foreground.

From the SE Lost Lake (leaving the lake at about 10 am) we then unleashed “art of the sidehill part II”, a somewhat more challenging version of the previous day owing to the limited line-of-sight in the largely forested route. This worked pretty seamlessly except for the “third corner” (and final one) that dropped us into an unnamed (fishless) lake on Crest Creek at elev 10400+. I turned the last corner about 200’ too high, getting us into some annoying and steep class 2 talus sidehilling. This was to be the roughest terrain we’d cross in the trip and I probably cost us a half hour compared to a more optimal and lower “corner”. We then trudged up Crest Creek, with torment from what seemed to be many “false lakes” (the analog of “false summits”), before arriving at bleak and rugged Crest Creek lake at elev 11440+. It’s supposed to have fish and I am loathe to say its fishless, although I saw no sign of fish (no fingerling sized guys, no full sized cruisers, no rises, no strikes). The lake is quite deep and appears to have at minimum seasonal spawning potential in multiple inlets. I sank a bunch of retrieves to the bottom and got not even a bump. In common with some fish-bearing lakes, there was a lack of aquatic insects, and, of course, no tadpoles of any sort. The howling wind made things mighty chilly and the lake was pretty inhospitable in terms of campsites.
CrestCrkLk3906_300.jpg
Bleak Crest Creek Lake: fishless or not?

Although we relished camping in off trail spots, we decided to head for somewhat friendlier on-trail surroundings at the Algers. A reversal of most of our ascent up the creek followed by a little ‘diagonal’ cutover intersected the trail perfectly at Gem Pass. The last little ascent (>300’) put a real hurt on us and we huffed and puffed to the lake, cutting west to get far away from the trail to camp along the S shore of the lower lake, reported to be self sustaining. The highlight of the descent from Crest Creek lake was encountering a magnificent buck who took off downslope at an astonishing rate of speed. After we startled him and he took off, he appeared flying across the meadow (over 100 feet in elevation below) below but seconds later, as if he had beamed himself there. The Usain Bolt of deer, no doubt.

Although it was late, I returned to the “fish first” policy, given no immediate threat of rain (horrible smoke though), and figuring that the tent might be set up by head lamp, if necessary. I fished from about 630-730 pm and met with decent action with golden-rainbow hybrids of 11, 12, and 12” on the usual bottom bumping retrieves. On the average, these seemed to have a bit more golden in them than the average hybrid out of the Lost Lakes. Up to now I’d had an amazing run of not having lost a lure in spite of the high-risk retrieves. The bottom here was not as forgiving, and I’d lose 5 lures before leaving the lake the next morning. Whereas the first fish was caught on the “default”, the remainder of the action was on my go-to golden lure, the Z-hooker Z-Ray (3/8 oz as usual). Dinner was once again a lavish affair with red-meated fish (yes, more red than orange) in teriyaki sauce and parmesan pasta with veggies and chunked chicken. I also slept better the second night because I think the two mint choc chip Clif Bars of the first day exceeded my usual (home) morning coffee caffeine intake (one mug of strong, black Peets drip). It took a long time for me to nod off on night 1 and my mental “not shutting down” state seemed to be that of over caffeineation experiences of times past. The second night was prefaced with but a cup of hot chocolate and one mint choc chip Clif Bar in the morning, a dosage that successfully kept the headache away and didn’t mess my sleep up.

Day 3 Saturday 2 August.
After a horribly smoky night we awoke to clear (but still smoky) skies with far fewer clouds. My 55th birthday celebration was now on. Would this equal my 49th, which included Tunemah and the unforgettable basin below it? In order to try to get successful morning fishing in, we aimed for a late (turned out to be about 945 am) departure. I bought time in the morning by breaking camp first, then going fishing. From 730-830 am I got no love from the fish. At about 830 am I finally caught a fish, an 8 inch rainbow with no visible trace of golden blood. At about 9 am or so I caught my last fish of the trip, a 12.5” golden-rainbow hybrid that seemed more golden than rainbow.
AlgerToKunaKoip3912_300.jpg
Lower Alger Lake toward Koip Pass (right), Koip Peak (just left of pass), and Kuna Peak (just to left of Koip and behind it).

AlgerGolden3914_400crop.jpg
My last fish of the trip, a golden from the lowest Alger Lake.

Standing on one’s feet and fishing takes its toll on the hiking. For one, standing, rather than sitting does tire the legs and back, and the non-hiking mode gets one into a sedentary state. With that lead off we then faced the 1700-foot grind up to Koip Pass. This began with another amazing wildflower fest and finished by being tormented by the merciless, but efficiently graded (ie a bit steep), switchbacks.
Epilobium3917_450.jpg
Epilobium ("Rock fringe") lights up the hillside just below the big uphill to Koip Pass.

It was a relief to drop the packs at the pass. After powering up with some water and Clif Bars, we donned day packs and headed up Koip Peak. I guess the fact that this peak is so easy (class 1 with no route finding ability required) led to a decided lack of energy on the 700’ climb from the pass. The peak lacks alpine character and neither of us bothered with summit “victory photos”. Given how much I seemed to drag I wondered if I’d really want to do Kuna Peak, which would mean having to climb back over Koip to get back to the packs at the pass. After a very brief debate (mostly with myself) we decided we really should climb Kuna: first because it was really close and second, because it did in fact offer more alpine character than Koip.
KunaFrKoip3921_300.jpg
Kuna Peak and its glacier from the summit of Koip Peak.

Although the traverse and climb turned out to be entirely class 2 (nothing even close to class 3) with but moderate-angled, and generally solid, talus, at least I had to think a bit about optimal route selection and energy surged into my legs. This was clearly much more fun than the use trail trudge up Koip, and this illustrated nicely the mental part of hiking vigor. The summit of Kuna, a narrow ridge, but not true knife edge, is rather unusual for a bunch of pointy rocks sticking out (geologically, this is because there is a very steep foliation to these metavolcanic rocks). The NE face of Kuna is savagely desolate, with the dark gray of the rock face over a rock-smeared glacier that sits above a jumble of morainal debris and a light green, glacially-clouded lakelet.
KunaNorthBowl3925_300.jpg
View down the north face of Kuna Peak to its glacier and moraine complex.

To the west, we could look down the dramatic SW face and see the wonderful sidehill traverse we’d done on day 1.
KunaWLostCol3928_300.jpg
View from Kuna Peak summit to the west showing the latter part of the traverse of the first day and the col to the Lost Lakes.

The distant views of the Ritter and Lyell Group were almost entirely obscured by smoke. A quick scramble back over Koip got us back to packs and we hoisted them upon our backs for what we thought we be the routine, but necessary, trailed conclusion to our trip.

Nothing could have prepared us for the visual treat we were about to experience. The trail leaves the Koip Pass with this long level traverse to the NE making one wonder “why?”. As this unfolded, I looked over my shoulder and stopped in my tracks, stunned by the awesome view of the Koip Peak glacier and this amazing silver thread of whitewater coming from it. This is the most impressive cascade I’ve seen in my 49 years of hiking in the Sierra. With the exception of a little flat area where the trail crosses, this is all whitewater from an elevation of about 12000’ to something like 9200’ in Parker Canyon. The cirque itself has the same desolate character as the high one beneath Kuna.
KoipGlcrParkerCascade3935_300.jpg
The Koip Peak glacier and the upper part of the amazing Parker Creek cascade.

As we reached the switchbacks that descend to the creek crossing and descended them I found myself pausing repeatedly to take photos and simply enjoy the view. Looking back up it was now clear why the trail was routed the way it was: directly below the pass were sheer cliffs above permanent snowfields or glacier. This segment of trail between the Koip and Parker Passes ranks as one of the most visually spectacular of any route I’ve hiked, including all of the off trail ones. The visual magic here was on a par with the very best, including spots such as the basin below Tunemah, but in an entirely different way. What makes this place unique is the stupendous cascade—bear in mind that its running like that in early August after three consecutive dry winters—as well as the desolate backdrop of dark gray cliffs, talus, and rock-painted small glaciers and permanent snow fields. The view down unusually rugged Parker Canyon is also stupendous, although this was sadly diminished because of the heavy smoke.

All and all, the Koip-Parker Pass trail segment showed how much the “getting there” can be a stand-alone highlight of the trip, in contrast to the destinations or other activities (ie fishing and peak bagging). I am not one to enjoy hiking for hiking’s sake (except for off trail backpacking), but most of the highlight of this trip were about the “getting there” be it the fun of off trail route finding (days 1 and 2), top-of-the-line views (all 3 days), or wildflowers (all 3 days). The best “goal” or “destination” highlights would probably be the Lost Lakes (because of their beauty and remoteness rather than fishing) and Kuna Peak, but these paled in comparison to the “en route” pleasures.

From Parker Pass the “grind it out” part of the trip’s conclusion began. Smoke obscured nearly all of the view, and after a somewhat interesting nearly flat “moonscape” (very little vegetation on sandy, rocky ground) between Parker and Mono Passes, the views returned to ordinary as we passed into the trees. We both felt like we were running on fumes and began to think of the after-trip meal. Todd was going home via 395, so he planned to eat at Whoa Nellie. Me, well I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to get out to the west, because the increasing amount of smoke made we wonder if the El Portal fire had gotten worse (in which case the 120 Big Oak Flat exit may be closed and I’d have to go E via Tioga and then cross back over Sonora pass to get home). As I got to the about 1.5 - 2 miles out, the energy flowed back into my legs and I finished the trip with a super high speed “kick” to finish out my 55-birthday-hiking day. Pro athletes often talk of “making a statement” with a superlative performance, past-their-prime recreational athletes like me make statements to themselves. However, hiking speed or strength had nothing to do with what made this trip a terrific celebration. It was the High Sierra itself that provided the highlights.

Technical notes: All navigation on this trip was done by me strictly with topo map and no compass, as has been my tradition for the 42 years I've been leading trips. Todd carried a GPS, but we did not consult it at all during the trip (same as for Tunechuck). According to said GPS, the trip stats were 33.4 mi and 8400' of elevation gain, nearly all with full pack, except for the little Koip-Kuna climb.

Postscript: I reached the car at 516 pm and Todd followed not too long afterwards. I was off at 528 pm and headed (optimistically) west figuring that they’d have some sort of sign out at Tuolumne Mdws (at minimum) were 120 to be closed. I saw no signs of road closure but was impeded by the usual collection of terrible Yosemite drivers. In fact I’d say the string of lousy and rude (ie never use a turnout) drivers I encountered was unusually bad. The highlight film dude was a guy who freaked out at every oncoming car (EVERY one, which means a lot) slowing to a near stop each time. Fortunately he stopped to enjoy the view of Tenaya Lake, but I was soon stuck behind another one of those crummy out-of-element drivers who goes excruciatingly slow around corners, does not use turnouts, then accelerates to 55+ on straights making it nearly impossible to get by. A slingshot move on one of the few straights available blew by this annoyance and reminded me why my 2001 Nissan Sentra is my favorite mountain driving car I’ve owned, with way above average cornering (best I’ve experienced), and excellent acceleration and power (and, even though well past 100k miles I still get 38 mpg highway!). In fact, the drive up via my old (from decades in the Bay Area) west 120 approach had been one of my most fun mountain drives ever. I guess you can say that sometimes the “getting there” pleasure can extend to my driving experience as well. However, as things usually go in Yosemite, I was soon stuck behind another guy who didn’t turn out, and so on and so forth. Upon reaching the 120 T at Crane Flat no signs indicated a closure of the Crane Flat road so I was good to go through the Valley and back via the 41 to Fresno. However, because of the slow traffic, my driving time home was 3 hr 20 min, which is only 39 minutes faster than my drive up via J59 and 120. Wanting to get back early I didn’t stop for dinner, but there were good leftovers at home and it was good to be home early enough to see the kids before they snoozed. A happy 55th indeed.
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



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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby Dave_Ayers » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:31 am

Thanks for the fine trip report, you've captured the stark beauty of Koip Pass so well. I recall the NE view from the switchbacks down Parker Creek canyon exhibiting a fine example of a Glacial Morraine with Mono Lake off in the distance. Great stuff!
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:55 am

Great TR GB, looking forward to seeing the wildflower photo's. Thanks
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby canukyea » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:25 pm

Hah the world is small. Just missed you on Saturday. I did Rush Creek to Crest Creek Lake to Lower Alger and back. Can affirm that Crest appeared to be barren. It was quite a bit of work to get there, so I didn't have the chance to check out Upper Alger (does it hold any fish?).
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:31 pm

canukyea wrote:Hah the world is small. Just missed you on Saturday. I did Rush Creek to Crest Creek Lake to Lower Alger and back. Can affirm that Crest appeared to be barren. It was quite a bit of work to get there, so I didn't have the chance to check out Upper Alger (does it hold any fish?).

Wow, you dayhiked from Silver L. to Crest Creek L. AND Lower Alger and back? That's a long day. I believe that the Upper Alger is supposed to have fish according the DFW Eastside fishing guide. I fished only the lower Alger.
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
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby bluefintu » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:13 pm

Thank you GB for your trail report. Your knowledge of the Sierra mountain range is so wonderful and very helpful for me and other's. My dad(87yr) always wanted to fish Alger, he but never had the time to do it. I'm glad you caught some nice fish.
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby ofuros » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:17 pm

Enjoyed your birthday adventure, giantbrookie.....thanks for sharing.
Out 'n about....looking for trout.
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby canukyea » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:27 pm

giantbrookie wrote:
canukyea wrote:Hah the world is small. Just missed you on Saturday. I did Rush Creek to Crest Creek Lake to Lower Alger and back. Can affirm that Crest appeared to be barren. It was quite a bit of work to get there, so I didn't have the chance to check out Upper Alger (does it hold any fish?).

Wow, you dayhiked from Silver L. to Crest Creek L. AND Lower Alger and back? That's a long day. I believe that the Upper Alger is supposed to have fish according the DFW Eastside fishing guide. I fished only the lower Alger.


Indeed, but had an early start just after 5 in the morning. Actually, the fishing guide is the document responsible for the less successful first half of the fishing trip! It indicated there might still be goldens in Crest, but I suppose it is far more likely that it would be correct for on-trail lakes. It's not a loss though, the scenery in the area is legitimately nice, especially one part where the some of the rock takes on a purple hue.
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby copeg » Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:28 pm

Thanks for the trip report GB! Lost lakes ended up on my target list of todo's earlier this summer while researching my one trip I was able to take this year. I like your chosen route.
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:24 pm

copeg wrote: I like your chosen route.

Truth be told, the approach from Dana Meadows was suggested by Old Ranger. In an exchange of emails we had before the trip he asked: "Why are you planning to go there from Rush Creek instead of Dana Meadows?" For some reason I hadn't thought of the "inside-out" approach, partly because I wrongly assumed that the wilderness permit would be more difficult to obtain (ie more apt to get quota'd out) from the Yosemite side. That assumption is completely incorrect for Dana Mdws, which is a trailhead that seldom fills up because there is no camping allowed along that trail at all within Yosemite (including everything in the Parker Pass Creek drainage on the spur trail off to Spillway L).
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
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:20 pm

For years I've had maked on the topo what you call Kuna Col, while not being certain it would be class 2. Thanks for that info. At less than 7 miles and 1300 feet from the trailhead, it makes getting to the no name lake basins west side of Kuna Crest less effort than Tuolumne Meadows that is about 9 miles and 2200 feet. To make that more practical, I would probably night hike 3 hours to Summit Lake across the park border before going over the crest the next morning. Not surprising the middle Lost Lake does not have fish because given its position in the basin, would expect just has a small stream during snowmelt too limited for spawning. On the Kuna Creek side would expect 10806 might support goldens. Too bad about the Kuna Crest noname lake since you had to climb an extra 1k to get up there. From the map it looks like it should have had fish as well as the lake at 10480+. Maybe some frog work?

I will probably mark up spreadsheet for a future 5-day early August trip over Kuna Col that will spend a couple days in the Kuna Creek headwaters and then a day over at the lower se Lost Lake.
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Re: TR 7/31-8/2 Dana Mdws-Kuna Col-Lost, Crest Cr., Alger Lks et

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:26 pm

SSSdave wrote:For years I've had maked on the topo what you call Kuna Col, while not being certain it would be class 2. Thanks for that info. At less than 7 miles and 1300 feet from the trailhead, it makes getting to the no name lake basins west side of Kuna Crest less effort than Tuolumne Meadows that is about 9 miles and 2200 feet. To make that more practical, I would probably night hike 3 hours to Summit Lake across the park border before going over the crest the next morning. Not surprising the middle Lost Lake does not have fish because given its position in the basin, would expect just has a small stream during snowmelt too limited for spawning. On the Kuna Creek side would expect 10806 might support goldens. Too bad about the Kuna Crest noname lake since you had to climb an extra 1k to get up there. From the map it looks like it should have had fish as well as the lake at 10480+. Maybe some frog work?

I will probably mark up spreadsheet for a future 5-day early August trip over Kuna Col that will spend a couple days in the Kuna Creek headwaters and then a day over at the lower se Lost Lake.


Hi Dave, I was just checking Secor (after the fact) and he has that pass in there as "Kuna Crest Pass" and he also lists it as class 2. This is an pretty mellow class 2 pass because there is a pretty swath area W of the low point that is rather moderate class 2 talus and this is pretty visually obvious when viewing it from Helen Lake and during ascent from Helen. If you go directly to the lowest point, staying in the axis of the chute, you would probably encounter a bit of steep snow above which things look steep, slabby, and probably class 3. The broad class 2 area to the west of the axis of the chute offers many possibilities, and one can minimize the angle of hiking by zig zagging on benches or zones of somewhat lower-angle talus. Note, however, that the elevation gain from Dana Meadows is closer to 2200' (~9600' the low point just out Dana Mdws on the trail; Kuna Crest Pass 11760+) rather than 1300' but the distance is pretty short (~6 mi).

As for the lakes in the upper Kuna Creek drainage, most of them are too shallow to avoid winter kill, but I did not do a thorough scouting of them. The largest one is the one at 11440+ and that one did indeed look rather fishless, but I didn't sent any casts in there. The suspicious ones, as you note, are at 10400+ and 10800+ on the trunk stream, and I did not descend to verify whether or not they had fish or not. If I had another day, I would have certainly descended to investigate.

Interesting about the "middle" vs SE Lost, too. I think the CDFW accidentally switched those on their electronic fishing guide that shows the SE one as fishless and the middle one as having fish. Their raw data includes surveys for all four lakes (including the little lakelet downstream of the big NW lake) and I can see how that data would be interpreted to consider all four self sustaining. However, I think the middle one may have been knocked out by winterkill.
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
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