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East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

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East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby richlong8 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:57 am

I arrived at the Road's End ranger station at 6:20am kind of sweating it because I had no reserved permit for Labor Day weekend. There were 2 people in front of me, and a good sized group formed behind me, awaiting the ranger's arrival at 7am. From conversations, most of the people waiting in line had no reservation, and they were groups of 4-7 people looking to go to Rae Lakes. They only had 3 walk-up permits for Bubbs Creek, and 5 for Woods Creek, and I was fortunate to get a spot for Bubbs Creek going up to Lake Reflection. There was a bit of sticker shock. I did not realized that walk-up permits now cost $15 in SEKI. $20 to get in the park for 7 days, $15 for the permit....most places, you don't have to pay for a walk-up. Most of my activity this year has been on the west side of the Sierras, because I enjoy traveling up to Clovis from Bakersfield, and spending the night before the trip at my son's house, and seeing my 2 grandsons. Once the permitting process was over, this was almost a perfect trip, one of my best in a long time. Three months ago, I assumed that I would not be able to backpack until 2015 at the earliest, because of 2 back surgeries in November, 2014. I really missed the High Sierra, and had decided in late July of this year to car camp and dayhike in the easy to walk around Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. I brought my backpack, and decided what the heck, and packed 2.5 miles into the wilderness. In August, I was able to bump it up a notch, and go 4-5 miles into the Cottonwood Lakes area, then 6miles + into Nelson Lake(Dinkey Lakes area) on another weekend. Now this trip of about 32 miles into Lake Reflection and back, spread over 4 days. I don't know why I am so blessed, not because I deserve it, that is for sure. Anyway, I am not looking for a pat on the back, but perhaps by mentioning my physical limitations, and being able to enjoy once again get out into the beautiful High Sierra will be an encouragement and hope to someone out there who is struggling with pain and physical issues.
The first few miles of the trail includes some wonderful views of the Kings Canyon, and rock structures such as the Sphinx. And lots of gnats. The first 2 miles are flat until you reach the bridge over the Kings River, then it is uphill from there. The trail seems to have been built with packers in mind, with plenty of switchbacks, and high steps that seem to be a mainstay of trails that get a lot of pack animal use. Somewhere on the climb up that morning I encountered and chatted with a group of 3 backpackers( new HST members: shan1203, Jeremy 1701)who were returning from a trip to Gardiner Basin. Their wonderful trip report is posted at viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11703.
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The creeks were running nicely on this trip, the highest I have seen so far this year on my 4 trips.
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I reached Junction Meadow around 5pm(about 10.5 miles), and turned right at the East Lake trail junction. I had wanted to ford Bubbs Creek, and camp, but there was no point. All the campsites were full on the other side, and I would have had wet shoes(no water shoes) for no reason. There had been many people camped at the various campsites along Bubbs Creek(Labor Day weekend crowds), but I had a great campsite about 50 yards from the creek.
The next morning I forded fast moving shin-high Bubbs Creek about 7am, and hiked the three miles of beautiful trail up to East Lake. It was early enough when I arrived at the lake that fish were still breaking the surface all over the surface of the lake. I had about 30 minutes of still weather before a breeze come up, and was able to get some decent pics of Mt. Brewer and other peaks reflected on East Lake. I then fished for about an hour with modest success(10" was the largest), before heading up to Lake Reflection.
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Most maps do not show a trail from East Lake to Lake Reflection. There is a trail, but it is very narrow, and gets faint in many areas heading up to the lake. There is a rockslide(at least 50 yards wide) about a mile from East Lake, where the trail is lost/nonexistent. I saw ducks here and there, but I am not convinced that I took the easiest route across, or that following the irregular ducks is the best route. Before hitting the rockslide, I was keeping my eyes open for a faint trail heading up to Harrison Pass(reconaissance for a future trip). I saw a ducked intersection, probaby about 50 yards before reaching the rockslide, that had a narrow path going up and to the left at a steep angle. Does that sound like what is left of the trail to those of you that have been that way? As I got higher up East Creek, it was pretty obvious where the basin would be that a person would travel thru before getting to Harrison Pass.
In any case, once across the rockslide, pickup the faint trail by heading over to East Creek, and just keep East Creek on your right as you head up to Lake Reflection, and if you lose the "trail", you will still get there. There is a smaller lakelet with beautiful clear water that you go by first before reaching the main body of Lake Reflection. This lakelet provides a cover photo for Mike White's trail guide titled "Kings Canyon". I ran into two dayhiking fisherman who were leaving Lake Reflection as I arrived around 2 pm. I had seen them earlier at East Lake where they were camped, and we chatted and shared some fishing info. I had never had high fishing expectations for Lake Reflection. I was fairly certain it was more of a scenic destination than a lunker lake, and that proved to be true.Image
Reflection is a beautiful spot, and I had it to myself on this visit. I had a wonderful quiet night under the stars. One equipment change I have made is sleeping pad. I finally broke down and bought an Exped UL7 down pad. Oh my gosh, why did I wait so long?! Carrying that extra weight is worth every ounce. For this trip, my total weight was 23 pounds for the 4 days, which included camera, and carrying a liter of water.
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I knew that I would have to reluctantly break camp the next morning by 10am, for there was no way I was going to hike all the way out to Road's End in one day. I took the time to fish the lakelet, and some of the pools on East Creek, as I progressed downslope back to Bubbs Creek. Plenty of action. I took a long lunch at East Lake, napping a bit on the shore, and fishing an hour before leaving.Image
I scored a nice 12" fish, biggest of the trip, but before I could get my camera out of the case, and take a pic, he had slipped my lure, and was gone. As I was leaving, I was watching the lake from the trail above East Lake, and I saw a fish cruising that was obviously bigger than 12", even allowing for optical effects of water making fish seem bigger than they actually are. This lake is definitely worth a return visit for some serious fishing. On the way down to Bubbs Creek, there is a ford of a small creek, which is the outlet creek of Lake 11322. I did not hesitate to drink this water unfiltered. There is no trail to that lake and it is being filtered for 2000' as it descends towards the spot where it intersects this trail. Some of the sweetest water I have ever tasted. Anyone ever been to Lake 11322? Probably not too many of us.Image
I slowly made my way down trail, and my destination for my last(3rd) night on the trail, the camping area on Bubbs Creek just after the Charlotte Creek crossing. This is about the half way point from Road's End. There had been several tents pitched here when I went through on Saturday, but as expected, on Monday, I was the only person there. The first thing I saw as I approached the bear box was a bear, but she/he didn't mess with me,and I did not mess with her.
Tuesday morning, I fished a few pools on Bubbs, hooking a few small rainbows, and arrived at my car on a hot day in Kings Canyon at 1pm. Great trip!
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:11 am

Nice report. Your return to the High Sierra from back surgery is inspiring. I'd say this trip more or less stamps your "comeback" as complete. I haven't had anywhere near as difficult surgeries to rehab, but I did have two relatively minor knee surgeries early (recall Feb or March) in 1978 and 1998 that I was able to rehab in time for a full hiking season.

East and Reflection are nice destinations and your fishing experiences are certainly representative. Reflection is the prettier lake but it has small fish, whereas East has some good fish. I visited East in 1979 and 1994 and Reflection in 1994.
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: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:31 am

Great report. I have been at Reflection Lake twice, with no reflection! Both times I was quickly passing through and lighting was poor and the wind rippled the water. I need to go back with more time with staying at Reflection Lake as my objective. Good to hear that there is fishing also. You may have solved my problem of where to go next week!
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby SSSdave » Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:06 am

Thanks for taking the time writing up your report and images. Good to read about returns to favorite destinations.

A classic example of a destination area from west side trailheads that require long miles of hiking to reach. A couple of us backpacked up there late 90s and I've always wanted to make a return trip because the East Creek basin contains some of the finest photography subjects in the range although most are from perspectives away from trails and use routes. Places to climb up to cross country, thus out of sight, out of mind of most visitors. From the trailhead, the long 11 mile 3k+ foot uphill trail through the ordinary scenery of the glacial U-shaped canyon with bright granite walls to Junction Meadow doesn't have much to offer a photographer so is simply a long trudge carrying weight. But not any more effort than going over Shepherd Pass to the nearby vast upper Kern Basin I also have major plans for.

The original Wildernes Press Sierra South edition has a nice image of Reflection Lake that was touted as one of their better destinations but we didn't find the large lake that interesting because it is deeply down in a hole. Many of its slopes tends to be shady until late morning when its granite tends to be too harsh in the high sun. Also there are considerable north facing areas in the basin above the lake that tends to create cool sumping airflows down into the lake thus preventing calm mirroring reflections. And the large west to east canyon mass for many miles below East Creek quickly warms up thus expanding in morning sun creating stronger than average up canyon breezes than in other Sierra canyons.

In any case the lake scene is tall wide angle graphic with distant small peaks at top. Much of the lake has difficult and awkward slopes so visitors only tend to experience the northeast end where the trail meets. On such lakes like this one often finds a different fishing experience by making an effort to go around to sides of the lake that are difficult to access. Now beyond the canyon bottom of East Creek impressive foxtail pine forests begin to show and peaks proclaim its greatness with numbers of no name lakes and ponds providing superb experiences.
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby richlong8 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:14 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I too have found that taking a day or two working around wilderness lakes can be very rewarding, both from a scenery perspective, and fishing experience. Bench Lake(Taboose) comes to mind. However, on this trip, I was pretty beat just getting there, so I was content to just fish a small part of Lake Reflection. I would like to get up and over Harrison Pass, but plan such a trip so I stay a night in the basin about a mile or so from East Creek heading towards the pass. That seems like it might be an interesting place to take photos and fish.
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby maverick » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:26 pm

Very nice Rich, you got lucky with Lake Reflection, it is quit often very windy
up there. Just like the Meet-up, it was windy every day at Wales Lake, and then
the next day, after we left, Oleander got a glass reflection on it.
The lake as one approaches Harrison is quit a good subjects for photography, not
talking about the ones under the pass, but northwest of Ericsson Crags.
Always great to meet fellow HST members. :)
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby richlong8 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:28 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Great report. I have been at Reflection Lake twice, with no reflection! Both times I was quickly passing through and lighting was poor and the wind rippled the water. I need to go back with more time with staying at Reflection Lake as my objective. Good to hear that there is fishing also. You may have solved my problem of where to go next week!


I am no photographer, and I am sure you already know this, due to your extensive "wandering", but one factor that seems to be fairly common is that early morning is a good time for Sierra lakes to be still, and the breeze comes up later in the morning/day. If I can, I try to either sleep at a place where I think the pics will be good, or at least get an early morning start. That allowed me to get reflection shots at Lake Reflection, and also at East Lake, where I arrived in the morning about 30 minutes before the wind came up. I found the lighting "weird" at Lake Reflection though, with kind of a blue cast, and I am not sure why it is like that, and what to do about it, or even if I should try to "correct" the bluish tint in Adobe.
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby kpeter » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:59 pm

Gorgeous photos and a nice report.

To avoid that rock slide on the way to Lake Reflection I learned to wade East Creek and go up the west side of East Creek. I think the place I have forded is a slow sandy-bottomed spot upstream from where the inlet that comes down from Brewer arrives (the sidestream south of Ouzel creek.) As I recall there was something of a use trail on this side of the creek too in places, and it was quite a bit simpler than negotiating the rockslide. Plus I wound up camping on the west side of the outlet.
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby richlong8 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:51 pm

Thanks for the good advice. I never considered that option, of following the creek up.
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby richlong8 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:49 pm

maverick wrote:Very nice Rich, you got lucky with Lake Reflection, it is quit often very windy
up there. Just like the Meet-up, it was windy every day at Wales Lake, and then
the next day, after we left, Oleander got a glass reflection on it.
The lake as one approaches Harrison is quit a good subjects for photography, not
talking about the ones under the pass, but northwest of Ericsson Crags.
Always great to meet fellow HST members. :)

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Are you referring to the 2 higher lakes? The first lake up from East Creek canyon(800-1000'up) looks like a nice remote place to spend a night. More likely to have fish than the upper lakes, I would presume. That whole area seems like it has a lot of places that would photograph well. I took hundreds of shots, a couple of them of the ponds below Reflection with alpenglow reflected, almost good shots, but not quite how I wanted them to turn out.
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby astrogerly » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:53 pm

Rich

As someone who has also had two "recent" back surgeries, I know that an accomplishment this is and how you feel! The photos are amazing! I'm itching to visit Lake Reflection next summer...

Tiff
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Re: East Lake/Lake Reflection TR: 8/30-9/2(2014)

Postby richlong8 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:00 pm

Thanks for your encouragement. I'm trying to do all I can without doing too much. Having a goal of getting back out to the High Sierra has been a huge motivator, but only the grace of God has made achieving that goal possible.
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