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Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

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Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby Snowtrout » Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:19 pm

My wife and I are planning on a 6 day trip up into the red mountain basin and bench valley areas next week. I have read lots of info on this forum and other sites about the area but have a few questions. We are thinking about doing this trip counter clock wise, so visiting the bench valley area first. Itinerary: day one kings River, day two ??, day three Schoolmarm (might make this a two night destination), day four Horseshoe and day five Fleming, Rae, or Dale.

Our experience, mostly on trail but this would be our first time going cross country over a pass and possibly trying to bag our first peak, Mt. Hutton.

My questions. I have read there is a trail off fall creek that can save some time...worth taking or looking for instead of taking the trail south of big maxson meadows? Schoolmarm lake is somewhere I thought about staying for 1-2 nights..any other lakes we should visit? Hiking into red mountain basin, which route to take: Hutton col into Arctic lake or lucifer's pass into Devils punch bowl?

For my next questions, you might want to PM me since it has to do with fishing. I have a partial list of what fish species are present in some of the lakes in these areas (mostly rainbow and brook) but have read goldens are also up here. Care to give me a clue where to look ;)
Thanks in advance. Will post a TR when we get back.



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Re: Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:05 pm

Hiking into red mountain basin, which route to take: Hutton col into Arctic lake or lucifer's pass into Devils punch bowl.


Our experience, mostly on trail but this would be our first time going cross country over a pass and possibly trying to bag our first peak, Mt. Hutton.

Since this is your first x-country pass, go with Lucifer's Pass, which really consists of going over two passes, but the northern side of Hutton is not the best pick for a first timers x-country pass.

Lakes all around Schoolmarm are definitely worth seeing, all the way up to Bullet Lakes.

There are TR's available, which will give you an idea of which lakes have good fishing.
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Re: Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby Snowtrout » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:43 pm

Maverick, thank you for the info and suggestions. The two pass route might be best for my wife to gain confidence with before tackling some more difficult routes. Might also focus on exploring the lakes instead of tackling mt hutton.

Again, thank you for the advice.
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Re: Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby sekihiker » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:35 am

For additional information on this area, visit:
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
There is more info in some of the other reports at sierrahiker.com, also.
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Re: Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:31 pm

I thought the lakes upstream of Fleming Lake were the least scenic of the lakes in the Blackcap/Red Mountain areas. I think they may be more of fishing destinations. Davis was the most scenic of this set of lakes. There used to be some hard-to-catch big fish in Fleming Lake.

Horseshoe Lake was my favorite of Red Mountain Basin Lakes, even though it has limited camping. It is a bit hard to get to because there are cliffs on the shore that do not show on the map. I traversed from Big Shot to Horseshoe Lake. Blackrock Lake is also quite nice and has some good established campsites. I day-hiked around Hell-for-Sure Lake. It was quite windy. Devil's Punchbowl is classic with good campsites, but when I was there it was also the most crowded lake. I camped at Big Shot because I was too tired to continue to Devils Punchbowl. The campsites were limited but I got some beautiful sunset photos.

Schoolmarm, Six Shooter and Holster Lakes are very scenic and lush green. The upper lakes are more stark. Lots of little fish in the drainage. The travel from Horsehead Lake is more complicated than shown on the map. It is not really hard, just takes some time. I day-hiked to Guest Lake, and it was loaded with mosquitoes- very swampy and little good camping. I camped on the buttress north of the outlet of Horsehead Lake. Good fishing, but not huge fish. I also day hiked up to Little Joe Lake and it was worth the effort but pretty windy and exposed.

The double pass from Schoolmarm to Big Shot Lake was harder than I expected, from the information I had. The upper 200 feet down to Big Shot is talus. Overall not difficult, but not a piece of cake either. The drop to Crabtree Lake is also tricky - steep slabs and benches.

There are some pretty neat campsites east of BM 8028 on the rock slabs if you cross the North Fork of the Kings River. You can hike down the canyon a short distance for some impressive views. There are also campsites at the Fleming Lake trail junction. The Fleming Creek trail is a large horse trail. I did not go on the other trails, except the main trail to Blackcap Basin, which is also a fairly well maintained trail.

The Blackcap Basin lakes were my favorite. The approach is longer in miles, but it really does not take that much longer than Red Mountain Basin or Bench Valley. It took me two days to get to Pearl Lake- half a day to the river at BM 8028 and a long day to Pearl Lake.

I did a trip in 2013 and there should be a trip report on it.
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Re: Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:34 pm

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
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Re: Red mountain basin/Bench valley questions

Postby Snowtrout » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:03 pm

Wandering Daisy, thank you for the detailed info. Your TR from 2013 is what made me decide to go counter clockwise and follow most of your route in the bench and red mountain areas. Hope you don't mind ;)

I think horsehead or filly lake might be our 2nd night destination. That's about 2400' vertical from the 8028' spot you suggested for night one. If blackrock has better camping than horseshoe, we will probably stay there. Hit horseshoe and arctic on a day hike instead.

Looking forward to the trip. A few big first for us on this trip: first time going over a non-trail pass, first time sleeping above 10k, first time this deep in the Sierra and longest trip mileage for us. If I or my wife can catch a brown in the Kings, might even get a Sierra slam also \:D/
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