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Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

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Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:53 am

Piute Pass Area Fishing Trip: Aug 9-15, 2015.

This was our annual fishing trip. This year my husband had just had an outpatient heart procedure done two weeks earlier, so his “doc” said take it easy. Although our route and pace was “easy” I failed to consider the total elevation, since elevation rarely bothers me. Luckily, it turned out OK. This family trip also included our border collie, Lupe.

We drive to North Lake on Sunday and all campsites were full so we backed down to Intake 2 campground and spent a lazy afternoon car camping. There were many day-users fishing the intake pond and near dusk the fish were rising. I was lazy, and did not want to put my fishing gear together but I took Lupe for a walk to the dam outlet.

Monday, we got up at dawn, leisurely packed up and drove back to the North Lake trailhead to start up the trail by about 9AM. Our pace was on the order of half a mile an hour with many rest breaks. A cool breeze helped. We met several backpackers coming out. At Loch Leven Lake Lupe immediately went swimming as we sat in the shade. We continued slowly to Piute Lake and found a nice campsite on the north shore; two other groups were camped nearby. We set up the tent and hubby and dog took a nap while I day-hiked up to Emerson Lake. I did not take fishing gear, but did take the camera. It was getting hazier as smoke drifted in. After taking a nice bath I hiked to the southwest end and stepped on a rock and a fish bolted. I now knew there were fish in the lake. There are two nice campsites at Emerson Lake that offer much more solitude than busy Piute Lake. Back at Piute Lake I found hubby fishing. He had caught five 7-8 inch fish, three rainbow and two brook trout. I went to the inlet and caught three more brookies of similar size. The smoke had increased, as had the wind making fishing a bit challenging. We took our fish to the lake and cleaned them while Lupe looked on. We cooked up a nice fish dinner, shared it with Lupe and went in our bags early. Not sure others would approve, but Lupe is my “dishwasher”- she licks all the pots clean. A quick rinse and dishes are done. The smoke was quite thick but in the middle of the night I could see stars as it cleared.

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Loch Leven

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Emerson Lake

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Smoky sunset

Tuesday morning broke clear as a bell and sunny. We were up at 6AM but since all our days were short-mileage, we had a very leisurely breakfast. I took some sunrise photos and we did not leave until 9AM. At Piute Pass we ran into a couple from Australia doing the HSR, waiting on resupply. When we arrived at the north end of Muriel Lake, after a long search, we found that all the campsites were small for our three-man tent. I convinced my husband to continue to lower Goethe Lake and before we arrived, he had read me the riot act about the altitude. Once there we found a nice roomy campsite a bit sheltered from the fierce wind. Hubby and dog again took a nap and I fished the east shores of Goethe Lakes. Again, at noon, the smoke rolled in so I did not bother to take my camera. I snagged a few small fish but they got away. I finally landed a sardine and let it go. Then I hit pay dirt and amazingly landed a 14-15” golden trout. Unfortunately, the fish was probably on its last fins as it really did not put up much of a fight and cooked up very tough. Nevertheless, catching a big fish is always exciting and landing it on a shore that was nothing but big talus was tricky. Back at camp another fisherman had come up and caught some nice fat 8-9 inch golden. My husband also was out fishing with Lupe who was ”helping” by swimming in the lake and “herding” the fish! I found an old tennis ball and threw it for Lupe while my husband fished and caught two. Again the wind and waves made fishing challenging. Lupe loved this campsite as it had a nice grassy area for her to run. We cooked our fish; the smaller fish actually were better tasting. We hit the sleeping bags early as once the shadows encroached, with the steady wind, it was really cold outside. Lupe snuggled up between us and began to snore.

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Sunrise at Piute Lake

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My big fish

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Smoky again at lower Goethe Lake



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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:59 am

Wednesday we also got up early since our windy cold campsite actually got very early sunshine. The brisk morning got us moving earlier, and we were out of camp by 8AM, heading down to Lake 11183, one of the Wahoo Lakes. Again the morning hours were clear and the wind was calmer here so we took a long break. Then we dropped to Upper Golden Trout Lake. Lupe went swimming every chance she could get. With her black fur she becomes a “hotdog” in the sun so swimming is almost essential for her. We continued on the trail to the outlet of the lower Golden Trout Lake. It was near noon giving us plenty of time to reach Packsaddle Lake, although it took some salesmanship on my part to convince my husband to continue. Thankfully the off-trail route is quite easy taking us only an hour even as slow as we were. The wind again had picked up and smoke blew in so we chose a sheltered campsite near the outlet. Again, hubby and dog took a nap. I took my fishing gear up to Paine Lake but not the camera since the smoke now precluded any decent photos. There is a marked route up the steep slope to Paine Lake and I was at the outlet in 20 minutes. The wind was even worse up here. I fished the southwest shore, caught one very small golden that I threw back. I then snagged a couple of decent sized ones, but they broke loose before I could land them. Returning to the outlet I fished the north shore and then gave up and went back to camp. Then we all went fishing at Packsaddle Lake. My husband caught several healthy 8-9 inch golden trout but I was skunked. It was nearly 7PM before we finished dinner. The fish started rising in the small outlet pond below camp so I went down and caught two fish (had them for breakfast next day).

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Sunrise at Lower Goethe Lake

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Muriel Lake from lower Goethe Lake

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rest at Wahoo Lakes

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Wahoo Lake 11183

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Upper Golden Trout Lake

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Mt Humphreys from Upper Golden Trout Lake

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Outlet crossing below Lower Golden Trout Lake
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:06 am

Thursday we were disorganized in addition to cleaning and cooking fish and take advantage of the wonderful sunrise photos; we did not leave until nearly 10AM. Although a nice windbreak, the site was full of needles and pitch; it took almost half an hour to brush out Lupe and clip off all the pitch before we left. She is really furry being a long haired “rough” breed Border Collie. We took a lower traverse back to Golden Trout Lake; a route that started out fine but ended up more effort than simply going on a bee-line route higher over the ridge. After a rest at the outlet, we back on the trail. Just off the trail a hawk had a squirrel in its talons. Lupe stood stark still; the hawk stood still. It dropped the squirrel as we passed. Hopefully he went back and got his meal. Near the creek below Upper Golden Trout Lake we found a large established campsite behind a tree windbreak. Although a bit far from the water, it was a comfortable site and even had a rock built “kitchen”. Weather was a repeat of previous days- wind picked up and smoke rolled in. Our routine was also the same; hubby and dog took a nap and I hiked. This time I took fishing gear up to Lower Desolation Lake. I was surprised that there were hordes of people up there. We had met few and had most of our campsites to ourselves so far. I started on the east shore and circled counter-clockwise fishing. I had to work hard to land my three fish. Where I better at landing fish I would have been done in one hour; instead it was one fish landed per hour. I promised to get back by 5PM, so I returned nearly at a run. But I could not resist fishing the small pond at 11120 feet elevation where one could catch a 4-5 inch fish every cast. I threw the small guy back and continued to Upper Golden Lake, where again, I could not resist. Here I quickly caught three nice 8-9” brook trout and managed to get back to camp at 5:30. Lupe, was actually more concerned than my husband. Lupe feels it is her “job” to keep us together and does not like it when I go off in a different direction. She was very happy to see me. My husband had also been very successful and we had 10 fish. Lupe and I love to eat fish so we never can have too many fish to eat! After dinner the sunset provided an odd show. Due to the smoke it was vividly colored and during one short interval the sun was actually magenta. The photo below was NOT processed! That is the real color.

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Sunrise at Packsaddle Lake

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Outlet pond below Packsaddle Lake

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Leaving Packsaddle Lake

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Fish for dinner (9-inch frying pan)

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A watched pot never boils

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Odd smoky sunset
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:12 am

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Packsaddle Lake

Friday we were up early and headed back to Piute Pass, this time via the trail. We took the lower trail that passes Summit Lake where we took a break. Again it was clear but very windy. Even in the sun it was chilly. I tried to talk hubby into camping at Emerson Lake, but no luck. Instead we camped at Piute Lake, this time near the outlet just below the rock “house”. Wind remained fierce and we again found a nice campsite and windbreak. Smoke rolled in, but a bit less than the previous days. This time I took the fishing rod and left the camera in camp as I hiked up to Emerson Lake. I fished up there about 2 hours. Finally I hit the jackpot and found the little cove where all the bigger fish (about 9” but quite fat) were hanging out. I caught five brook trout and returned to camp just as hubby was getting up from his nap. He and Lupe fished Piute Lake and I walked down to Loch Leven Lake (farther than I had remembered; late in the day I only fished about 5 minutes). Luckily a 12-inch rainbow struck. It jumped several times almost two feet into the air as I pulled it in. I filled a large OP sack with water and hauled the fish back to camp. In the meantime a scout group and a father with kids had set up near us. Hubby had quickly caught several smaller rainbow trout from Piute Lake. We went to the lake and did our group fish cleaning then had another fish feast. I was disappointed to see how short my 12-inch fish was after head and tail were removed! We went inside the tent just before dark. The scouts walked by and for the first time on the trip, Lupe barked. She wanted us to look outside and check the scene. After that, she snuggled up between us and was fast asleep. So were we!

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Crossing outlet of Upper Golden Trout Lake

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Ponded creek near Summit Lake

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Rest at Summit Lake

Saturday we left. And this was the first day that the smoke did not fill the sky in the afternoon! Oh well, you get what you get with weather in the mountains. Being a weekend, the trail was crowded. The scouts were behind us, and then passed. Their packs were the most ill-packed that I have seen in ages. I just wanted to stop them and pull out all their gear and show them how to pack! But I repressed that motherly urge since it really was none of my business. On our drive home we passed the Walker Fire, relieved that it had not closed the road, but sad to see more of the Sierra burn.

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Sunrise at Piute Lake

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Leaving Piute Lake

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Nearing Loch Leven Lake

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Back at Loch Leven Lake
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:02 pm

Great TR and pictures as usual WD, thanks for including more shots of Lupe. :)

There has been over 40 views of this post, I know I am not the only one who enjoyed reading this well written TR and photo's.

Members who take the time to write-up, and especially add numerous pictures, deserve at least an acknowledgement of their efforts, even if they are not expecting it. Not only do TR's and photo's give many of us enjoyment, but also supplies us with up to date backcountry conditions, which are indispensable. These TR's are one of the best qualities of HST, and what makes HST such a great resource, it would be a shame if people stopped posting as much, because they felt a lack of appreciation for their time and effort.
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: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby MountainMinstrel » Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:43 pm

Those smoky sunset pictures are awesome, but A bit scary. I would not mind having a few of those on my HST the first of Sept. But I worry that we might get smoked out.
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby BigMan » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:59 pm

Thank you for the wonderful trip report. I'm looking forward to exploring this part of Humphrey's Basin; your report has inspired me.

I guess the smoke can provide something favorable - vividly colorful sunsets.

I really enjoyed the shots with your husband and Lupe. Were you able to get a shot with all three of you?

- Geoff
In wilderness lies the hope of the world.
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:11 pm

I never really think about getting myself in a photo. Lupe is definitely cuter than either my husband or myself. The smoke would have been very oppressive if it lasted all day; thankfully we had clear mornings and nights. At one point it did sting our eyes and we coughed a bit. The cirque above Paine Lake is quite impressive but it was really hazy so I did not even try to get a shot. I have a photo from Lower Desolation Lake but it is quite hazy and awful. One advantage of going so slow is that I finally got a chance to see Paine Lake and Emerson Lake.
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby rlown » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:40 pm

Nice report, WD!

What was your route between Payne and Packsaddle? I'm pretty sure it wasn't the outlet and up the giant sized boulders.
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:23 pm

Sweet report and a wonderful trip. By the way, you probably already know this, but you succeeded where many fishing folks have failed at the Goethes. I am one of many who is zero-for-Goethes. That frying pan photo is nice too--what a combination of colors with goldens and brookies! I just got back into town this evening after two days (dayhikes) of Yosemite brookie fishing (including getting broken off for the 4th time this summer).
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: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby balzaccom » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:02 pm

Nice report Daisy. We were up there in early July, and visited many of the same lakes; Goethe, Muriel, Wahoos, Desolations...etc. Camped at Upper Golden Trout as a base camp---and even fished that same pond below Lower Desolation, with tons of small goldens.

It's a lovely area. Thanks for taking me back again.
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Piute Pass TR (8/9-15, 2015)

Postby windknot » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:27 am

Thanks for the great report and photos, WD. That truly is an amazing sunset.

And a really nice golden at Goethe. For as humble as you are at describing your fishing, methinks a big part of this may just be modesty -- you've bested me in at least two of the lakes that we've both visited, and I'm positive that list would grow exponentially if I were ever to reach the amount of backpacking you've done!
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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