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TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

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TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:49 pm

Sept 25. I drove to the east side and got a permit at noon, a bite to eat in Bishop and reached the trailhead at 2PM only to find that I had to park back down the road adding extra miles. The aspen were turning providing a colorful hike up to Blue Lake. The trail was busy with trail-runners and day-hikers. I found a large established campsite near the inlet; another group was nearby along the shore. By 4:30 I was set up and started fishing determined to stop by 5:30 in time for a leisurely dinner. I caught two fish, one at the inlet and one off a big rock on the east shore. Several ducks diving down and swimming around provided lakeside entertainment for dinner. A bit of smoky smell drifted in about dark, but thankfully most of the day was clear. Photos at Blue Lake below:

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Sept 26. The night was unusually warm. I was awake at 5:30 due to going to bed so early and by 6AM it was just light enough to get up and stumble around without a headlamp. I was off at 7:45 heading up the drainage. A come-and-go use-trail/route ends at the northwest arm of Baboon 10976 where abundant excellent campsites are located on a timbered bench above the north shore. Low water levels facilitated walking along the shore after crossing the outlet. I crossed the inlet, went over a rocky ridge and then followed a fair use-trail along the drainage. The route is cliffy and not obvious so I was glad for the use-trail. As I reached Sunset Lake a gale-force wind about blew me down. Not the best conditions for fly fishing! Nevertheless I waited between gusts and threw my fly out on whitecaps. Obviously I had better luck taking photos then fishing. Sunset Lake is beautiful but camping up here would be challenging. I then dropped back down the drainage, and caught and released two small fish at the pond at 11,400 feet where I met two other fishermen heading to Sunset Lake. At Baboon Lakes fishing was good and I caught three fat rainbow and two big-headed brookies. Then I dropped southeast of the outlet directly to Donkey Lake (big mistake- not a great route). Donkey Lake is surrounded by cliffs and rocks. I snagged a few fish but did not land them. By the time I had worked my way to the north end of the lake I was caught in talus and a not-too-easy route back to Blue Lake. I cleaned the fish, put them in a gallon zip-lock with cold water and decided I had time to move camp to Dingleberry Lake where I camped at a large established site along the inlet stream. I looked pretty crazy going along the trail with my fish in a bag, fishing pole, trekking poles and backpack! The fish alone filled me up for dinner, after which I walked around Dingleberry Lake, a not very impressive shallow lake.

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Baboon Lake

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Sunset Lake

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Ponds below Sunset Lake

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Creek above Dingleberry Lake, near campsite



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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:54 pm

Sept 27. It was another warm night, bright with the nearly full moon. I was on the trail by 8AM headed to Hungry Packer Lake. Two groups were camped at the outlet; I walked to the campsites on the arm along the northwest shore and set up. By the time I returned to the outlet the people had left. I traversed above Moonlight Lake which at first seemed a good short-cut but the route spit me out in a horrible field of talus. After much rock-hopping I intersected the use-trail to Echo Lake. Again, gale force winds at Echo Lake made fishing a lost cause. The sun was wrong for photos so I neither caught fish or good photos. There is hardly a speck of snow remaining in the upper cirque- very sad. Rather than returning on the use-trail I dropped along the beautiful drainage, which was full of tiny fish, coming out on the southeast side of the inlet to the much lowered water level of Moonlight Lake where I hopped rocks that would normally be under water to reach the southwest shore where I started catching nice fat fish. I had lost my zip-lock so had to dangle the fish on a stringer going through large talus as I dropped to Sailor Lake, which had much smaller fish. I caught one and released it deciding cleaning the small fish would not be worth the effort. Back at Hungry Packer I was curious if there were fish. I caught a rainbow but it got off the hook by the time I had it near shore. I fished my way back to camp, cleaned the fish I had, and spent a half-hour fishing; several “bites” but no fish. Well, I had enough anyway and stuffed my belly with fish again. After dinner I lay in the tent watching for the super-moon eclipse; unfortunately by the time the moon was above the clouds and the ridge, I only saw the last third of the eclipse; a half shadowed moon returning to full. It was another warm and bright night with Picture Peak glowing in the moonlight.

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Hungry Packer Lake

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View towards Echo Lake outlet

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Creek draining into Moonlight Lake

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Moonlight Lake

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Sailor Lake

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The day's catch
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:00 pm

Sept 28. I dropped back to Sailor Lake taking some morning photos then left the trail and dropped to Topsy Turvy Lake where there were lots of fish. I agonized over whether to fish; not wanting to haul fish about all day, I just watched the fish. At the junction I took a side trip up to beautiful Midnight Lake, where again I saw fish, but decided to just take photos and eat lunch. As I returned past my previous campsite at Dingleberry Lake I found a tea bag I had left and my zip-lock bag that had blown away. It is nice to retrieve lost items and not leave garbage in the wilderness. I had decided to go to Fishgut Lakes simply because I had not been there; my expectations were low as it did not look that impressive of a location from the map and my anxiety level high as I looked at the cliffs I would have to get over. The route was not bad as pathways opened up as I traversed upward due north from Dingleberry Lake and Fishgut drainage more beautiful than I had expected. I found a great campsite and had plenty of time to fish and explore. I took a much needed bath then quickly caught dinner, leaving time to run up to beautiful Bottleneck Lake where the sun angle precluded photos. I caught two fish and let them go as I already had plenty. Then I walked to outlet of Lake 11010, returned to camp as I could see sun hitting the tops of peaks. I hurried back up to the ridge between Fishgut and Dingleberry Lakes, but alas, by the time I got to the top the sunlight was gone, but the view was still spectacular. I pigged out on a fish dinner again and hit the sack early and listened to music until 9PM.

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View from Soldier Lake towards Hungry Packer Lake

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Topsy Turvy Lake

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Fishgut Lakes

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Lake below Fishgut Lakes

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View from ridge between Fishgut Lakes and Dingleberry Lake

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Sunset at Fishgut Lakes
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Bluewater » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:05 pm

Thanks for your TR and photos. I've never been up through that part of Sabrina Basin, but it definitely looks worth checking out next time. I especially like the photo of the small tarn along the outlet of Sunset Lake.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:09 pm

Oh, forgot these photos

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Hungry Packer Lake

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Midnight Lake

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Midnight Lake

Sept 29-30. I debated what to do; hike over to George Lake and day-hike to Tyee Lakes or spend more time here at Fishgut drainage. The latter won; why not just explore the upper lakes here? I headed up to Schober Lakes. The route up was obvious and easy and I was at the middle lake by 9:30 where I was surprised to meet a young fellow. Long story short, he had taken a wrong turn, missed Lamark Col, descended a horrible pass at night, and now thought he was at the Darwin Lakes. Pointing out he was in the wrong drainage, he was shocked. We reviewed his options and he decided to go out with me to the trail and back to his car and start over! No way was he going to go back up the pass he had come down. I went to the upper lake to fish as he read a book. I caught a few nice fish at the middle lake but let them go. Back at camp at noon, I packed up and we returned to the trail where we said good-by and I headed up to fish Emerald Lakes. The upper lake had tons of 6-inch fish- I kept two. It was hard to keep the fish from the fly! The upper Emerald Lake is quite lovely; the lower Emerald Lakes are very shallow and low on water. Then on to camp at the outlet side of Blue Lake for a different perspective than I had on my first day. By now my fishing gear was down to a short 3-foot leader (I caught too many trees and forgot to bring extra leader) and only a few barbless flies. I snagged a few fish but failed to land them. Clouds built up overnight (finally a cold night) and by the morning although I still had enough food to spend another day and see Tyee Lakes, I decided to just walk out to my car and drive home.

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Pond above Fishgut Lakes on the route to Schober Lakes

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Middle and Lower Schober Lakes

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Upper Schober Lake

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Upper Emerald Lake

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Middle Emerald Lake

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Blue Lake from outlet camp

Three more photos taken on first day

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Fall colors on trail above Sabrina Lake

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Sabrina Lake

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Blue Lake from inlet
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Oct 02, 2015 5:47 pm

Nice report and photos. I can almost feel the crispness of the fall air in my nostrils looking at your photos. It is so nice to see those views with that smoky curtain removed.
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: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby kpeter » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:06 pm

A lovely report about one of my favorite areas. I've been to all those lakes but some like Sunset and Schober were long ago and I have no decent photographs, so seeing your pictures was a wonderful time machine for me. I've also never been there so late in the year, it was quite interesting to see what it looks like at this time. I loved Dingleberry and often stayed somewhere along its inlet stream before the trail passed on stepping stones over the creek. Dingleberry didn't impress you....I wonder if it looks better earlier in the year. Baboon Lakes have banks of paintbrush around them if you hit them at the right time. Thank you for bringing back many happy memories.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Eiprahs » Fri Oct 02, 2015 10:12 pm

Another great trip report. I was particularly interested in your description of the Schober Lakes and your encounter with the guy who dropped into them from the other side. Great photos!

I've got a complex about finding an easy route from Sabrina Basin to the Evolution area. I read somewhere about a 'use trail' from Lamarck Col to the saddle above the Schober Lakes. The writer did not cross the divide, but speculated one could do so. Seems this young guy proved the possibility--maybe there is a faint trail prominent enough to lead him astray.

Did you notice the fish in that dinky pond you pass on the way from Blue to Dingleberry Lake--just past the trail into Emerald Lakes? Small but plentiful in surprisingly small and isolated pool.

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby balance » Sat Oct 03, 2015 1:12 am

Thanks for the trip report. You caught some beautiful autumn colors. Your photos are so well composed and show a wide variety of topography. It looks like you spend a lot of time getting just the right angle and lighting. But with the ground you cover and the fishing, that certainly can't be the case. There's no substitute for experience.

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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:21 am

The fellow I met did what many of us have done- work hard, short vacation, push hard to get into the mountains, wiped out by the first day altitude reaching a critical pass near darkness. He was humble, grateful to find out his mistake, and really absorbing the experience as a lesson learned. Very nice fellow. Nearing Lamarck Col, he followed a "cairned" route which unfortunately lead to the wrong pass. Although he had a compass, he was in a hurry to beat darkness and dropped down without taking a compass reading, now going south instead of west. One thing bad about today's powerful headlamps is that they give enough light to pick your way down talus, but still do little for overall orientation. In the old days, we would have stopped at a forced bivy and waited for daylight. The full moon was behind clouds early that evening, so it would have been quite dark.

The pass this fellow took does not connect Darwin Lake with Sabrina- rather it heads south from the tarn below Lamarck Col. He said the upper 600 feet was all class 3. He had done technical climbing in Yosemite Valley so his assessment of "class 3" is probably accurate. So this was no "use-trail". The pass is not in Secor's guidebook. Sometimes it is hard to tell if rocks are "cairns" or not; perhaps it really was not a cairned route.

I have been "dis-oriented" myself several times and even though I intellectually know what I should have done, I think it is human nature for your mind to make the terrain in front of you "fit" the terrain that you should have been in; not the terrain that you really are in. It is a good reminder for all of us. When things start to look funny, stop, clear your mind of preconceived ideas, get out the map and compass, orient yourself, and with a fresh perspective figure out where you really are.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby balance » Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:58 am

Good advice Wandering Daisy. No doubt we've all got turned around like that for at least a little while.

Now here's an interesting consideration. Once you get into, let's say your sixties, there's no way you have that extra energy to power through an "awkward" situation from a temporary navigation miscalculation. I currently don't use GPS in summer. But now I'm considering giving myself the advantage of using GPS as backup to map and compass for those off trail situations where its getting dark, weather closing in, ambiguous trail markers, etc.

Case in point: On my trip this summer to Emigrant Wilderness, the "trail" from Emigrant Lake to High Emigrant Meadow Lake often disappeared, was overgrown, or headed in a completely unexpected direction. To be honest, at times I didn't consult my map and compass as much as I should have. I just kept roughly in the center of this beautiful alpine valley, flying by "the seat of my pants". It turned out fine. But it was the sort of situation where I could easily have gone the wrong way and wound up far off track. I had plenty of time and the weather was ideal, but having a GPS would have removed a lot of "uncertainty" from the journey.

But isn't that the problem with GPS? If you start depending on it to make navigation easier, doesn't that take some of the adventure and discovery out of the trip? Does it set you up for an even bigger mistake, when the batteries run out, etc? That's why I don't use GPS. But if used properly, can it improve your safety factor? For example, what about a five day trip in October, when the clear trail you came up becomes a big, snowy expanse, filled with opportunities for error, on the way back down.

All things considered, what do you think? I'm interested in other opinions or experience on this subject. Thank you.

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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin 9/25-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:30 am

I do not see age as a factor. The young have more reserve energy so may be able to stick their necks out farther. Over the years I simply have matched my "adventures" with my energy- regardless of age, I ALWAYS know and plan for the amount of reserve energy I have. I have poor night vision so have never traveled at night. I am the bivouac queen- where most others would push on I simply stop when it gets dark. I aim to end my hiking at about 3-4 PM giving me plenty of time for goof-ups. I do think we old folks may be more inclined to consider taking a PLB, because of our higher risk of medical issues. I do not keep up on the technology- do they make combined GPS/PLB devices?

A GPS used to be quite heavy so I never considered one. Now they are much lighter. If you were not to use it except in emergencies, then you would not need lots of extra batteries. Honestly, I ditched the compass years ago, so am now only using maps. I would probably add back the compass before I added a GPS. If I were to go into an area with less prominent landmarks or heavy forests I would take a GPS. I think it is an individual thing. I have a really good natural sense of direction (my husband says I have an internal built-in compass). He does not so he uses a GPS.

I think the more basic issue is knowing/recognizing when you are off track. The fellow I met had camped at middle Schober Lake, and honestly thought he was at one of the Darwin Canyon lakes, even after getting up in the daylight and starting to travel. He was quite shocked when I said he was in Sabrina Basin. If he had a GPS he likely would not have used it since he was "sure" where he was. Same reason he did not use is compass.

Lots of times I am not 100% sure if where I am. I rarely get into the wrong basin, but can easily be quarter mile or so from where I should be in the same drainage. If I feel uncertain, I really look at my maps a lot while traveling. I keep on my track but in the back of my mind consider several scenarios of being in different places. Usually after some walking some very distinct feature comes into view and I then can determine my location. 95% of the time I am correct, but just lose my confidence. This does not cause a great deal of anxiety for me; if it does for YOU then by all means take a GPS for a backup.

That whole "sense of adventure" thing is bogus. For me, being lost does not add to my sense of adventure; contrarily it can really ruin a good trip.
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