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TR: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

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TR: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

Postby tlsharb » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:47 am

So this year I took a couple new guys with me from NH to introduce them to some "real" mtns (although there are many trails back here in the White Mtns that will kick you butt as hard as anything I've experienced in the Sierras). Still hard to believe you can get on a plane in Boston and by late afternoon be strapping on a pack at 8,200'. We did a loop from Courtright up to Red Mtn Basin then over to Bench Valley and out. Warning, there are a couple dead fish pics here-- though this is mostly a hiking story.

The Hikers: Paul, me, Christian (left to right)
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First night: Hobler Lake. Had a couple minutes to fish in the a.m. before hitting the trail, and the rainbows co-operated.
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Day two: Followed the Hobler outlet back down to the trail, and headed to Red Mt. basin. 4th year of drought, but water was still flowing at Post Corral and Fleming Creek. Saw an amazing amount of deer on the climb from Post Corral to Fleming Lake. When we hit the big meadow past Fleming Lake, Christian and I took a cross country shot straight to Dale Lake, while Paul took the trail. We beat him by about 20 minutes. Lots of brookies to be had here, and a beautiful place to camp.

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Day 3: Explore the north. We headed up to the Davis Lakes and Turf Lakes with the thought of climbing Mt. Henry. Never got to the top of Henry, but the fishing was good at the lakes. The last pic was interesting. Not sure what this critter was till we got home and googled it. Anybody want to guess?
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Part 2 to come.
Last edited by ERIC on Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited title



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Red Mtn to Bench Valley 2

Postby tlsharb » Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:59 pm

Picking up the story...
Day 4: Dale Lake to Crabtree Lake via Hutton Col This was my favorite day of the trip. We left Dale in the morning, fished a couple of the lakes on our way to the col (Hell for Sure and Arctic), then came the ascent of Hutton Col. Paul kept asking me, "so we are really going up that thing because you read somewhere on the internet that it was doable?" I'd just respond-- "yup, cause everything on the internet is trustable." Actually it wasn't too tough of an ascent...last 50 yards took a little figuring out, but I love this kind of climbing. Made our way down the hill and then over to Crabtree. It would get my vote for prettiest lake in the valley. The sunsets were awesome. Last time I was here was 1969-- hasn't changed a lot :) .
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Day 5: Decided to explore the upper end of Bench Valley. What a gorgeous little place. Especially liked W Twin Bucks Lake. One rainbow that totally swallowed a Panther Martin....so he became dinner. As you can see the sunset this night was unbelievable.
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Day 6: One the way home. We headed out from Crabtree and descended past the lower lakes, and then the steep descent along Falls Cr. Made it down to the North Fork of the Kings in pretty quick time. Set up camp, jumped in the river, and built a fire for the evening. Great trip....hope to be back this summer (maybe down in Blackcap this time).
**Sidenote. This pic is on the way down from Mcguire Lake to the Kings. I do believe it is right down in this drainage where they found the lady last summer that got hurt and was missing for 9 days.
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Hoping for a late summer trip again this summer. Thinking maybe going into Blackcap from Rancheria, Would like to get over to Blue Canyon, and then get up Valor Pass on another day. And a note to all you here at HST-- for those of us who only get one shot a year at the Sierra, the info here in invaluable. Thanks so much for your input.
Last edited by ERIC on Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Merged the two part TR into one thread
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Re: Red Mtn to Bench Valley 2

Postby Troutdog 59 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:20 pm

Thanks for a wonderful TR for a splendid region. Love all the pics, but the sunset pics are fantastic!!!!!!! Surprisingly to me, I have only ventured into the Red Mountain Basin once before and was really just passing through. This and your post last year have peaked my interest in this area again. Thanks!!! We will have to see what this year brings.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

R. Trower
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Re: Red Mtn to Bench Valley 2

Postby Snowtrout » Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:30 pm

Looks like you had a great trip. Pics look very similar to the ones I took a few weeks before your trip. West buck had some of the bigger fish too.

Hutton Col......going up the north side looks a lot easier than coming down it but my wife and I won't be doing that again [-(
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Re: Red Mtn to Bench Valley 2

Postby tlsharb » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:05 pm

Snowtrout,
I think I fished all but three of the lakes in Bench Valley. All but one had small brookies and rainbows. How one lake produces fish of greater size than all the others around it is still a mystery to me. I would guess it has to do with lower breeding potential and ample food sources, but there are other lakes right around that seem to be the exact same, and sure don't produce the same fish. Mysterious. Same in Red Mtn basin. At least two of those lakes carry large rainbows, and three decent size goldens. Who knows why?
ts
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Re: Red Mtn to Bench Valley 2

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:22 pm

Very enjoyable TR to a beautiful area, love the sunset photo series, thanks for sharing them. :thumbsup:
Steep stuff is always easier to ascend then descend. :)
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Re: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

Postby rlown » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:00 pm

Very nice report, ts! Both this and part 2 (liked that finger point pic to the direction of travel in part2 :) ). Thanks for sharing!

Russ
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Re: TR: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

Postby sekihiker » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:06 pm

Thanks for the TR with pics. Love the area.
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Re: TR: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:24 pm

Great TR! Thanks for taking the time to post it. Yes, some of us only get limited time in the backcountry. Every moment is savored as a result.

We did 8 days in the Red Mountain basin last August, along the LeConte Divide. I'm trying to get photos from one of our party then will post my TR.
-Dominic D.
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Re: TR: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

Postby tlsharb » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:36 am

Dominic,
What days were you in the basin? We were at Dale Lake on the 3rd and 4th, and then hiked over to Bench Valley on 5th. Never saw another human in the time we were there. We did run into a couple groups at Crabtree.
ts
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Re: TR: Red Mtn to Bench Valley

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:53 am

tlsharb wrote:Dominic,
What days were you in the basin? We were at Dale Lake on the 3rd and 4th, and then hiked over to Bench Valley on 5th. Never saw another human in the time we were there. We did run into a couple groups at Crabtree.
ts


Hi tlsharb.

Here is the link to our TR which includes all of the pertinent dates and times:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14204

Cheers! :) Dominic D.
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