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Blackcap Options

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Blackcap Options

Postby tlsharb » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:58 pm

Greetings,
I'm putting together a late August trip to Blackcap Basin for a week. Haven't been there in a long time, but wanted to bag a couple peaks (Finger and Reinstein), and do some fishing. So I have a couple questions:

1. Our flights into Fresno usually get in around noon, which will put us at the Rancheria trailhead about 3pm. We could either hike into Duck Lake, or head down to Indian Springs. Having never been to either, which would be a better first night destination? Our plan would be to go over Chuck Pass and end up at Halfmoon Lake the next day.

2. When we get to Blackcap on day 3, where would be a good place to set up a base camp for a couple days. Years ago I camped at Pearl, but don't really remember much about it. Portal would be a good central place, or we could go up the hill near Cathedral. Anyone have a favorite?

Thanks much,
terry



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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby AaronRDavis » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:44 pm

1. I hit the Rancheria trailhead at about 3pm once and Indian Springs was a pretty good spot with ample areas to camp, although there was quite a bit of condensation down there. It made for a direct hike up to Chuck Pass in the morning though.

2. I enjoyed camping on the big shelf on the W side of Pearl Lake, near the outlet. Peak 12323 is a nice peak to look up at from my tent. Really all of the lakes in the Blackcap basin are very pleasant. The area between Ambition lk and Lightning Corral meadow is very idyllic as well.
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:18 am

It's 20 years since I was there, but I do remember we set up our basecamp in that area between Ambition and Lightning Corral Meadow, and idyllic is the word for it. It's a good basecamp for Reinstein--we climbed it on what I recall as a not terribly strenuous dayhike.
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:36 pm

This album has photos of most of the lakes right there. They are all very nice I think.
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:31 pm

If you willing to include a bit of off trail travel in place of taking the "long way" via Halfmoon Lake on your way to Blackcap Basin you may be able to cut a day off of your travel time. I agree that with a 3 pm take off time, Indian Springs would be a reasonable camping spot for your first night. There are even some brook trout of sufficient size to eat in Woodchuck Creek and its little tributaries, surprising as that may seem (these are really small creeks). Note that if you are comfortable with off trail travel you can "cut the corner" directly to Indian Springs rather than descending all the way to the Chuck Pass trail junction.

On day 2, again, if you are adept at off trail travel, you can again skillfully "cut the corner" to hit the trail just below the split to Scepter Lake, then go to Scepter Lake (instead of toward Half Moon), then head NE for the saddle SE of Scepter Pass at elev 10160+. This is a much more efficient route than Scepter Pass itself. If you do this, it may be possible, depending on your pace to make Blackcap Basin at the end of the day 2. Halfmoon Lake, by the way, is not very interesting from a fishing standpoint (small brookies) in contrast to its neighbors to the SW and S. This brings up a possible option for a more leisurely day 2, which would be to aim for Crown Lake (from Indian Springs) leaving you almost an entire day to check out Crown and the other lakes in the vicinity (except Halfmoon).

When I visited Blackcap Basin in '07 I had a morning start on day 1 so I had a pretty long day 1 going from Rancheria to Woodchuck L. (conventional trail). On day 2 we went by Crown and Scepter, then over the pass I mentioned above and camped at Pearl Lake that evening. We had a layover day in the basin for day 3 (more below), then returned via the same pass, camped at Scepter and spent some time at Crown on day 4. On day 5 we went off trail from Chuck Pass through the saddle E of Duck Lake to Duck (some brush) and found Duck to have unimpressive small fish before heading to our vehicles at Rancheria.

As for the ideal base in Blackcap. I like Pearl (where we camped, also on the nice bench on the W side as Aaron did) because it is more centrally located in the basin than Cathedral or Portal that are set off on the SE margin of the basin. Division would also work well as a centrally located spot. Most of the lakes in Blackcap Basin are teeming with rainbows that reach medium sizes: On my '07 trip most of the lakes I fished topped out at 11". I did catch some slender rainbows from Pearl itself in the 12 to 13" range. I did not see any true lunkers in the basin. There are two small lakes in the basin that have goldens. I was surprised not to see anyone in the basin during the two days and change I spent there. It is a very pleasant place to wander around in, with relaxing, open views and mellow off trail hiking to get from one lake to another.
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: Blackcap Options

Postby tlsharb » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:57 am

Everyone,
Thanks for the input. The pics were excellent.....I'd really love to do this as a two week trip and explore the southern area (Blue, Tunemah, etc) as well. But not this time.

GiantBrookie. Your routes are very intriguing. If I'm charting them right on Hillmap, that would save around 6 miles on the way in to Blackcap. The guys I'm going with are all experienced hikers, but not so sure about their cross country abilities. Here in NH, even our trail are like a cross country adventure, so I'm pretty used to navigating terrain. If you go over the saddle SE of Sceptor pass, in looks like you can drop into an unamed lake ENE. Is that a place one could camp. If it was, it would influence how long we spent fishing at Crown and Sceptor Lakes. I don't think this crew would make it all the way from Indain Springs to Pearl, but if we camped on the NE side of the saddle that would put Pearl an easy 4-5 miles up the river.

Once again, thanks for all the input.

terry
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 27, 2016 4:04 pm

I went in from Courtright. It was 20 miles, 3765 feet gain with 2000 feet of that gain after Big Maxon Meadow, where your route wound intersect. Day 1 I drove from Sacramento and walked into BM 8029 (where Fleming Creek comes in) on first day (10 miles, 6 hours). That definitely was a long day! The trail, however, is quite good and you can make good time. Got to Pearl Lake early enough on Day 2 for a day-hike up to Cathedral Lake. Midway Lake is where I would camp if I ever went there again. I never really thought about coming in Rancheria Creek because I looped north to Red Mountain Basin. This was an 8-day trip. It may be a bit longer from Courtright, but I think it is less elevation gain, and all on a good trail.
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 27, 2016 4:54 pm

Really liked Midway, Pearl, and Chapel, but most of those lakes are nice, if the wind isn't blowing, then you get get some beautiful mirror reflections of the alpenglow in them. :nod:
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby Jimr » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:26 pm

I believe this was Chapel in 1989. One of my favorite shots.
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Re: Blackcap Options

Postby Snowtrout » Thu Apr 28, 2016 11:28 am

If this is a fishing trip, you really should hit Crown, spend a little time at Scepter and maybe find a way to the mis-identified marmot lake on your way in to or out of Blackcap. Crown has quality rainbows, brooks, a nice sandy beach and some nice camp spots on the north and east shores. Scepter is a shallow, marshy lake but there are some nice rainbows hiding in the rocks and weeds. Plus the walk up to Scepter pass didn't look too bad. The creek that follows up to Indian springs does have some nice little rainbows, that looked to me, to have some golden traits in them.

If you can do some off-trail hiking, take GB's advice. Chuck pass is a nice walk on the east side but the west side was like a steep, dried up creek gully.
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