Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16 | High Sierra Topix  

Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

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Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

Postby elbenanti » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:07 pm

We made it out for our first backpacking trip of the season this past weekend. Despite our attempt to heed fellow HST member's advice, our 8am arrival at the trailhead was not good enough to get one of the ~6 parking spaces. However, we did park right around the corner from the small dirt lot on Hwy 89 (there is a wide shoulder), and the volunteer docent at the trailhead said our car would be fine until Monday.

The relatively early time on the trail made for really pleasant hiking conditions - well-shaded trail that took us through forest that was brimming with wildflowers. Whole swaths of lupine and penstemon lined the trail and columbine was clustered around the small creeks we crossed. The tiger lilies looked like they will be in full bloom in the coming week (we didn't see any open yet).

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We also saw lots of snow plant springing up among the trees.

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The log bridge that others on the forum mentioned was still intact and made the first creek crossing easy.

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Crag Lake was stunning, and we had it to ourselves.

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Shadow Lake was also very pretty, with a very boggy (and a little buggy) meadow at the far end.

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After passing Stony Ridge Lake, we soon lost all of the wildflowers and encountered some (very) patchy snow on the climb up to Rubicon Lake. None was too difficult to sidestep. We picked out a great campsite a little way off of the north shore of the lake and enjoyed some decent fishing - especially for the middle of the afternoon. We caught a handful of ~8-10" brook trout. The lake was pretty active despite the sunny afternoon.

To see the most we could of the trail, we continued up towards Phipps Pass after lunch. The views of Grouse Lake and in the distance Cascade (or Fallen Leaf?) Lake were fantastic.

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There was one slightly nerve-wracking snow field on our ascent (see pictures below). It's a little hard to tell from the pictures, but the drop-off was pretty steep beneath the snow. Because of this, we decided to climb up and around the snow. This was a lot of extra effort but made us a lot more comfortable!

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We made an off-trail excursion to check out Phipps Lake. There was a lot of snow on the steep descent down to the lake but we were able to pick our way down. Following the inlet on our way out made the return trip much easier. We caught one large brook trout in Phipps (~13"), but really enjoyed some fantastic views and we had the lake all to ourselves.

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We were shocked to find on our return to Rubicon Lake that we had it all to ourselves! Not too bad for a busy trailhead on a Saturday night in June... After catching a handful more brook trout and eating dinner we retired to bed to a healthy chorus of frogs.

In the morning we enjoyed a peaceful few hours by the lake before heading back towards the trailhead.

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On our return trip, we took some time to throw in a line at Stony Ridge, Hidden and Crag Lakes. Somewhat surprisingly, these were all very quiet (though it was midday). Rubicon was clearly where we had the best luck on both days of our trip.

Thought we definitely encountered a handful of day hikers on each day (closer to the trailhead), we were pleasantly surprised at how quiet the trail was - especially past Crag Lake. We also were anticipating swarms of mosquitos and were happy that they weren't too bad. They were worse at lower elevations near the trailhead and worse in the shade compared to sunny spots, but surprisingly once we were up at Rubicon Lake we had only a small number of slow mosquitos. Instead, we encountered many more flies - some that actually were biting - but these too were not bad. I only used my head net when we were stopped fishing at the lower lakes on the second day.

Thanks again to all who relayed trail conditions last weekend. We appreciate the information!



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elbenanti
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Re: Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:54 am

Thank you for the wonderful TR and pictures, looks like you had a fun trip, including some solitude.
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: Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

Postby toolazytomove » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:56 pm

Thanks for the TR! The pics looks amazing. At what elevation did you hit the tricky snow patch?
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Re: Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:26 pm

Very nice trip and report. I remember you asking about this trip and it's great to see the trip was a success, including the fishing.
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: Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

Postby elbenanti » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:27 pm

I would estimate the steep snow patch was around 8600 feet. It was roughly half-way between Rubicon Lake (8400) and Phipps Pass (8800).
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Re: Meeks Bay TH to Rubicon Lake 6/25 - 6/26/16

Postby kclarevalentine » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:14 am

Thank you for this information! Planning a similar trip for next weekend, and I was really wondering about the Phipps Pass conditions. How were the stream crossings, if you don't mind me asking?
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