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TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

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TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:08 pm

TR: South Lake to Dusy Basin to Treasure Lakes 6/24-30

Day 1. S Lake TH to Long Lake plus day hike Chocolate Lakes; 3.5 miles, 1300 feet gain, 4 hours

At 6AM, the Caltrans road conditions showed Hwy 395 still closed. So I drove via Tioga Pass, much more scenic than the 70-mile detour through Nevada. I picked up a permit at Mammoth Lakes and drove directly to South Lake trailhead, not even stopping at Bishop. And yes, Hwy395 was still closed!

I was on the trail by 1:30 PM with many day-hikers passing me as I slogged up the trail with zero energy to camp at Long Lake. From 4:30 to 6:30 I day-hiked the Chocolate Lakes and was surprised at how beautiful these little lakes are and how everyone just passes by them. Two groups were camped at these lakes. Little fish were swimming in the lakes but I did not bring my fishing gear because I did not want to haul fish back. When I returned to my camp, I fished Long Lake with no luck; plenty of bites but no catches -I am still learning how to get fish with barbless hooks. I had a nice established campsite up on the northwest shore all to myself. There were few mosquitoes and a steady wind helped too. The day was hot and blue and the night unusually hot also.

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Long Lake north end

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Chocolate Lakes

Day 2. Long Lake to Dusy Lake at 11300 + fishing to upper lake; 7.1 miles, 1700 feet gain, 6.8 hours

I left camp at 8:30 AM. I did not sleep well; in fact I did not sleep well the entire trip. In January I slipped on mud while walking my dog and my right hip and thigh have not been the same since. Although no problem while hiking, I ache all night and do not sleep well. I either need better pain meds, sleeping pills, or perhaps just a plusher sleeping pad. Oh, well, getting old is a pain, literally.

The altitude was still slowing me down a bit. At Timberline Lake I followed the wrong path in the snow and ended up ascending the valley to the east before dropping down to the Bishop Lake snow course stakes. There were a few snow patches on the Bishop Pass trail. Only a short section of one switchback was a bit freaky. The big flat snowfield on top was no problem. Near the top, I ran into three women, doing Roper’s High Route. One woman had come to my house for information on the Wind Rivers and I had been e-mailing another for a few months. These women are high-powered thru- hikers and have done the CDT, AT, PCT and hikes all over the world. Only one had extensive off-trail experience; the other two were getting their first taste of off-trail travel. They were headed out to Bishop to resupply. We had a great visit! There were actually quite a few PCT hikers going out or in after resupplying in Bishop.

We parted ways and I dropped to the first unnamed lake, left the trail, and headed southeast to Lake 11388. I spent nearly a half hour looking for a perfect campsite. I decided that the next lower lake had more appealing campsites so I dropped down and found a fine site near the inlet on the southwest shore and was set-up by mid-afternoon. I then put together my fishing gear and walked to the upper lake (big lake in the Winchell, Thunderbolt, Isoscales cirque). I got photos but no fish! Back at my camp, I walked over to the inlet and caught two 8-inch trout to add to my dinner. It was another perfect day with blue-sky and a steady breeze. Sunset was spectacular. I stayed up until 8:30 sipping hot chocolate.

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Small Lake on way to Bishop Pass

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Camp at Dusy Lake at 11,250 (Lake below Lake 11,388)

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Looking south from camp



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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:19 pm

Day 3. Day hike Rainbow Lakes, move to Upper Dusy Lake + fishing; 6.6 miles, 1700 feet gain, 6.5 hours

After another warm and generally sleepless night, I decided to day-hike to Rainbow Lakes. This is another set of lovely lakes that few visit. I dropped to the Bishop Pass trail and had to wade across one small stream. As I passed Lake 10742 the mosquitoes were annoying. I realized I had to leave the trail and again wade across the main creek which was thankfully easy. I then found a cairned route over the shoulder and dropped directly into the lower Rainbow Lake. Again, I did not take fishing gear because getting fish back to my camp would be a problem. As I saw nice big fish swimming in the lower lake I regretted my decision. I should have brought my fishing gear and the stove and cooked lunch right there on the spot! The drainage is choked with brush. A fisherman’s trail went around the northeast shore of Lake 10838. Luckily I could easily cross the inlet and walk up low angle slabs to the second lake. The route to the third lake was a bit difficult with a talus field, snow and a very short section of class 3 scrambling. I did not see fish in the second lake but it looked like it would be good habitat. The upper lake is shallow and may freeze solid. After eating lunch and enjoying the upper lake, I took a different route back continuing up on rock ramps to cross the shoulder at about 11300 feet and then zig-zagged down to the string of lakes above Lake 10742. Luckily there was an easy wading (actually a rock crossing that was flooded) between two of these lakes. I then basically ascended on grassy cutes and rock slabs north of the creek from the lake where I was camped.

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Lake 10742

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View of Le Conte Canyon from inlet to the lower Rainbow Lake

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Upper Rainbow Lake

I took a bath, washed clothes and broke down camp. By the time I was ready to go, my clothes were dry! I then hiked to the large upper lake for a new stunningly scenic established campsite on small rock bench on the north end of the lake. It took me forever to set up the tent. This was my new tent and I should have brought more tent string as I could not get a stake into the ground. I was tired, but decided to fish the north inlet. I got lots of bites but no fish. At 6PM I decided to go the outlet to try and I hit pay dirt as I caught three 10-13 inch fish in less than 10 minutes. As much as catching these fish was fun, cooking them in my small pot was challenging. I had to cut them in half. It was a long but wonderful day. I went back to the outlet to photograph the long and colorful sunset. This evening there were clouds in the sky to add to the sunset ambiance. It was nearly 9PM before I went inside the tent. There was even a sprinkle of raindrops. The wind blew strongly all night and good thing I spent the time to really anchor the tent.

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Lake 11388 inlet on the way to the upper lake

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Camp at upper Dusy Basin Lake

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First tried fishing at the inlet

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Then fished the outlet

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Caught these fish

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Watched the sunset - reflection on a small pond near the lake

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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:24 pm

Day 4. Return to Saddle Rock Lake + fishing loop; 5.6 miles, 995 feet gain, 5.2 hours

I discovered that I goofed up with my camera. The setting dial had accidently moved to “low light” the day before when I pulled the camera out of the case. I have to admit that this was the third time I have done this. Yes, if I would read the display I would have figured it out earlier but without my bifocals I cannot see the display in sunlight. I hate digital touchscreens! They are a plot by 20-year olds to frustrate senior citizens! So I went back and spent time re-photographing at the lower lakes but alas, the lighting was not optimum. Then I headed back to the trail via the east side of the large lake near the trail. This route was definitely easier than my in-bound route. Clouds were building as I went over Bishop Pass. It was amazing how much the snow melted in two days. My planned campsite at the north end of Saddlerock Lake was occupied by a large family. There was another campsite nearby that I took. I low-profiled, took a short nap and did not fish this arm of the lake.

Instead, as the sky became overcast and a light rain started, I did a 1.6-mile loop to fish Bishop Lake to its outlet and then drop to the inlet to Saddlerock Lake. I am trying to embrace light rain; with the warm weather and so close to the trailhead, this would be a great practice of fishing in the rain. Carrying rain gear seems not to make sense if one never goes out in the rain! Out in the rain for two hours I only caught three smallish fish, two rainbows and one brookie. There were enough breaks in the rain and it was warm enough that my pants actually dried as I walked. When returning to camp, another family set up in a not so desirable spot along the use-trail. It was raining pretty hard as I cleaned the fish. My site had a nice dry spot under trees to cook dinner. I decided to fry the fish after dinner, but by that time I was ready to dive into my warm sleeping bag. So I buried my cleaned fish in a snowbank. It rained pretty hard until midnight.

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Back over Bishop Pass

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Flowers at Bishop Lake

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Saddlerock Lake
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:30 pm

Day 5. Saddlerock Lk to lower Treasure Lake + side trips to Ruwau Lake and upper Treasure Lake; 6.6 miles, 1570 feet gain, 5.5 hours.

I awoke at 6AM to a few sprinkles. Luckily it did not freeze at night so I could dig my fish out of the snowbank and cook them for breakfast. I had hoped to fish up at Ruwau Lake the previous afternoon. Now, not wanting to carry fish all day, I just hiked up to the lake and came back to the Bishop Pass Trail. At the trail junction to Treasure Lakes, it was certainly tempting to just go back to my car! As I turned towards Treasure Lakes the mosquitoes seemed to spring out of nowhere after the big rain. The creeks were roaring and I was happy that this very civilized trail had bridges. The heat and mosquitoes were annoying along the steep 670-foot gain to the lower lake. I set up camp quickly as thunderheads built and nearly ran up the next 500 feet on a very unique use-trail that goes right on the top of a ridge, to the upper lake. This lake is full of frogs, so I suspect it has been gill-netted. I did not bring fishing gear so it really did not matter. I am not sure the scenery up there is really worth the effort. Thunder was booming as I quickly descended to camp. Day hikers were by my site, so I ran to the nearby lake and took a bath and washed clothes, getting back to my tent just as the rain began. When the rain stopped I fished for about an hour and got five strikes but could not land the fish. I gave up and cooked dinner under big trees, which provided cover from rain, but also was an outpost for mosquitoes. I had to cover up with my rain parka and a head net. After dinner a couple came walking up with a dog and set up near the inlet. I tried once again to fish the marshy inlet to the unnamed lake to the east, only to get swarmed by mosquitoes. Enough of this; I went into my tent and listened to music.

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Back to meadow at inlet to Long Lake

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Side trip to Rawua Lake

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Pretty pond on trail to Treasure Lake

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Camp at Treasure Lake

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Treasure Lake

Day 6: walk out to South Lake trailhead and drive home; 2.5 miles, 265 feet gain, 1.5 hours. This was an uneventful quick walk out. Mosquitoes were thick at the trailhead. Looks like my timing was good; time to get out of the mountains. But I had to descend from Lake Tahoe into 104 degree head and smog of Sacramento. At least no mosquitoes and thank god for air conditioning!
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:28 pm

Image

Photo I forgot to put in. This is a view of the lake I camped at (11350) from Lake 11388 in Dusy Basin.
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby kpeter » Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:35 pm

Your reports are always special, WD. Great photographs and a nice write-up of a wonderful area.
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Cross Country » Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:31 pm

You always write good reads but this one is excellent even for you. I really enjoyed reading this. Daisy - have you ever been to Kid Lakes out of Kings Canyon. You can do a loop to Grouse to Kid to Glacier Lakes (do all of them) to Granit Basin. If you go, plan to fish a lot.
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:18 pm

Terrific report. I am surprised that the uppermost Dusy Basin lakes were thawed. I remember visiting them in 1993 in late July and finding that they had just barely thawed out. 1993 was a heavier winter than 2016, though. Especially nice touch to have journeyed over to the Rainbow Lakes which is a comparatively neglected drainage.
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: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:21 am

Have you fished the Rainbow Lakes? There seemed to be marked routes to the drainage and quite a distinct trail around the lower lake. I think Mt Guiard is on the SPS peak list, so some of the apparant useage may be due to that climb, not particularly fishing. I saw fish in the lower lake; curious of there are fish in the upper two lakes.
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:23 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Have you fished the Rainbow Lakes? There seemed to be marked routes to the drainage and quite a distinct trail around the lower lake. I think Mt Guiard is on the SPS peak list, so some of the apparant useage may be due to that climb, not particularly fishing. I saw fish in the lower lake; curious of there are fish in the upper two lakes.

I've never fished Rainbow Lakes but I've always been curious about them. I still have a lot of places I'd like to visit for the first time in the High Sierra. I think you are right about Giraud's SPS status as being the primary source of use.
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: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jul 04, 2016 3:39 pm

One reason that area is so scenic is because of the colorful metamorphic rock about Chocolate Peak. The minerals are also apparently beneficial for many wildflower species that by mid July become abundant. On the other hand Dusy Basin that has granite geology has only modest flowers during its summer peak in early August.

For your sleep issues you might try and design with double thick foam, a short pad with a cut out where your hip would lie. Find a place that carries foam sheets for repairing furniture. A place near me that has tons of interesting stuff:

http://www.bobsfoam.com/directions.php

Good siting location in Dusy first night, well done. Always an issue anywhere in Dusy Basin because it is so treeless and open, is privacy. Most visitors on their way to Knapsack Pass travel on the other, east side, of that lake. That west side further back from the peaks also allows better views. Nice morning perspective for this early time of summer of your Lake 10742 image that looks very nice with the snow. Nicely accomplished fishing at 11393, well done.

I dislike digital touch screens on cameras too for just that reason. More expensive digital cameras in this era like my A6000 may have electronic viewfinders that in bright outdoor light are far easier to deal with the many menu settings. Although mine has a big LCD display that most people tend to use, I've covered it with black Gorilla duct tape because it tends to be distracting due to reflections while looking into the viewfinder eyepiece even if the LCD is turned off.

Your pink flowers at Bishop Lake are alpine laurel, kalmia polifolia. I first visited Dusy Basin in 1981 when I also climbed Agassiz. In 1986 climbed Columbine and since have had a notion for sleeping atop the summit that consists of enormous talus blocks. For photographers, the best late light on the Palisade peaks occurs late August into early September as the sun becomes less blocked by peak 12668 while not yet being blocked to the west by Black Giant. An added bonus at that time of year is mosquitoes are long gone while during most years there are still areas of snow about shady areas. My last visit to Dusy was in 2003 but have been thwarted returning since. One of the best locations in the Sierra to base camp at several days with much possible of interest.
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Re: TR: Dusy Basin 6/24-30

Postby bbayley80 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:54 pm

lovely trip report as always!
loved to hear of somebody else scoring at the uppermost Dusy Lake.
my buddy and i spent a few nights there last year and had so much fun fishing-and fortunately catching ;)- a few big beauties from the rock peninsula on the southern shore. so awesome how it drops into deep dark water..

thanks too for calling attention to the other lakes in the area-as you mention that most people(myself included) blow right by.

i'll make a point to return to the region to further explore and enjoy.
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