TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

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Asolthane
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TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by Asolthane » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:17 pm

Map: https://caltopo.com/m/Q01R
5163.jpeg
I got a permit at Lone Pine at 4pm on Friday afternoon, I thought I might have to wait another day.

No snow in Horseshoe Meadows. I caught 4 trout in the creek there in about 15 minutes. I slept in the backpacker campground and headed for Cottonwood Pass the next morning. Just a bit of snow at the saddle, no problem.

Lower Miter basin had melted enough that there were plenty of campsites.
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Sky Blue lake still had snow all around and was about 1/2 frozen over.
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Note the location of my campsite on night 2 on the map, an awesome spot at the West end of a meadow, North of the trail.
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Rock creek was hard to fish with fast flow, lots of brush, and very small fish.

I went off trail and up Forgotten Canyon, which had some really nice little meadows along the way. The stream had already dried to a trickle, I would recommend doing this early season or filling up at Rock Creek to be safe. The lakes at the top were beautiful, the pass over to Funston Lake was easy, with just a bit of snow left at the saddle.

Lots of smoke that day so no photos. Funston basin had just melted, so everyhting was still brown. I skipped the lake and climbed up to Boreal Plateau, which was really cool. Could see peaks just South of Whitney, and could see across the Kern Divide and an incredible view of Mt. Kaweah. That sucker looks big!

I walked along the top of the plateau and dropped down a very steep drainage into Rocky Basin Lakes. I didn't see any fish in any of those lakes, which was a bummer, I figured they would have Golden's in them.

I followed golden trout creek south. It was too small to fish really, and then that far north the S.Fork of the Kern is still a trickle. So much for detouring south for fishing!

Last campsite with sunset lighting up smoke rising from a forest fire
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Back out to Horseshoe meadows over Trail Pass (easy) where I helped a couple through hikers get to Mammoth.

I also did some running in the cool rock formations just off Whitney Portal Road, as a rainstorm rolled onto Whitney:
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Good trip. The southern tip of Sierra is really neat, and seems to melt earlier \:D/
I might have gone down to the Kern if it had been a few weeks later and the flows had calmed down more.
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maverick
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Re: TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by maverick » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:12 pm

Thanks for the TR and nice photos, very informative! :thumbsup:
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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Re: TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by morganrd13 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:24 am

"I followed golden trout creek south. It was too small to fish really, and then that far north the S.Fork of the Kern is still a trickle. So much for detouring south for fishing!"

Hmm. So these two creeks in that southern route aren't fishable? I was thinking of doing a circuit over Cottonwood Pass into Big Whitney Meadow, the down the Golden Trout and back up the South Fork to Trail Pass, with the intention of fishing all those little creeks. But if they were merely trickles this early in the season, it sounds like it would be a bust (fishing-wise) near the end of July. I'd still like to see the meadows and enjoy the wilderness, but I also want to have realistic expectations.

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Asolthane
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Re: TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by Asolthane » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:13 pm

morganrd13 wrote:"I followed golden trout creek south. It was too small to fish really, and then that far north the S.Fork of the Kern is still a trickle. So much for detouring south for fishing!"

Hmm. So these two creeks in that southern route aren't fishable? I was thinking of doing a circuit over Cottonwood Pass into Big Whitney Meadow, the down the Golden Trout and back up the South Fork to Trail Pass, with the intention of fishing all those little creeks. But if they were merely trickles this early in the season, it sounds like it would be a bust (fishing-wise) near the end of July. I'd still like to see the meadows and enjoy the wilderness, but I also want to have realistic expectations.
That was what I thought too, but it didn't work out that way for me. The creek at Horseshoe meadows was fun fishing, I'm not sure when that begins to dry out. I didn't get to Big Whitney, it's possible the fishing would be good there. The section of Golden Trout creek I was walking along did have some holes with fish in them, but they were all very small, and there was lots of brush so it made for lots of lost flies very quickly. S. Fork of the Kern is a trickle through Tunnel meadows, I am not sure how far south I would have needed to follow it until it opened up enough to fish. Let me know if you figure out where the good headwaters fishing is in the Golden Trout wilderness. It might be better from one of the areas you need a HOV to access.

If I could do it over, I would have gone SW instead of SE from Rocky Basin lakes toward Salt Lick and Little Whitney Meadow. That would have dropped me onto Golden Trout creek much lower. I could have checked out the lava flow and potentially fished that creek all the way down to the Kern.

Maybe someone knows when S. Fork Kern opens up for fishing. Ramshaw Meadows? Templeton Meadows? Strawberry meadows? Must be pretty big by Monache meadows. let me know if you ever want to plan a trip to go investigate this.

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Re: TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by richlong8 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:22 am

Asolthane wrote:
morganrd13 wrote:"I followed golden trout creek south. It was too small to fish really, and then that far north the S.Fork of the Kern is still a trickle. So much for detouring south for fishing!"

Hmm. So these two creeks in that southern route aren't fishable? I was thinking of doing a circuit over Cottonwood Pass into Big Whitney Meadow, the down the Golden Trout and back up the South Fork to Trail Pass, with the intention of fishing all those little creeks. But if they were merely trickles this early in the season, it sounds like it would be a bust (fishing-wise) near the end of July. I'd still like to see the meadows and enjoy the wilderness, but I also want to have realistic expectations.
That was what I thought too, but it didn't work out that way for me. The creek at Horseshoe meadows was fun fishing, I'm not sure when that begins to dry out. I didn't get to Big Whitney, it's possible the fishing would be good there. The section of Golden Trout creek I was walking along did have some holes with fish in them, but they were all very small, and there was lots of brush so it made for lots of lost flies very quickly. S. Fork of the Kern is a trickle through Tunnel meadows, I am not sure how far south I would have needed to follow it until it opened up enough to fish. Let me know if you figure out where the good headwaters fishing is in the Golden Trout wilderness. It might be better from one of the areas you need a HOV to access.

If I could do it over, I would have gone SW instead of SE from Rocky Basin lakes toward Salt Lick and Little Whitney Meadow. That would have dropped me onto Golden Trout creek much lower. I could have checked out the lava flow and potentially fished that creek all the way down to the Kern.

Maybe someone knows when S. Fork Kern opens up for fishing. Ramshaw Meadows? Templeton Meadows? Strawberry meadows? Must be pretty big by Monache meadows. let me know if you ever want to plan a trip to go investigate this.
I know this is an old post, but I thought I would mention that the South Fork of the Kern gets better when you get downstream of Templeton heading towards Strawberry Meadows. There is a nice hole at the confluence of Mulkey Creek and the south fork, and once you get to the trail ford of the south fork near Strawberry, the the stream and the fish get a somewhat bigger. Golden Trout fish get bigger the further downstream of Tunnel Meadow you go. There may be pools in off trail areas that hold larger fish in these streams,you never know.

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Asolthane
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Re: TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by Asolthane » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:06 pm

[/quote] I know this is an old post, but I thought I would mention that the South Fork of the Kern gets better when you get downstream of Templeton heading towards Strawberry Meadows. There is a nice hole at the confluence of Mulkey Creek and the south fork, and once you get to the trail ford of the south fork near Strawberry, the the stream and the fish get a somewhat bigger. Golden Trout fish get bigger the further downstream of Tunnel Meadow you go. There may be pools in off trail areas that hold larger fish in these streams,you never know.[/quote]

Thanks for the contribution. No thread is too old to add information to.

Looks like there is a LOT of river to fish in there then, both the S. Fork and the main fork, through Golden Trout Wilderness. Do you still access from Horseshoe Meadows to the north or is there a close approach?

If you were to design a fishing trip to this area, how would you approach, and what time of year would you go?

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Re: TR: Cottonwood Pass - Trail Pass 7/1 - 7/5

Post by Solace-seeker » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:17 pm

Nice trip report. Excellent photographs!

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