Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by TehipiteTom » Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:47 am

I don't have any current info, but I went up the Fall Creek cutoff 25 years ago and remember it as a great route. There was a use trail back then, and where it petered out it was mostly easy slabs.
Sorry, you lost me on that last comment, SSSDave.
I think he's referring to a cross-country shortcut that has been discussed here a few times over the years, which starts up the road from Rancheria trailhead on the slopes of Hoffman Mtn. Don't recall the exact route, but if you search you should be able to find some trip reports.








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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:06 pm

Thanks for all the great information!

This is my catch from Horsehead in 2013. Not big buy very easy to catch.
Small_12_5759_HorsheadL_fish.jpg
The F&W map does not show fish in most of the lakes up by Pearl and Cathedral. I half-remember catching fish in Pearl many years ago, but could be wrong. Am also curious about Hummingbird Lake. Last trip I saw HUGE fish in Flemming, but could not catch them. Then I read somewhere that they had just air dropped fish in there.

Anyone recently been on the Hell-for-Sure trail down to Goddard; is it in fair shape?
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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by Jimr » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:19 pm

In 1989 I fished Chapel Lk. and it was cranking on golden/rainbow hybrids. Fairly thick fish averaging around 12". That was the trip I hit all three forks of the Kings river that included Goddard creek to the middle fork. I've wanted to go back there for years.
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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:26 pm

A few notes that may help in planning. Barretts have had their fish removed, I believe. Wanda is an easy pass and depending on the specific route you wish to do it gives you another alternative trajectory. The south side looks cliffy when viewed from the south, but there are very wide class 2 benches that break up this cliff and one can zig zag their way up or down this depending on direction (I crossed N to S). The north side of the pass is trivial in comparison. Regarding the Hoffman Mtn kickoff (nr the Rancheria trailhead out of Wishon), this would be considered only for a west side entry that adds Tunemah to the mix, because the shortest and easiest route to Blue Canyon (and hence Tunemah) is from there. I like your east-entry route better to keep with the high altitude vs mid altitude sort of country. The advantages to the west-entry route are Tunemah and the option to include the fishing wonders of Woodchuck Country (4 lakes with big fish) on either the entry or exit or both (if looping or lolliopping). Hoffman Mtn also makes a Blackap-Ionian and vicinity trip easy too given that it is most efficient kickoff for Blackcap Basin, too. The disadvantages of the west entry are leaving out the eastern objectives of your planned route and I'd say those disadvantages outweigh the advantages of the west-side entry compared to your planned route over Lamarck Col.
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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by wildhiker » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:01 pm

Based on posts here by SSSDave and others, I was going to use the Hoffman Mtn cross-country route last August 2018 on my backpack into Blackcap Basin, mostly to save some elevation gain versus the standard Rancheria Creek trailhead. But there was a large tree that had fallen most of the way down across the road about halfway between Rancheria Creek TH and the Hoffman Mtn road switchback where the road is blocked and the cross-country route begins. There was room to drive my Subaru under the tree, but if it finished its descent while I was parked up higher, I would be stuck. So I bailed and used Rancheria Creek trailhead after all. Starting on Hoffman Mtn is shorter and less elevation gain than the trail, but I'm not sure it would be faster since it is cross-country through forest.

It took me two full days each way from Rancheria Creek TH to/from Blackcap Basin, camping at Halfmoon Lake or vicinity on the way. This route is mostly forested. Once beyond the main trail up Rancheria Creek, the other trails were very faint with numerous deadfalls until I hit the North Fork Kings River and connected up with the trail from Courtright Reservoir. Looked like the trails hadn't been cleared in decades. I lost the trail several times but always managed to find it again - still, it slowed me down to pay so much attention to the trail. The other folks I met on this trip (about a dozen in all) all came from Courtright Reservoir, which seems to be the maintained and faster trail to Blackcap Basin. On the other hand, I had complete solitude on the trails from Rancheria Creek TH.

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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by AlmostThere » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:30 am

I caught some nice fish in Pearl last year. Also in Portal.

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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:14 pm

Thanks all. GB- I agree with you that a route between North and South Lakes would pack in more scenic country with equally good fishing. As much as I would love to re-visit Tunemah and Blackcap Basin, it makes more sense to save that for a separate trip so I could spend more time in both Blue Canyon and Tunemah. If weather holds in the fall I can do that this year too!

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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by sekihiker » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:26 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:01 am
Also, if you are to drop down from McGuire Lake, the 7.5 minute topo shows the trail bending back to the se end of Big Maxon Meadow. Another map shows a trail that cuts down directly. Does that old trail still exist? If not, on Google Earth it at least looks feasible to x-c. Are there fish in the NF Kings downstream of the Meadow Brook cabin? Fish and Wildlife map show no fish in Schoolmarm, Holster and surrounding lakes. Is that accurate? Another basin north, are there fish in Horseshoe Lake? or Devil's Punchbowl?
I climbed up the creek to McGuire Lake 25 or so years ago and I don't remember much of a trail then. As a cross country route it was not bad (except it was pretty steep).
I caught fish in Holster and nearby lakes, again more than 25 years ago. I think they were small, healthy rainbows.

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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by robertseeburger » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:16 pm

I did a hike over Reinstein Pass and Finger Col in 2015, and then went to Tunemah in 2018 ( last June), so I know a little bit here. Definitely one of my favorite areas and I too am plotting a return shortly.

It isn't very often that you can write something useful for WD but I will try!

I became an honorary member of the Hoffman trailhead club last June. I can attest that it is a great way to start, getting almost 1000 feet of elevation gain vs. Rancheria. I made it to Woodchuck Lake on the first day and I wouldn't have otherwise. When I went, the dirt road was in quite good condition and any car could make it. As others say, this is a good approach to Tunemah or Blackcap.

On getting to Tunemah Lake.. I think I mentioned this in the post I did, but I said something to the effect that "you have to really decide you want to get there". I had two prior trips including the 2015 trip, where I had the intent of getting there but ran out of time. I finally centered my trip around getting there and made it last year. There is so much to see.. I think may be best to do a separate trip.

On going north from Tunemah, I was in June and did not trust the pass just north due to expected snow conditions. I also looked at the route of just going over the ridgeline directly to Blue Canyon and I thought this would be doable. I climbed high above Tunemah without difficulty. I think this would work. I also looked at the route from Finger Peak and it looked relatively easy.

Sounds to me like you have already been there, but I would put in a plug for the lakes on the West fork of Goddard Creek , under Finger Peak and Finger Col. I camped there, by myself. I found it to be a magical place. The sunset lit up Finger Peak. It felt very isolated and beautiful. I remember I wrote it up in a post about the most isolated places in the Sierra. It probably isn't...but it felt like it to me.

On lake 10232.. I walked by..and in trip planning I definitely want to return and camp there. I saw fish in the lake ( small) when I walked by. It is also just a special isolated lake. And it is cool just watching the 2 cascades come into the lake from Ionian Basin.

On fishing.. I did a quickie tour of blackcap basin in 2015. 8 lakes in one day. So not enough to be credible..but enough to have an impression.
Others have successfully fished Chapel and I saw nothing there in my 20 minutes. Good fishing in Cathedral. Good fishing in Pearl but small. I remember I think it was GB said try the west shallow end for bigger fish, which I didn't try.

I am currently thinking of doing a similar 2 week itinerary to return, although as usual, you are doing more than I would try. I think I would do Lamarack loop trip rather than extending to Ladder Lake/Palisades. My thinking is September. With the amount of snow we are getting,, I am not sure we will have much in early season.

Sounds like a great trip!

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Re: Trip Advise: Ionian Basin

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:06 pm

Robert-thanks. Your information WAS very helpful. Right now I am going to just leave decisions for later and see how the snow pack ends up this spring. Definitely am doing Ionian.

Tunemah is starting to look like a separate trip. I actually did spend 2 nights there on my previous trip, enough time to see the lower lakes and look for a route down to Goddard Creek (I went down about 800 feet) and hike up the ridge to the north. But I did not spend any time fishing and just walked past the lakes in upper Blue Canyon Creek. Also with Midway-Cathedral-Chapel Lakes- quick day-hike to see them but did not stay or fish. Want to do that too. It looks like a trip limited to Tunemah, Blue Canyon and Blackcap Basin would be ideal.

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