Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4-(linked to photos) | High Sierra Topix  

Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4-(linked to photos)

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4-(linked to photos)

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:20 pm

The long dreamed of Tunemah-Tehipite loop was nixed because of a fire burning in Tehipite. Being informed of the Tehipite closure while picking up the wilderness permit, I quickly audibled to a trip that would spend a higher proportion of time in trailless country: over 90 percent of the hiking would be off trail. My hiking partner on this one was my longtime death march buddy, Todd Ramsden of Chico. Special thanks goes out to SSSDave, who posted on the Hoffman Mtn. roadhead earlier this year (and also wrote of it last year). The original plan omitted that road end for Rancheria because this made it more convenient on the exit, but with Tehipite out of the picture we were able to exploit this fine kick off point. Here's a "short version" report: photos can be found at: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/565151754JxRahC expect some revisions to this photo album in the near future. My battery died before Woodchuck, so I'm getting some photos from Todd (will include some much better ones of the basin east of Tunemah).

July 31. We trudged out of the Hoffman Mtn. roadend, hopping over deadfalls, doing some sidehilling and climbing over several ridges before dropping down on the Chuck Pass trail, which we consented to follow for about a mile to the pass. At the pass we diverged northward from the trail and intersected Crown Creek just below the Crown-Scepter Lake trail split before taking off toward Crown Basin over a seemingly endless series of wooded saddles. Given that we are certified "Old School" we named this long traverse the "Humpty Dance". Only at the last Humpty did we round into granite slab country that said "Welcome to the High Sierra". In spite of my ambitious pronouncements of making Blue Canyon in one day, we ended up camping in Crown Basin (about 1.5 hrs short of the destination), betrayed by somewhat inadequate conditioning. The lowest Crown Basin lake, perched up on a little shelf above the axis of the valley, and listed in Cutter as having goldens, proved to be fishless.

August 1. With the low country stuff out of the way, the true High Country trip began. We ascended past Hummingbird Lake, whose surface was dimpled with innumerable rises of small brookies. Foregoing these, we continued over the pass into upper Blue Canyon where we dropped the packs at Lake 10320+ (W of L10364) and put on daysacks to climb Finger Peak. Blue Canyon brought back many fond memories of my previous (and only) visit here with my wife in early July of 1994 on an epic off trail trip we called "Ring Around the Goddard". The wildflowers, while nice, were not on a par with the 1994 experience, when they approached the Carson Pass standard. Finger Peak had been in my peak bagging cross hairs since the 80's (OK, I'm not a totally retired peak bagger as I sometimes claim). We climbed Finger by the class 2 SE slope. The climb starts with easy slabs, then one avoids scree by sticking to bedrock and talus ribs, before coming to the climactic final 100 feet of climbing. Here the climb becomes an intricate series of big ledges. With extreme care, which we didn't bother with on the ascent, one can keep this part all class 2. Lacking patience, we threw in a few easy class 3 moves and arrived at the sensational summit block which is a genuine class 3 and helps the peak live up to its name.
Image
Finger Peak's summit block.

Few climb this summit. We were only the second party to climb this peak this year (the first one was in late June). In spite of the Tehipite fire, we had great clear air and sightlines. To the south the Whitney Group, Great Western Divide (Brewer-Milestone AND the southern stuff with Sawtooth et al.), and the Kaweahs were clear as bell. Northward, the Ritter Range stood out with unusual clarity. After the summit photos and sign ins we exploited the scree we took such pains to avoid and sprinted down to Blue Canyon. Here I put two folding grills in my daypack and the fishing gear and headed to the lower ponds (9520+ and 9680+) of which I had heard reports of 20 inch rainbow footballs. These reports had reached my ears after the 1994 trip with my wife bringing us some degree of regret; they were the only lakes in the basin we didn't inspect then. The upper one is apparently fishless now (abundant tadpoles and aquatic insects) and the rainbows have spawned too well in the lower one, reducing the legendary size, I'd guess. These voracious, chunky, fish hit on 80 percent of my casts and ran 11 to 13 inches. I kept four of them and we had an early evening BBQ before heading back to our packs which were moved to higher ground to set up camp.

August 2. I can't think of a better way of celebrating a birthday (49). OK, I can. If my wife was with me on this trip, as she was on all of my best trips from 1988-2000 (won't leave the kids with anyone to do one of these). We donned our daypacks again and headed over gap 11046 into the Alpine Creek drainage, then through the low saddle to big, sapphire blue Tunemah Lake. The lake looks lifeless, but I knew better thanks to a thread on this board earlier this year. On cast no. 8, I hooked a fish which I later (see below) estimated to be in the 18-20 inch range; this fish quickly unhooked itself. The entire time at the lake, I saw no rises and saw but one fish and had one other strike. Ten uneventful casts after losing the big one, a huge rainbow cruiser chugged slowly by in front of me in about 2 feet of water. I had just changed lures and I stared motionless, for I couldn't very well cast to a fish 6 feet in front of me. After it had moved to about 30 feet away, I cast to a point some 50 feet in front of it. The singing cast spooked the fish and it took off into the depths. Apparently, it soon recovered its bravery, for after a few seconds of retrieving, it ripped into my lure. This 19-inch hook-jawed rainbow was consumed for brunch with olive oil and teriyaki sauce; we had hiked over with our stove and cooking pot.
Image
19" rainbow from Tunemah L.

Not wanting to injure anymore of the apparently sparse population in the lake, I quit fishing after a total of some 25 casts. We then hiked downstream into one of the nicest alpine paradises I've ever visited. This wondrous basin has incredibly wild eastern views to Goddard Creek canyon, Enchanted Gorge and the Black Divide. The immediate surroundings are both rugged and intimate.

Image
Basin east of Tunemah Lake viewed from the Tunemah outlet.

All of the lakes are teeming with rainbows that run to about 13 inches. After blissful wandering and releasing many fish, we reluctantly left, given we wanted to get back to our camp in time to move it to Hummingbird Lake. I must return this place someday, hopefully with my wife and kids. At Hummingbird, I "verified" the stunted nature of the brookies therein. In three casts, I released 3 skinny 8 inch brookies.

August 3. Descending to Crown Basin we then made a very nice ridge climb on slabs before dropping down on Maxson Basin and traversing to Maxson Lake. In the old DFG Angler's Guide it says "brook trout in good condition. Occasional air plants of fingerlings required to sustain" "Good condition" was an old code term for BIG. The assessment of spawning potential, however, was sadly short. The lake is now overpopulated with small brookies. After releasing three 8-9" fish in 5 casts I decided not to delay our hike to the Center of the Fishing Universe. We had a little snack of rosemary and olive oil Triscuits and pepper jack and headed over the next ridge, made a descending traverse over shoulder and arrived at Scepter Lake. This lake, which surrendered loads of 12-15 inch rainbows to me last year was bypassed, which should tell you something. I fished from 2-3 pm at Crown Lake and encountered the usual: I caught 3 brookies of 12, 13, 18 inches and 2 rainbows of 12 and 15 inches. The 18-incher was kept for an afternoon BBQ.
Image
18"brookie from Crown L.

After finishing eating we packed up and headed for Woodchuck Lake, leaving Crown at about 4 pm. We followed very little of the annoyingly inefficient trail (those who've hiked in this area know what I mean) and arrived at the lake at about 530 pm. After pitching camp, I decided to see which lake was really the star of Woochuck Country. The jury is still out. After a few casts I hooked into a fish that was clearly stronger than the 18-incher at Crown. A long ocean fish style battle brought the behemoth into the shallows. It was a brookie that was 20 inches or perhaps a bit more. Unfortunately, it somehow flopped off the hook just as I prepared to beach it. No matter, I eventually caught 4 more fat brookies, all in the 16-17 inch class. Another fellow at the lake, patriarch (3 generations of guys) of the ONLY group of folks we met on the entire trip caught a 10 inch golden, verifying their presence that I had been so dubious about--I suppose DFG air drops golden fingerlings, most of which end up as vitamin supplements for the giant brookies. The evening was very clear, for we could see clearly see the lights of Fresno from our camp (ie individual lights, not just a dull glow).

August 4. We started hiking with more off trail fun, scrambling down to Marsh Lake. The fish residents in this lake were apparently not yet awake. I had one strike and a 15-inch trailer (probably a rainbow); a 15-inch fish didn't look so impressive anymore. Chimney Lake's fish population appeared more numerous and lively and I ended the fishing portion of the trip by releasing a half dozen rainbows running to about 13 inches. Leaving the lake, we begrudgingly followed the trail for less than mile ("backwards", actually, which tells you something about the trails here) then took off for 100 percent off trail hiking to close out the trip in high style. This is the best trip of 5 days or less I've ever done. I will have a hard (but entertaining) time trying to equal or top this.
Last edited by giantbrookie on Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:25 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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



User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:04 pm

Thanks GB for the TR.
I was planning to go to this area earlier but because of the fires/smoke I decided to delay.
Darn, now a 165 acre fire starts in Tehipite Valley!
I am hoping this was the first and hopefully the last fire inside the SEKI.
I have seen TR's of the meadows and read the post earlier in the year that you referred to
which made me want to visit the lakes east and northeast of Tunemah Lake even more.
I was planning to enter Blue Canyon by jumping over Coyote Pass and coming out
Valor then down thru Blackcap-Crown Basin-Rancheria as a 6 day trip.
It may be time to look for another area if the fire is not under control within a week.
With my luck this year there will probably be a fire at Kern Point a week before I plan
to go out.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:12 pm

Great trip report! Too bad about Tehipite, but it sounds like a great trip regardless. That valley east of Tunemah Lake is on my wish list...

I led a trip through Blue Canyon in 2002, and we got into an area, maybe 1,000 acres, that had been very recently burned. All ash underfoot. Then we passed a stump that was still burning, which was thoroughly surreal. There was no danger or anything--I was being extremely cautious, and working out bail scenarios if necessary--but it was a very weird experience.
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:35 pm

Great report GB. How about some pics.

You're one of a few here I knew could easily make use of the efficient Hoffman route. Enough deep woods orienting one ought not be an amateur. High Sierra trout fishing in these modern times doesn't get any better than you've describe here. Catching that many fish of those sizes sets the modern mark. I'd like to see a pic of that 20 inch brookie. I also have penciled out a route from Chuck Pass to Crown Basin across those drainages in order to reach Blue Canyon. And had a particular photographic interest in the possible views from the unnamed lakes below Tunamah. So now I need to add my fishing rod? I'm going to pass your post onto one of my fishing bro's who has also been to Crown Lake.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:57 pm

SSSdave wrote:Great report GB. How about some pics.

You're one of a few here I knew could easily make use of the efficient Hoffman route. Enough deep woods orienting one ought not be an amateur. High Sierra trout fishing in these modern times doesn't get any better than you've describe here. Catching that many fish of those sizes sets the modern mark. I'd like to see a pic of that 20 inch brookie. I also have penciled out a route from Chuck Pass to Crown Basin across those drainages in order to reach Blue Canyon. And had a particular photographic interest in the possible views from the unnamed lakes below Tunamah. So now I need to add my fishing rod? I'm going to pass your post onto one of my fishing bro's who has also been to Crown Lake.


Thanks again for reminding me of that roadhead. I normally don't require advance reports to stride off into the woods, but the advantage offered by Hoffman Mtn over Rancheria was small enough on paper that it helped to have your description (in order to verify that this indeed saved time over the longer trail route).

I'll try to get around to posting some photos before the semester starts here. Nobody took a photo of that giant brookie before it flopped off my hook, even though two folks watched the high drama as it took place. It is one of the two biggest brookies I've ever had on the end of my line. The 19 inch rainbow and 18 inch brookie were duly photographed before they were consumed. As for your photographic interests, the basin below Tunemah will reward you bigtime. When I get them posted, I can tell you that my photos won't come close to doing that basin justice.
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby cgundersen » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:00 pm

Hi GB,
I just logged a response to your comments on a thread I started, but I wanted to add here that your report may force me to reconsider the timing of a Blue canyon trip. It sounds even more incredible than I imagined. I'm guessing that Maverick will be the first to throw caution to the wind and just go for it............either way, and even if the photos do not do justice, I'm hooked!
Cheers!
CG
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby windknot » Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:15 pm

Amazing report GB and happy belated birthday! Woodchuck Country sounds incredible, count me in as looking forward to pictures as well. Thanks for a terrific read!

Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
User avatar
windknot
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1348
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:07 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby Packtofish » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:28 pm

Great report. I've been hypothesizing about that area for awhile now. Good to have some firsthand info out of the area.

Off topic but, I just got back from a four day death march up through the Sphinx Lake basin, down to Big Brewer, summit of Mt. Brewer and back out. Good fishing in all the lakes but nothing of size worth mentioning. Didn't have the energy to go to South Guard Lake but it looked nice from the summit. Oh, and I didn't encounter a soul once we got out of the canyon......awesome. :thumbsup:

Dave
User avatar
Packtofish
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2006 4:44 pm
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby windknot » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:00 am

I don't want to hijack GB's great thread but thanks for the very timely report on the Sphinx basin, Dave. I was planning on a 4-day trip exploring the Sphinxes and Big Brewer for mid-September, and now I'm wavering between that and a Woodchuck Country trip. I still want to do both, it's just a question of which one I'd rather do this year and which one I'll have to put off until next. A nice dilemma to have, to be sure.

Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
User avatar
windknot
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1348
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:07 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby Buck Forester » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:28 am

Whoa! EL FANTASTICO trip reporto! You hit on an area I've long been wanting to visit... both Tunemah Lake and those lakes downstream/east of the lake. I am so freakin' eager to see your pics of 'paradise' (even if you say they don't do it justice), plus I'm eager to see your big fish pics. Did you get a pic of your 19"er from Tunemah? I GOTTA GET OUT AGAIN, I'M GOING CRAZY! Ha! I beg of you, on my knees, pleading, tears streaming down my face, to get those pics up asap!
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/
User avatar
Buck Forester
Founding Member
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:38 pm
Location: Lincoln, CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:08 am

windknot wrote:I don't want to hijack GB's great thread but thanks for the very timely report on the Sphinx basin, Dave. I was planning on a 4-day trip exploring the Sphinxes and Big Brewer for mid-September, and now I'm wavering between that and a Woodchuck Country trip. I still want to do both, it's just a question of which one I'd rather do this year and which one I'll have to put off until next. A nice dilemma to have, to be sure.

Matt


The Sphinxes and Big Brewer certainly don't have as big fish as Woodchuck (bigger Sphinxes and Big Brewer have rainbows that top out near 15" with decent numbers in the 12" range) and are quite a bit harder to reach (big elevation gain coming out of Road's End), but they are a much more ruggedly alpine area than Woodchuck Country which is your basic subdued west slope type setting. If scenery is the main focus, I'd pick the Sphinx area, whereas if lunkers are the target, then Woodchuck is the way to go.
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Tunepite becomes Tunechuck 7/31-8/4-(linked to photos)

Postby hikerduane » Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:24 pm

Thanks for the report. I'm slowly exploring the southern Sierra.

Get some pics up please of those fish!
Piece of cake.
User avatar
hikerduane
Founding Member
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 9:58 am
Location: Meadow Valley, CA, Carson City, NV
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], sekihiker and 8 guests