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Couples Trip to the Hilton

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Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby rayfound » Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:47 pm

By some miracle of the Sierra, I was able to get my wife to put on a backpack and hike the sierra high country with me for 3 days/2 nights. I’m aware that this was only possible because two of her closest friends had started the discussion of a “couples” backpacking trip, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. Any night in the Sierra is a good night.
Now my wife is not exactly the outdoorsy type… she likes hot showers, hates bugs, isn’t real fond of birds, and is completely uninterested in fishing. That said, she does like hiking well enough, and you can’t help but enjoy the sierra scenery.
So, I submitted a permit request for our 2 night adventure with 5 choices, and they were able to squeeze in our 4th choice: Hilton Lakes (Just like Gary C.)
We took off from the trailhead at Rock Creek Lake, and quickly passed Gary’s favorite tree.
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The hike up was a little on the dry/dusty side, but the weather was good, and the terrain was generally fairly easy, with very modest elevation gains.
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On the trail in, I met a horse packer who had just come back from dropping off feed at their camp, thinking to myself it would be nice to be on the less traveled side of the lake, I suggested we hike off-trail to the West end of Hilton #2, where the inlet creek flows down from Hilton #4/5.
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I started getting dirty looks from my wife when the brush between the trail and the lake shore started getting thick. Luckily, my wife’s best friend, about ½ way through said “C’mon, you have to admit this is at least a little bit fun”.
And then there was the Boulder field. What looked to be fairly simple from a far, turned out to be fairly difficult for the girls to tackle (It was, afterall, the first time for 2 of them backpacking). With many boulders ending up larger than midsized cars, finding a route was a constant challenge. My wife’s best friend’s backpack was rather heavy, and was just too much for her to handle given the terrain, so her husband and I lugged the extra pack across and up.
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When we finally crested the other side, we hiked down an embankment to where the creek flowed in, and there was a nice level area to make camp. Seriously, the nicest campsite I have ever had in the backcountry. With a fire pit(we were just below the 10,000ft fire ceiling) complete with log/rock benches, and plenty of nice flat tent sites, this would be our home for the next 2 nights.

With the tents pitched, I set out to start fishing. As it happened on this trip, all of my nicest fish came when I didn’t have the Camera on me.
The part of the lake we chose had a long sandy shelf where I could wade out in knee-deep water about 50 feet and cast to the rising fish just past the drop-off. In my first cast, I hooked and landed the nicest fish of the trip, a Brown of about 14”. With my next 4 or so cast, I has completed the biological survey of the lake by catching a nice rainbow and a chunky 10” brookie… It was so nice for me to finally see backcountry brookies that aren’t stunted little snakes. My wife came to the shore and took a few pictures of her man doing what he loves.
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Before returning to camp, I decided to fish up the creek a bit before returning to arduous task of building the campfire, again, without a Camera, I hooked the two nicest creek fish of the trip within the first 10 minutes in the creek… a 11” Brookie that was far more colorful than he needed to be, and a Jet-black 11” rainbow that was holding in super fast packet water, fitting for a fish ½ his size.
As I fished past camp, I grabbed the camera and snagged a picture of one more brookie… smaller, but no less beautiful than his larger brethren.
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There’s something about a small stream where I just feel like I am in my element. The streams call to me: not 150 feet from the lake that is a fishing destination for many, here I am standing in a 6-foot wide creek, high-sticking dries to countless small brookies and rainbows. I can’t help myself.
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Finally, with the chill penetrating to the bones in my feet, I allow the fish a reprieve for the evening and settle in to the business of dinner and campfire.
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It wasn’t long after we settled into bed that the rain started. And it never stopped. Oh sure, it let up for a few minutes every hour or so, slowing to a gentle drizzle, but essentially, it rained all night Saturday and all day Sunday.

I fished the lake sparingly on Sunday, as the bite had seemed to tail off with the change in weather, though I did manage one very nice rainbow specimen.
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Despite a bit of a mayfly hatch coming off, the action never really took off.
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We decided, as a group to go explore a small alpine meadow, which was a short but steep 20 minute hike from camp. This two or three hour excursion was the only part of the rainy Sunday where a campfire did not burn.
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The meadow contained countless small brookies who would eagerly rocket themselves clear out of the water when shown a small dry fly.
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We also had the good fortune of discovering the maintained trail, which would later make out hike out easier than returning to the boulder field around Hilton #2, and would take us past Hilton #3 for a short break on Monday’s hike home.
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Before settling in for the evening, I made one more run through the creek near camp, and finished the species survey , managing a small brown in the creek (On a spongebob no less), amongst the countless brookies and rainbows. With that I packed the rod away for the trip, as we were planning to start the hike out first thing in the morning.
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The next morning I awoke first and found the weather clear and lake steaming. The view was beautiful and would surely make the hike out more enjoyable.
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We started the hike out by saying goodbye to our awesome campsite, and hiking up the steep climb to the meadow.
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The vistas en route to the meadow were spectacular without being hindered by dreary weather.
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With the cloud, fog and rain gone, the meadow was more idyllic than the day before.
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Continuing on, we came upon Hilton #3, a beautiful lake that made a good place to take a few pictures before heading out.
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Thanks for reading and sharing this trip with me.
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rayfound
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Aug 26, 2009 5:22 pm

Sounds like a fun trip. Never been there, although I really ought to visit--after all, those lakes were named after me*.




*Okay, if you want to get all technical and factual and all, they weren't. But they do have my name.
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby balzaccom » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:16 pm

Great Post--and good photos. I loved the fish--you seem to share my feeling that those fish are among the most beautiful of all creation!

Thanks for sharing
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby ridgeline » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:40 pm

Looks like a fun trip. It was sierra trips like that in my younger days that hooked me for life.
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby Shawn » Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:52 pm

Great TR; thanks for posting it.
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby gary c. » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:06 pm

That pic of the creek with all of the Brookies stacked up is great. Makes me wish that I had spent some time working the creek, it must have been a blast :thumbsup:
Gary C.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby calipidder » Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:06 am

Really enjoyed the report and the fish are beautiful! I need to get up there someday.
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby cowboypacker » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:01 pm

That fire pit is great to cook on!

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Next time hike up top for this view of all the upper Hiltons

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I also love the snow bent pine by the fire pit touching the pine next to it making a nice doorway.
Glad you enjoyed your trip even with the rain.
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby softhackleone » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:38 am

Awesome report and summary. Looking forward to the summer!
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Re: Couples Trip to the Hilton

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:48 am

Nice trip!

That last brookie is actually a brown, by the way.
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