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TR: 9/4-5 Highland Lake (NW Desolation)

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TR: 9/4-5 Highland Lake (NW Desolation)

Postby windknot » Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:57 am

A few weekends ago I did a quick overnighter to Highland Lake from the Van Vleck trailhead. Unlike the weekend before when we had gone into Twin and Island Lakes and been chilled to the bone by that early cold front that came in at the end of August, we experienced great weather on this trip.

The first few miles of the hike were pretty uneventful, but after we passed the Desolation Wilderness sign (an old one that seemingly hasn't been replaced in years) the trail got a bit more interesting. The section that climbs up the brushy hillside is definitely one of the steeper trails I've hiked in a while.

After stopping for lunch at Forni and catching a few medium-sized brookies, we began heading up toward the gap below Tells Peak. There's a trail that's in pretty good shape which goes up to the ridge, but we missed it on the way up. No matter, the routefinding was pretty straightforward and soon we were treated to an expansive vista:
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We picked our way down the other side and spent the rest of the afternoon fishing and finding a nice spot to camp. I had heard from a CDFG biologist that Highland was now being managed as fishless and the lake's population of nice rainbows were being allowed to die out. I hoped I might catch the lake in the stage where the fishery hadn't yet vanished but no new plants were supplementing the population, resulting in big fish.

Alas, it wasn't to be. I fished for several hours in the evening with nary a strike, no cruisers spotted, and not even a rise seen or heard. Perhaps this lake has already become fishless. Perhaps there are still a few monsters lurking in the depths on the far side where the scree slope plunges into the water...

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The lakelets on the outlet stream below the lake are a bit more promising. I hooked a nice fish in one tiny pond but he shook me off, then refused all other offerings. It didn't look like he had any company, but there's at least one fish in there.

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The next morning we packed up and made the entertaining hike back up and over the ridge to the trailhead. This was a fun trip on the strength of an interesting hike and an attractive lakeside campsite in a scenic part of the Desolation Wilderness. Perfect for a quick weekend trip!

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Thanks for reading!
Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/



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Re: TR: 9/4-5 Highland Lake (NW Desolation)

Postby maverick » Sat Sep 18, 2010 3:52 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post the TR and pic's Windknot.
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Re: TR: 9/4-5 Highland Lake (NW Desolation)

Postby balzaccom » Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:12 pm

Nice! Desolation is so close and easy to get to, it's sometime easy to forget! Thanks for reminding me of yet another great destination in the Sierra...
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: TR: 9/4-5 Highland Lake (NW Desolation)

Postby Vaca Russ » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:49 am

Matt,

Once again, thank you for another interesting and informative TR. I learn so much from this forum because of posters such as yourself.

Now I know if I ever plan on camping at Highland, my chances of catching a fish are nil. If you can't catch a fish there, I doubt I would.

Thanks,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: TR: 9/4-5 Highland Lake (NW Desolation)

Postby evan » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:52 pm

Matt-

Sounds like a nice weekend into the sierra - would have been a bit more worth wild if you had a bit more luck with the fishing but - at least you got into the great outdoors! Great photographs! Anywhere specifically in Deso Valley you'd recommend? Pm if you'd like. Thanks!

-Evan
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