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TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby oldranger » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:20 pm

Doyle,

The little lake below Big Brewer is little Brewer. Big Brewer has rb trout while Little Brewer has rainbow/golden hybrids. The lake you called Little Brewer had no fish in as late as 1990. Did you actually see fish?

You are correct in your assessment that stock could, indeed, make it up to Big Brewer. Much to my dismay an NPS party did so when I was the RR Ranger. They kind of chewed up that grassy slot you followed down. I once rode as far as little Brewer but decided it was too much risk for the stock.

There is a trail that heads off the Avalanche Pass trail that starts between the 2nd and 3rd lateral morains as you go up the trail out of Roaring River. I took it once before figuring out an easier way to intersect the old trail by following the Avalanche Pass trail about a half mile further up before heading s. to intersect the trail. The trail can be easily followed all the way up to Little Brewer. At the frog pond (what you called Little Brewer) there is a lateral trail that crosses Brewer Creek, crosses Barton Meadow, goes a little further s. then switchbacks down to Cement Table Meadow.
At Cement table meadow there used to be an old snag with "Brewer Creek and Lakes" carved in it with an arrow pointing e. of the trail up Cloud Canyon.

I traveled this loop a couple of times a summer on horseback back in the 80s. The switchbacks down to Cloud Canyon were pretty brushy back in the 80s and to my knowledge subsequent rangers have not used the route.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!



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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:10 pm

OldRanger, That is very interesting, and the most information I have had about that area since having some conversations with a real old timer who knew Shorty Lovelace and told me about Shorty’s big place in Crowley Canyon (and directed me to the cabin in Cloud Canyon). I never could figure out which lake was Little Brewer Lake, but I will assume it is the one just below Big Brewer Lake. Lets call the small low lake Lower Brewer Lake. When I was there, I wondered why there were a number of camps there by the outlet, but I am guessing your old trail from Cement Table Meadow ended up there (and that trail must now be ill-defined because when I went through Cement Table Meadow, I did not notice a trail). While I was at Big Brewer Lake, a party came from below, but I did not ask them of their route, but they very well could have found/used the old trail. I was at Lower Brewer Lake in 1999, and thinking about it and looking at my notes, I think I did see some few small fish surfacing, but that was near mid-day, and evening could tell a different story. It is a very rare trip for me to fish (they just ignore me), and I am not out there for the fishing, so I am not that kind of source for fishy info. So Roaring River was your patrol. What a great area. I have been through there a number of times, and that patrol cabin is one of the most ideal/pastoral/scenic RS out there IMHO. Thanks for the info!

Here is a picture of the RRRS and the area around it: http://www.doylewdonehoo.com/kaweah/Kaweah05.htm
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby windknot » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:04 pm

Thanks for the report and pictures, WD. I've always wanted to visit this area.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby KathyW » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:01 pm

Nice report.

I tried both sides of the creek between where you leave the trail to head up along Sphinx Creek to the lakes a few years ago when I did Brewer. I went on the west side on the way up and on the east side on the way down - I never saw a use trail and the bushwacking and bugs were terrible in that section between where you leave the trail and the first Sphinx lake. It is a beautiful area though - well worth the one section of hell.
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby Cross Country » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:58 pm

Those pics of lower Brewer were cool. I've never seen it in person. Big Brewer sure does have great alpenglow. The pic of the col above South Guard reminded of how barren and rocky South Guard is. I agree with most here. The first time up we ascended the East side - yuk! The other 4 times we (2) and I (2) went up the West side - way better. By the way has anybody more than me seen the mine shaft and left behind equip. between the 2nd and 3rd lakes. One time I hiked from Roads end to the 2nd lake and stayed the night there (I caught dinner at the 1st lake). It was legal then to have a fire there. I cooked my fish and had a nice campfire (no fish there).

The first orienteering I ever did solo was on our trip over Longly from Sphinx. We hiked all the way out from Reflection starting at noon with a stop at the first Bubbs junction to cook fish from Reflection. We had eaten all the food for our trip, therefore I ate nothing but these fish that day. This fast pace downhill hike from Reflection was the beginning of big feet problems on downhill (especially on trail) hikes for the rest of my backpacking life. It's one reason I always preferred to go cross country.

One morning at Sphinx I did the only daybreak fishing of my life (I don't like arising early). We were camped at the 4th lake with is barely above the 3rd. I had to get up for a personal need. I got back in my bag and lay there for about 10 minutes. I then looked at my watch and realized that the first light of dawn would be in about 20 - 25 minutes. I was pretty sure that the big lake had big fish. I walked down to it and made about 1 - 2 casts with my PM before catching the first of 2 17 - 18 inch fish. Those 2 fish were the largest I ever caught out of Sphnix.

I bet there had never been a bear at this lake but then why take chances?

This way my first (of many) fist I caught out of Sphnix.
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby no2haven » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:02 pm

My first off-trail experience was up to Sphinx Lakes with the goal of bagging Francis Farquhar 4 years ago. A friend and I thought it'd be fairly easy (!) so we did it as a weekend trip...Bay Area to Road's End Friday night after work, in line at the ranger station for the permit lottery at first light Saturday morning. We stayed on the west side of the creek and thought it was great fun to go up boulder fields with heavy packs...

Sphinx Lakes_033.JPG
Boulder Fields


Those boulders did me in and I had my first experience with 'bonking.' I think I actually threw down my (overpacked) backpack and refused to go any farther. Fortunately, there was an amazing campsite right at the top of the headwall.

Sphinx Lakes_036.JPG
Campsite


We went up to the Sphinx Lakes the next morning (fairly easy off-trail on the east side of the creek and above the lakes on granite slabs). We hung out an hour or two and then went back down to camp, packed up, and went all the way back down to the car. You know its a long day when the mile of flat trail at the base of the canyon feels like torture. I drove about halfway home while my friend slept and then we switched off for the rest. Got home after 1am. Incredible weekend.

Sphinx Lakes_043.JPG
Sphinx lakes


I've always wanted to go back and check out Brewer basin. Just a gorgeous area. There aren't too many places with a view so good even the marmots take a moment to stop and stare :nod:

Sphinx Lakes_047.JPG
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby Cross Country » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:27 pm

Doyle: I just read (not in it's entirety, but I will) your Colby Pass TR entry. It was GREAT. What a treat to read this. I didn't have a camera over my Colby pass trip so I enjoyed your stuff immensely. It is my favorite area (the upper Kern Drainage). I just love this area and have no complaints AT All. Fire rings are just part of whats there. I have NO complaints. I hope you eventually change your mind, but if not it's just the difference between you and me, and I have lots of tolerance for difference. The way you do your TRs is absolutely excellent. I hope to enjoy your entries until the day I die.
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:30 am

Great report and beautiful photos. I agree with Russ' Rule No.1 of course. I was fortunate enough to sample those lakes on my last visit. That is a mighty nice area and I thought Farquhar was a very nice peak that I wouldn't mind trying. I think I'd have headed through the notch north of it and tried to finish on what appears to be the easier slope on the other side. I was at that notch when hiking to fishless North Guard Lake and Farquhar didn't look so bad from there. I'm finally looking at Topix after 10+ days away. I'm stranded in Guangzhou right now because of a lost passport, so the Sierra seems much more distant than usual.
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
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Re: TR Brewer Basin-Sphinx Lakes

Postby ManOfTooManySports » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:17 pm

Nice bear bag, Cross Country. The good old days. And nice marmot photo, no2haven.
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