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May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

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May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby richlong8 » Thu May 24, 2012 8:15 am

Using Rowell Meadow trailhead as my departure point, I was able to visit Lost Lake, Ranger Lake, Sheep Camp Lakes, and Seville Lake on May 19-20. One of the things I enjoy the most about Highsierratopix is the trip reports people post, and the dialogue back and forth that ensues. So rather than keep this outstanding trip to myself, I will try and share a few details. The Big Meadow road to access the trailheads located off the Generals Highway south of Grant Grove was not supposed to open until a few days before Memorial Day weekend. However, I was fortunate to "ferret" out some info that in fact, the road had opened up a little early. After staying Friday night in Clovis(Fresno) visiting my son' family, and playing with the new grandson, I was able to arrive at the Rowell Meadow trailhead at 7:00am. The quota season was not in effect yet, so there was no need to wait for the ranger station to open at 8:00am, and I got an early start. One funny thing that I had forgotten, there is no gas available in SEKI, at least that I know about. If I had left Fresno with a full tank, it would have been no problem, but I was driving to the first open gas station on fumes on the way down Hwy 180 on Sunday.
I had never visited this area, and it had been on my "shortlist" for awhile. There were no other cars at the trail-head, and I saw no other people the entire weekend, and no tracks on the trail, except deer, and a fair amount of bear and coyote scat. I hiked in 8 miles to Lost Lake, arriving at 12:30pm, and setup camp. There are some downed trees and blow downs on the trail, some snow patches and drifts beginning at 8000', and all creeks are easily fordable. Grant Grove personnel had told me that no ranger had been in to this area in 2012, and that seems to be the case.
It was rather breezy at Lost Lake on Saturday afternoon, so after getting situated, I decided to take camera and fishing gear for a day-hike up to Ranger Lake. I had time to fish the perimeter of the small lake that had a shallow shoreline, and was not able to get any action. There are reports this lake has fish, so my lack of success doesn't mean it is fish-less. In retrospect, I probably should not have been so hesitant to toss a Kastmaster out to the middle of the lake, where the water had to be deeper, but I figured it would be hard to retrieve without getting snagged. It would have been interesting to be here in the early morning or late afternoon, and see if fish were rising.
RANGER LAKE
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Arriving back at Lost Lake around 6:00pm, the fish were rising, and the light was great for photos.
LOST LAKE PM
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I quickly caught about 8 brookies, up to 11 inches, and set one aside for dinner. They were not stunted, but a bit on the thin side, but should fatten up by fall. They liked my Panther Martin spinners, but went after my little one inch woolie worm fly even more enthusiastically.
I enjoyed a great night in the quiet, away from the city environment, eating dinner, drinking coffee, and reading "Utah Blaine"(Louis L'Amour) by the firelight. There was light in the sky until 9:00pm.
Next morning, I was up early, wanting to catch the early morning light for photos, and enjoy some more outstanding fishing.
LOST LAKE AM
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I broke camp for the day at 8:30am, and headed cross country for my next destination: Upper Sheep Camp Lake. Unfortunately, I only was able to spend an hour or so in this beautiful, probably seldom visited spot, because when you have to go to work the next day, it seems like there is always a schedule, even in the wilderness. I only fished a small part of the lake, and the fish were a bit bigger and meatier here, and I might camp up here someday, and really enjoy this lovely spot.
UPPER SHEEP CAMP LAKE
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Next, it was cross country to Lower Sheep Camp Lake, not in sight, but about 325 degrees from the Upper Lake. It was about a 600 foot elevation drop to the lower lake. The upper half was not bad, taking care to circumvent some cliffs, and rock faces, fairly easy going. But the bottom half was a bear, much more difficult to get through than the topo map would indicate. The bottom half was a big talus slide with countless birch and willow trees to get through. I arrived at the lower lake about 1.5- 2 hours later. Lower Sheep Camp is very shallow, and maybe fishless. I think it may be a classic example of a lake that is filling in, and will someday be a meadow. I probably would not repeat this route again, and just backtrack taking the trail. With a full pack, it is doable, but probably not worth the effort. There is a nice closeup view of Ball Dome going this direction.
From the lower lake, it was relatively easy to pick out a route that would intersect and ford the outlet creek of Seville Lake, and then up a few hundred yards to Seville, which appears to be the most heavily used lake in this area.
SEVILLE LAKE
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Didn't feel like fishing anymore, ate lunch, took a nap before heading out to the trailhead. Reportedly, the fishing here is about like Lost Lake. I won't post any fish photos so that folks won't be "bored" with pics of fish that are not lunkers.
Leaving Seville about 1:30, I was back to the car about 6:00pm, ending what was one of the better trips I have taken. No people, perfect weather, enough snow left to add a little life to the photos, decent fishing, out of the city, Its all good,
BREAK SPOT
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Canyon Lakes

Postby gary c. » Thu May 24, 2012 9:05 am

A very nice report and pictures. I never get bored of any kind of fish pictures.
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Canyon Lakes

Postby Vaca Russ » Thu May 24, 2012 11:50 am

Rich,

"One of the things I enjoy the most about Highsierratopix is the trip reports people post, and the dialogue back and forth that ensues. So rather than keep this outstanding trip to myself, I will try and share a few details. "

Thanks for the great report. I too appreciate reading others people's reports. :)

Don't worry about boring some people with pictures of "not lunker" fish. I am one guy named Russ who appreciates pictures of fish even if they are less than the infamous 14 inch plus rule. :D :D

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby rlown » Thu May 24, 2012 12:08 pm

Rich,

Very envious to anyone getting out about now. A very nice report!

Another Russ..
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby maverick » Thu May 24, 2012 12:30 pm

Hi Rich,

First thanks for taking the time to post this great TR.
Love this area, and Lost Lake is a place I have tried to get people to visit since
to me it is one of the prettiest lakes with a trail to it on the western side of the SEKI.
The Sheep Camp Lakes are really pretty too and when last visiting this area several
years ago my route was a crosscountry start from Seville Lakes to Ranger Lakes via
Sheep Camp Lakes.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby richlong8 » Thu May 24, 2012 1:26 pm

maverick wrote:my route was a crosscountry start from Seville Lakes to Ranger Lakes via
Sheep Camp Lakes.


Uphill from Seville Lake to the Sheep Camp lakes? Impressive, Maverick. Whew, I was a little rubber legged, and I was going downhill! I have come down much steeper, longer ridges, but I got caught up in some gnarly brush and talus that made it tough.
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby richlong8 » Thu May 24, 2012 1:27 pm

rlown wrote:Rich,

Very envious to anyone getting out about now. A very nice report!

Another Russ..


Yeah, I was fortunate enough to be able to get out and hit this area at a great time.
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby mediauras » Thu May 24, 2012 9:05 pm

Great trip report, makes me want to grab my backpack and just GO.
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby giantbrookie » Thu May 24, 2012 10:13 pm

Great report and photos. That sure isn't much snow for May 19-20! It's amazing how early things are thawing out.
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: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby richlong8 » Thu May 24, 2012 10:20 pm

I think the melt is about 6-8 weeks ahead of normal, depending on the exposure. If all goes according to plan for me, I should be able to go down into Tephite Valley in early July, and the river should be low enough to make for some decent fishing and exploring.
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Re: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby oldranger » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:17 pm

Rich,

Somehow I missed your post (was in yosemite at the time). Best route between Upper and Lower Sheep camp lakes is roughly down the outlet stream of Upper Sheepcamp, starting on the right side going down but then switching to the left and working your way down to Seville then doing the easy traverse to Lower Sheep Camp. From 84 thru 90 except for one big snow year I spent memorial day weekend fishing, er patrolling Seville, Lost, and Ranger lakes before heading into my Ranger Station at Roaring River. During years that there was no Ranger lakes Ranger a trailhead ranger from Lodgepole would head into Ranger Lakes occasionally. A couple of times I rode over on my stock and spent Labor day weekend in the area because it got much more use than Roaring River.

Thanks for the pics.

PM to follow.

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: May 2012 Trip Report- Belle Canyon, Sheep Camp Lakes

Postby windknot » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:03 pm

Rich,

Sorry, I must have missed this report when you first posted it as well. Thanks so much for sharing; recalls fond memories of a nearly identical trip I did two years ago.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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