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TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

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TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby Herm » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:21 am

Greetings All;

I spent the afternoon re-writing my TR, and it follows beneath Wandering Daisy's comment.

I am so pissed! I spent most of the morning so far writing up a trip report from my recent excursion in the Sabrina Basin. I had just completed the description of the final day, and had inserted many photos. Switching from one tab to another, I suddenly realized that I had closed the tab with the report, and none of it had been saved. I do not have time at this moment to write it all up again, so instead I will share the photo link -
http://cdandherm.smugmug.com/Sierra-Nev ... 991_6N6Z5c

As time allows, I will try again to write up the tr.
Cheers,
Herm
Last edited by Herm on Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - OOPS!

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:37 pm

That happened to me once. Now I write up the trip report in WORD and then copy/paste it to the post (just like copy/paste photos).
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - OOPS!

Postby Herm » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:21 pm

Okay, so here goes my second attempt at posting this trip report - this time, I will be saving drafts so as not to lose the whole thing again.

On the morning of Tuesday September 4, 2012, I set out from home for the long drive north on US 395. The drive was smooth and uneventful, with virtually no traffic. For the first time ever, I had to wait for a train as it rode up the valley of the Garlock fault, across the highway north of Randsburg. Somewhere between Independence and the Rest Area south of Big Pine, the 20% chance of showers/thunderstorms became reality. Around 1PM, I was at the Bishop office of the USFS, where I obtained a non-reserve permit - in under 10 minutes, I was on my way directly to the Sabrina Basin Trailhead. I parked my truck adjacent to the Sabrina Campground, and went about final preparations as a light rain fell. To ensure proper hydration and to limit the need to carry much water, I downed about a half gallon of water before setting out. The sky looked menacing, especially toward the west, but at 3:15PM I was ready to leave -
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Along the road to Sabrina Lake I walked, until I got to the construction zone where the Bridge over Bishop Creek is being replaced. There I had to wait while an excavator filled a dump truck, then continued on the official trailhead. At 3:30PM, I was on the trail to begin my journey. After passing a packtrain and several outbound hikers, I was past the Sabrina Lake Dam, adjusting to the strain of a too heavy pack, and the lack of time acclimating at altitude, when the rain began to fall in a driving wind. I took shelter under a white bark pine, waiting for the worst of the weather to pass, before pressing on under clearing skies to the obligatory wilderness boundary photo -
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Those who know this trail know that from that point the trail begins climbing with little shade until approaching the creeks draining from George Lakes. It was refreshing to find both of these creeks flowing well, where I stopped briefly to wet my bandana and wipe my sweaty face. Given that this was my fourth time hiking this trail, I felt good in knowing what to expect. After the initial climb, I took a short break to remove my pack and eat a snack, then resumed climbing. As I climbed the last steep section of engineered switchbacks below Blue Lake, a pika made itself plain to see right between two switchbacks, but did not pose long enough for a picture. Around 6:10PM I snapped this photo as I crossed the outlet stream of Blue Lake -
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After crossing the outlet, and walking past the illegal campsites too close to the water, I briefly spoke with a man who was taking photos (the first person encountered since talking with an outbound hiker at the George Creek crossing), who said he was camped somewhere nearby - I continued on without seeing his camp. My intended destination was the bench above the south end of Blue Lake, near the inlet. By 6:30PM, I rolled into the camp spot that I had stayed at seven years earlier, and immediately dropped my pack and began to set up tent. It was not until after setting up my camp that I noticed I had a neighbor nearby, but at that point it was too late to move, and I was not going to hoist the pack again. Anyway, there was a canyon and about 100 yards between us, with sheltering trees on both sides, and the rushing sound of the inlet creek, so the relatively close proximity was not a problem. In near darkness, I went down to the lake to collect water, then filtered the water back at camp. I enjoyed a good hot meal with tea, secured all of my smellables, then retired to the tent for the night at about 9:30PM. After a long day, I quickly fell asleep, and slept soundly through the night.

On Wednesday 9/5/12, I awoke refreshed, to clear skies -
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and set about making a pot of coffee and breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and walnuts. Clouds began building early on, and it felt as though the chance for rain was good. After breakfast, I rigged up my fly rod with a stimulator, then went down to fish the south end of Blue Lake, near the inlet. The inlet area is quite shallow, and there were fish rising. After snagging a tree and breaking off my tippet, I was able to retrieve the stuck fly and tippet from the tree, so moved to an area where the shallow inlet waters deepened against the side of a cliff. Here I caught my first brook trout, an 8-inch class fish that got me started.

I climbed back to my camp, and packed for a day hike, then set off with fly rod in hand to ply the waters of the inlet stream above Blue Lake. There were lots of eager trout in the stream, but most were tiny. This stream comes down from Baboon Lakes high above, and contains both brook and rainbow trout. Still using the stimulator, I enticed this pretty little rainbow from the stream -
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The little guy came out of this spot, a creek flowing atop granite -
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Continuing upstream, I came to a use trail to Donkey Lake, which would be today's destination. I climbed up over the ridge, past a drying tarn, then down to the west shore of Donkey Lake, a pretty little lake resting below the flank of Thompson Ridge. Finding a crack in the cliff, I was able to get down to the lake, where I cast along the cliff face for a pair of brook trout, and then the rain began - it was about 2:15PM. Climbing out of the crack, I explored the broad bench for a while, working my way north, back toward my camp. I found another spot along the west shore of Donkey Lake, where the access to the water was easier, and the ability to fly cast was unimpeded. I caught a couple more brook trout, but the rain was getting wetter, as shown in this photo -
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I continued working my way back toward camp, boulder hopping near the outlet of Donkey Lake, then traversing down the west side of a ridge, before rejoining the stream that I had fished earlier. I walked upstream a little ways, and scared a deer from its resting place. Like the deer, at this point I crossed the stream, and soon found the use trail that would lead me back to camp. Back in camp, the rain intensified, and at about 3:15PM a hail storm began, lasting for 15 minutes. Around 4:40PM, the first and only roll of thunder for the whole trip echoed through the canyon. Rain continued off and on for the rest of the afternoon, but never heavy enough to cause concern, but enough to keep the dust down. My neighbor huddled against the rain, taking shelter under a bright yellow umbrella. I made dinner of black bean tacos and an instant Thai coffee drink, while watching raindrops and trout dimple the surface of Blue Lake. Later that evening, the neighbor played a single tune on a flute - the sound seemed so natural, my first impression was the flute must be of Native American design.

On Thursday 9/6/12, I again woke to clear skies, but there was condensation dripping from the rainfly of my tent. My original intent was to only spend a night or two at Blue Lake, and to move around the basin. However, the recent forecast had cast doubt that lingered throughout the trip. Given that my gear was dry, I decided that my camp at Blue Lake was going to serve as a basecamp for the rest of my trip, and that my explorations would be done as day hikes. Five years previous, I had camped at Midnight and Moonlight Lakes, so for this trip the exploration would involve the area upstream of Blue Lake.
As Thursday morning progressed, the weather looked ominous. I hung around camp after breakfast, taking time to write in my journal, and exploring the immediate surroundings of my camp. The neighbor came by and introduced herself as she departed for a day hike. I inquired about the music, and she confirmed that indeed her instrument was a flute of Native American design, and she promised to play another tune for me later. Also took time to gather and filter water. Rain started at about 1:20PM, and during the rain, I made a hot lunch of ramen and a cup of coffee. Around 3PM, I headed out to fish the west shore of Blue Lake, and marvel at the ever changing light cast upon this high Sierra setting -
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Setting up my spinning rod with a single hook Kastmaster in blue/chrome, I caught and easily released a couple brook trout. Under intermitent rain showers, I worked along the west shore, nearly to the outlet, before beginning my trek back toward camp. At one nice rocky point, I switched over to my fly rod, but found no takers. I completed my day of fishing Blue Lake by scrambling up a boulder-choked gully near my camp, then strolling over the slabs back to camp. Back in camp, I prepared my dinner and a cup of tea. The neighbor played another tune - it was a good day.

Friday morning 9/7/12 broke clear and cool, with the ground soaked wherever the rain from Wednesday had touched the surface. After breakfast and coffee, I gathered and filtered water, then began preparations for a day hike up to Baboon Lakes. I started out from camp just before noon, and upon my neighbor's recommendation, took the signed trail to -
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rather than hiking up the canyon streamside. The trail climbed steeply at first, and I huffed and puffed upward, hugging the west wall of the canyon, eventually reaching an elevation above 11,000 feet, before dropping down to beautiful Baboon Lakes -
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Just about an hour after leaving camp, I arrived along the northwest shore of the lowest Baboon Lake, and set about exploring the immediate surroundings. Seeing many dimples on the surface, I quickly found a good looking spot, and set up my fly rod, tying on an old fly called a Palisades Special that I had purchased from the Cardinal Village Resort Store many years prior. On my very first cast, I caught a beautiful and feisty brook trout, and for the next nearly four hours, it was game on! In that time span, I probably caught and released 40 fish. I caught fish on an elk hair caddis, an olive(?) matuka, and the most productive fly was a California mosquito, which caught fish until I removed the fly because it was wasted! Nearing my time to depart, I tied on a pattern that I believe is called a punk perch, cast it out and got struck immediately, but I missed the hook. Casting again, I was hit, but this time set the hook. Right away, it was obvious that this fish was different than the brook trout that I had been catching. This fish took to the air, and repeatedly jumped trying to shake the hook. When brought to hand, I was impressed by the stunning beauty of this rainbow trout -
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It was about the length of my boot, so conservatively I would say this was a 12-inch fish. I caught one more brook trout, then broke down and stowed my gear for my hike back to camp. I was impressed by the scenery at this spot -
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Leaving Baboon Lake a little past 5PM, I was able to make it back to camp just after 6PM. As soon as I arrived at camp, the neighbor called me over for a chat. We chatted and exchanged e-mail addresses, and agreed to share photos. I was impressed by the fact that this woman, just a year younger than my own mother, was out here in the wilderness by herself for a week.

Though the weather remained dry on this day, there were plenty of clouds about, providing for a good evening light show -
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As usual, I don't feel these pictures do justice to the actual scene, but they do give an idea for those who have seen these sights with their own eyes.
I went to bed on Friday with a sense of satisfaction in having gotten into the high Sierra to see some great sights, and caught some beautiful fish using my limited fly fishing skills.

On Saturday 9/8/12, I awoke knowing it was the day to return home. I leisurely enjoyed coffee and a smoothy while packing my gear. I visited with my neighbor for a bit -
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and she promised to play a tune of departure for me, as a means of ensuring my safe passage.
Around 10:15AM, I hoisted my pack, and with a nice tune, I was on my way down the trail. My sense of solitude was gone, as I ran into 3 different groups (including a pack train) by the time I reached the outlet of Blue Lake. As I passed the wilderness sign, another picture was necessary -
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Still closer to the trailhead, I found this sign that summer is coming to an end, and autumn is fast approaching -
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And by 12:30PM, I was back at the truck, much richer for the experience.

Thanks for reading.
Herm
Last edited by Herm on Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby hikerdmb » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:31 pm

Great TR. I am glad you took the time to rewrite it. I love that area. I have been in that area the past 2 summers. Baboon Lakes are a great place to camp and explore.
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby rlown » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:10 pm

Nice TR, Herm!
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby Herm » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:20 pm

Thanks hikerdmb;
I can see a fifth trip to Sabrina Basin in my future, especially to spend more time at and around Baboon. The sense of solitude was amazing, knowing how close I was to the road end. In the other drainage, I would like to further explore Hungry Packer, which I previously paid only a brief visit as I moved between Midnight and Moonlight Lakes. My neighbor did say that it was much busier around Dingleberry and areas above.
I am glad that I took the time to write the tr again.

And thank you, Russ - good luck next week!
Herm
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Re: TR - Spabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby SweetSierra » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:01 pm

Thanks. I enjoyed reading your trip report. I've never been to this area. And you happened upon a great flute playing neighbor. When I've hiked solo, I've always enjoyed the people I met and who happened to camp nearby.
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby Herm » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:42 pm

The pleasure is mine, Sweet Sierra. The Sabrina Basin is relatively easy to access, and packs a lot into a small area. Check it out, you won't be sorry.
Good neighbors are good to have, and she was definitely a good neighbor. This was only my second solo backpack, and on my first, I met rlown, who is a regular here on the forum.
Good times.
Herm
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby KathyW » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:42 am

Great report - fall colors already.
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby Mradford » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:46 am

Great report, the photos of the sunset overcast sky are awesome!
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby Jimr » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:31 pm

I like Sabrina basin as well. I've been there 4 times. In the early '70's, you could camp on the island in Blue lk. We brought an inflatable 3 man raft and rowed there from the outlet. Back then, there were mostly rainbow trout. We spent 3 days soaking worms on flashers and catching lots of trout. Next time I went back was in the '80's. I stayed about where you camped at the inlet side. A nice forested camp spot. I took the wife & kids there in 2009 and stayed in a wonderful spot to the left of the outlet stream (facing the lake). A nicely forested camp spot which I'm sure gets pack outfitter use because before you pass around the last rock outcropping before seeing the lake, there is a use trail that heads there. I went back again in 2009, but this time went solo to Hungry Packer Lk. That was a great solo trip that took me up to Wallace/Haechel col. in 40 mph winds. Hungry Packer has very limited campsite possibilities, but I did manage to find a decent spot on top of a small bench above the lake. I might take my son there next year, but stay at Moonlight or thereabouts.

I think the lack of any easy access over the escarpment keeps the traffic down a bit in this area, but there is so much to explore just in the watershed that it is worth going back.
What?!
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Re: TR - Sabrina Basin - 9/4 - 9/8/12

Postby Herm » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:08 pm

Jimr;
I don't think I have ever heard anyone say they dislike the Sabrina Basin. If the spot at Blue Lake is the one in the trees on the bench above the southwest corner, then yes. The spot has a great view of the length of the lake, much of the west flank of Thompson Ridge, as well as Piute Crags, and a filtered view of the high peaks south.
At Moonlight Lake, there is a broad sandy bench near the outlet that is nice and level, but wide open - and I believe it is just quite far enough from the water to be legal. It made a great spot in good weather when I stayed there in 2007. Good that you have a family that packs.

KathyW and Mradford;
I'm glad you appreciated the report. It is a pleasure to give back on this site.

Thanks HST!
Cheers,
Herm
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