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TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

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TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby Ikan Mas » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:48 pm

So I needed to get out and backpack a bit before this year’s week-long trips. I had planned on spending three days solo on the east west ladder-shaped trails in Emigrant that run from Crabtree TH to Buck Lakes and back. I hoped that it would be cooler in the mountains and that getting on the trail early would help. I was wrong on that account. It was getting warm by 10:30 on Friday and it was quite warm all weekend, some 85 degrees when I left Saturday afternoon. Bugs, flies and mosquitos were also a plague. It was also high spring, so the birds and flowers were also out, some consolation against the bugs.
After leaving the TH at 9:30, I marched up the hill to Camp Lake. Image
The trout were rising, but I wanted to get farther. Next came Piute Meadows. Image
It continued to warm up and by the time I arrived at Gem Lake, some 11 miles down the trail, I was pooped. Image
Gem Lake was a bit small and I was concerned that it might not have any fish, but after being patient, I discovered that it had these little fatties Image
They ran about 9 inches long and were very deep. They also wouldn’t stick to my Panther Martins. On a whim I tried a Z-Ray I had been packing around for years and found that it did the trick nicely. The one I kept fit nicely in my frying pan. After dinner and a glass of “cardboard box” wine (not bad actually), I retired to avoid having to deal with mosquitos any more.
Next morning I work feeling much better, and decided to see if I could finish the ladder this day. I was on the trail by 6:45 and soon passed Jewelry and Deer Lakes
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Image
When I reached the summit between Deer Lake and Buck Lakes, I found the last of this years’ snow
Image
I then rolled down the hill to Beautiful Upper Buck Lake. After too much glaring granite ugliness, this lake was really nice.
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Image
I fished for a bit and then made my way down to Lower Buck Lake
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And long, strange Wood Lake.
Image
My arrival coincided with a major trout feeding and I happily cast my Panther Martin for a couple of these 12-13” beauties.
Image
From this point the trail begins to descend the Cherry Creek canyon
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Image
Out of the tree cover and in the granite, things began to heat up.
In some spots of this desolate canyon the Mariposa Lillys were just thick, more than I had ever seen in one place at a time.
Image
At Groundhog Meadow, I climbed out of Cherry Creek..
Image
…. And into Pine Valley
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This penstamon was particularly nice
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Good water was pretty scarce in Pine Valley and I finally had to fill my bottle in Grouse Lake, duckwater, ewe! Fortunately, my iodine tabs rendered drinkable. Image
After Grouse Lake, I was in a burned over area, before finally climbing back up to the rim and back to Crabtree. This was one of my longest distance days with 18 miles and a full pack. I was tired, but quickly recovered. 29 miles in two days was a personal best.
In summary, bugs, heat, trout, and the best scenery being the farthest away. I will need to explore Emigrant some more.



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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:29 am

Hi Ikan Mas,

Thanks for posting this wonderful TR and pretty pictures! :thumbsup: Can
relate to the heat and mosquitoes being annoying after being out for 4 days
this past weekend in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. Lakes were very warm,
great for swimming, but nasty for drinking.
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: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:23 am

Thanks for the report, enjoyed the interesting pics.

Been to most of those places long ago early season as a twentysomething during an El Nino year early 70s with epic mosquitoes. Was ignorant about dealing with mosquitoes and gear. Carried a $15 Coleman cotton rectangular bag, orange plastic tube tent, and one bottle of Cutters. First day hiked the full 11.5 miles to east end of Wood Lake in sneakers making the soles of my feet painfully sore. Camped there and rainbow fishing was superb. Mosquitoes were in clouds everywhere and was wearing clothes they poked right through. Every time I sat down for 30 seconds could count several dozen probing down on my somewhat worn thin Levis and would not take long for one to find a weak spot.

Worst place I've ever seen squeets was on that trip, Cow Meadow Lake. Stream there was full of rainbow trout mostly over a foot long but squeets were impossible so had to escape back up the hill and eventually got to Wire Lakes.

Ikan Mas >>>"...I hoped that it would be cooler in the mountains and that getting on the trail early would help. I was wrong on that account. It was getting warm by 10:30 on Friday and it was quite warm all weekend, some 85 degrees when I left Saturday afternoon. Bugs, flies and mosquitos were also a plague. It was also high spring, so the birds and flowers were also out, some consolation against the bugs. After leaving the TH at 9:30, I marched up the hill to Camp Lake. "

It is usually cooler in the morning but not when "...leaving the TH at 9:30", haha. When you read here on the board about those that get an early start on trails, you are likely reading about early dawn risers like this person that are packed up in a half hour and going somewhere before 6am when the sun is just poking through tree tops.

"Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise." -BF

And makes backpacking carrying a pack up mountains much more pleasant. Wonderful quiet peaceful time of day too with birds singing, critters are all out. And take a look at the old mosquitoe avoidance technique thread someone revived as being bitten is an OPTION.
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby lensman137 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:15 pm

Great TR. Heading up to Big Lake and environs around the middle of the month. May camp at Camp Yellowhammer, if the crews aren't there, along with the skeets. From what you've reported, I think (or, hope!) most of the skeets will be gone by then. And ditto to the above remarks about Cow Meadow Lake, a notorious skeet hell hole, along with Huckleberry!
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby Vaca Russ » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:02 pm

Ikan,

You said fish were rising in Camp. Two years ago Jim Lowe said this lake was dead:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5579&p=36600#p36600

There is some encryption in this thread but the reference is about the first lake out of "crustacean plant".

OR, maybe I'm missing something???

Thanks,

-Russ
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby Ikan Mas » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:27 pm

Clearly there are trout in Camp Lake this year. If you look at my posts you can see I spend quite a bit of time on the water and understand trout biology in some depth (though I won't call my self an expert). That said, hard to say what others have seen in the past how lakes change over time. Had I known this was an issue, I would have stopped to sample the local population.

In 2004 I did genetic sampling of Golden Trout with our Boy Scout troop and Fish and Game in the Miter Basin and surrounding areas. The last lake we went to was Cirque Lake. There was a fellow there that had caught a couple of goldens. Knowing that catching enough goldens was tough, we asked if we could take fin snips from his fish and photograph them. He agreed and we got two samples. For the rest of the day and next morning, the entire crew, scouts, adults, and F&G staff really worked that lake. We were unable catch anything else. We wondered whether these fish were the last ones in the lake. I have subsequently learned that the lake is considered dead. That said, when I was there, I followed the outlet stream, which had dried up, down to a live stream that did have fish. It was clear to me that in wet years, fish could and probably did make it to the lake. Unless there was a series of wet years, it is unlikely that fish that made it to Cirque would spawn, since they need a running stream for several months for the fry. Thus Cirque Lake fish could wink in and out of existence with their ephemeral outlet stream, never maintaining a sustainable population. Camp Lake could be similar. Hard to say. Small lakes, such as Camp and Cirque may have have internal factors that cause population crashes (an especially cold year or a lake going anaerobic) or may have been coffee canned by local packers.
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby Vaca Russ » Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:53 am

Ikan Mas wrote:Clearly there are trout in Camp Lake this year. If you look at my posts you can see I spend quite a bit of time on the water and understand trout biology in some depth (though I won't call my self an expert).


IM,

I'm not doubting your claim there are fish in Camp Lake. I am also not doubting Jim Lowe. If some people on the boards had read (like I did) years ago that Camp was dead, the information you now provide is good news.

As to how the fish may have got there??? Maybe DFG planted them. :D

Thanks for informing us of the conditions you observed.

-Russ
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:35 am

Nice report on a great area. Thanks!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby Troutasaurus » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:08 pm

Camp Lake was approved for stocking on July 25, 2010. For me it's good to know that approved lakes are actually getting stocked
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby Ikan Mas » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:19 pm

Vaca Russ: No worries. I wasn't aware that this lake had been previously "dead." Not the first time I found something that I thought was normal, and others thought was special. I guess I should pay more attention to the "dead lake list." I'm relatively new to this wilderness, so I don't have the history. I'm quite thrilled to find trout anywhere, but also am keenly aware of stocking/frog issues. Thank. Hope to see you on the trail.
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby justm » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:23 pm

I hike in that area at least once a year. I was there about a month ago and the fishing was lousy. I'm so glad to hear the stocking has been successful at Camp and Gem lakes. I was at Rasasco early and it looked dead, but was scheduled for stocking at the same time as the lakes you visited. They most have been deep and not rising. Nice photos and thanks for sharing !!
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Re: TR: Heart of Emigrant June 28 and 29

Postby kpeter » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:21 am

It is fun to see your pics that came exactly one month after my visit to many of the same places. That little patch of snow between Deer and Buck Lakes was a couple hundred yards across when I was there! Thank your for sharing!
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