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Good Times on the Silver Divide

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Good Times on the Silver Divide

Postby krudler » Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:30 am

Finally I got to take the trip I spent all those months planning and asking people questions about. I sincerely appreciate all the comments and advice I received from many of you!

So on Sat, Aug 26 a friend of mine (Ken) and I set out from Devil's Postpile near Mammoth. The plan was to hike out to Fish Creek and follow it all the way up Cascade Valley, then x-country up to some lakes along the Silver

Divide above Tully Hole reputed to have good fishing, then x-country up to the base of McGee Pass and take the trail over the pass and then back down the canyon to the 2nd car left in waiting at the McGee trailhead. Grand Total = about 50 miles, give or take.

The first day was tough: full packs, no acclimitization to altitude, and an 8-10 mile planned trek to a campsite on Fish Creek. Ken actually puked at about 80% of the way there, but attributed this to the trail mix not sitting so well on his stomach. Oh the trail mix. We would come to love it.

Here's the view down the trail. We've come about 3-4 miles and have 6 or more to go to Fish Valley, way distant at mid-picture.
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Finally we reach the switchbacks down to the valley/creek. Here is a view looking up valley from the trail. Fish Creek is below, Iva Bell hot springs are at the head of the valley. We won't make it that far this day.
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Here is a view of the bridge at Island Crossing, not far from our camp. Fishing was good here.
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Here is a sample, slightly smaller than the average. I caught a nice 11" hybrid near here the first night. Many were caught, they all look alike, why take more than 1 pic:
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The next day we took it easy to recover somewhat, poking slowly up the valley towards Iva Bell so that we could recover and

fishing many pools along the way. Fishing was more of the same...nymphing was very effective early-mid day. At the end of the day we pitched camp near the hot springs and I climbed up to the top of the valley and found the highest spring pool.

The hot waters were a welcome relief to my aching muscles. The single malt scotch didnt hurt either.
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The next day we headed up the trail to climb out of Fish Valley and into Cascade Valley, following Fish Creek. Here is a view from the switchbacks, the spring I sat in is near the top (about 80% of the way up) on the left. You cant see it though.
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The section of Fish Creek above Iva Bell and before Cascade Valley proper had some really sweet looking pools and camping areas, a fine destination in its own right.
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Eventually we reached Second Crossing...a wet crossing.
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There were many waterfalls and plunge pools in this section.
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Evetually we reached our campsite, a spot I used before two years ago October. The stream is slower here and yields lots of fun and feisty fish. I saw a huge deer and her fawn cross the stream only 40 yards from me.
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Up the valley we poked the next day, taking plenty of time to stop and fish. Ken enjoyed this nice plunge pool.
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I found another.
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Complemented with more meadow sections and the ever-nearing Silver Divide in the distance.
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We came upon a great campsite, we had to scramble down towards the river but we were at the head of a huge waterfall (sorry, pics didnt turn out good). Ken and I took turns pulling nice hybrids out of the plunge pool.
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Meanwhile the Silver Divide loomed above the top of the falls. This pic sucks. The colors I saw while fishing this evening were spectacular.
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The next day we headed up towards the JMT crossing and Tully Hole. There was yet another creek crossing.
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Nearing Tully Hole we could look up and see the top of the bench that held our destination for the day, Hortense Lake. We would have to cross-country up there. It was an interesting climb but I was stoked that my route-finding was adequate.
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Fish Creek in Tully Hole.
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Postby krudler » Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:32 am

Finally we reached our penultimate destination, Hortense Lake. It was beautiful. I even enjoyed a couple high-dives off a conveniently placed rock into the clear and icy blue waters.
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Looking out over Hortense and the Silver Divide nearing alpenglow. Hortense is actually 2 lakes (upper and lower), split in half by a "land bridge". The lower lake contains many scenic islets but appears to be too shallow to harbor fish (winter freeze) as we didn't see any signs of them.
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However the next day we went x-country to the upper lake. The route was scenic and interesting.
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the fishing for brookies FANTASTIC.
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It seems the average size for brookies here is 11-13", with some larger. They were not interested in the buggers/streamers I threw but aggressively took any large bushy dry I could toss (including a "Bugmeister" from Orvis my brother got me for Xmas, some hoppers, and some stimulators).

A view back to the lower lake from a fishing spot on the "land bridge".
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Eventually it was time to leave Hortense and start our x-country route over the Silver Divide. What a great way to start, with a snow crossing!
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The x-c amongst this area is truly spectactular. Roper's description of this "parkland" is quite appropriate.
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Our next stop was Izaak Walton Lake, seen below. We would have to climb up the wall on the opposite side of the lake.
Challenging (with packs), but do-able.
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View of the lake from the climb:
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There were many small lakelets and tarns scattered about this area. Most were fishless but exceedingly scenic:
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Here is a view of Shout-of-Relief Pass, a x-c pass over the Silver Divide from the Mono Creek/Canyon side. Orginially I was to have come this way, but the schedule let to a re-working of the itinerary.
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Eventually we came to Tully Lake.
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I thought it had goldens, but as it turns out more fiesty and sizeable brookies. These 2 made it into my stomach that night:
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The next day we did some x-c travel and eventually re-joined the trail above Horse Heaven. Here Ken stops to fish the headwaters of Fish Creek - there were lots of goldens in here an he landed an 11"er on a spoon!
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Up next was McGee Pass, at about 11916'. It is to the right of Red Slate Mountain seen here.
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The view back towards the way we came, seen from about 1/2 way up the pass.
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The pass was spectacular. The view from the other side revealed some more snow traversing ahead, plus views of the Pioneer and Hopkins Basins beyond.
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Ken does some snow travel down the pass.
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Little McGee Lake.
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We made camp down canyon below Big McGee Lake (below 10000' so we could have a fire). The views from the trail were spectacular.
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McGee Creek is very scenic and fishable in this section.
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Eventually we neared the end of the canyon, and eventually the car.
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But, round about this time is when Ken says "So...we're going back to my car right?". Well, yeah, why? "Cause I left my keys

in your car." Which is 30 miles away at the Main Lodge in Mammoth!

**** God Bless the nice dudes at the trailhead who gave me a lift back to Mammoth where I could catch the free shuttle back to my car at the Main Lodge!! ****

All in all, an awesome trip. Pics don't really do it justice, of course, but you get the idea.

One final note: the water filter/pump finally gave out on me on about the 2nd day. The rest of the trip we drank unfiltered,

with no apparent problems.
"Krusty, you know Bette Midler?"
"Yeah we own a racehorse together - the Krudler!"
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Postby Strider » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:23 pm

Killer shots! Took me away from my desk for awhile.
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Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:30 pm

Great trip and photos! The xctry part looks pretty cool! The fish too! Our building manager was bringing us trout when we were in Mammoth (Aug). Good stuff! Thanks for the report! We'll have to do that trip someday. :D
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby cgundersen » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:33 pm

Krudler,
The alpenglow photo looked pretty darn good to me! Ditto for the rest-especially those two shots from the top of McGee; it's a geologically stunning area. Got me thinking about next year....
CG
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Postby Rosabella » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:36 pm

Great report and BEAUTIFUL pictures!! I keep saying one of these days I'm gonna take a fishing trip.... your post makes it really appealing! (first I have to really learn how to fish :\ )

You went thru some beautiful country, and...oh... what I wouldn't have given to have run across a hot springs like yours on my last trip :D. Glad the end of the trip "key problem" worked out!
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Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 12, 2006 1:14 pm

Enjoyed reading about your travels thanks for sharing. Was familiar with all your routes once reaching Izaak Walton but I've never been down in the lower Fish Creek areas.

Several of your images were pretty dark on my screen indicating they were not processed to bump up the luminance to normal levels. The resulting images would of course show much better. Simple digital cameras will take lots of such images as there are always some bright scenes that will fake out the sensors resulting in underexposures. Very easy to improve in any imaging program. ...David
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Postby copeg » Tue Sep 12, 2006 2:48 pm

Great photos and TR! Looks like you had a fantastic time - great views and great fishing. Silver divide is on my list for the coming years.
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Postby krudler » Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:10 pm

Thanks all for the comments, and once again you have no idea how very helpful and inspirational you all have been in this regard. I probably would not have gotten to where I could have done this without all the info and inspiration gleaned from this site over the years!

Dave, thanks for your comments about the photos. I am no photo expert (not even close!), especially by the standards of yourself and some of the other great folks on here. I'm mostly point and click, but with the "new" digital camera I got 2 years ago (Canon S500) I noticed I was getting alot of pics, especially in the middle of the day, that the scenery was TOO bright and the colors/detail were getting washed out. I don't really know the best way to control this kind of stuff, but I did stumble on a setting in the camera that I think what it is allowing me to do is reduce the aperture, and so when it is really bright out I tend to do that. Of course, it's trial and error - in other words, I have no idea HOW much to dial it down for a particular lighting condition (the settings seem to go in thirds: -1/3, -2/3, -1, etc, and up the other way) so I just shoot. I would guess this is why some of them appear kind of dark, although if I print them it does not seem to be as dramatic of a darkening.
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Postby Trailtrekker06 » Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:57 pm

ahh- what a great trip! Didn't do too much fishing this year, so especially nice to see your fish pics. Glad you had a good trip and got back to your vehicle okay, it's nice to know there are "trail angels" at the TH's , too!
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Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:34 pm

k, adjusting the 1/3 stop incremental exposure compensation settings are one way to control the exposure in digital cameras, however as long as the scene is within about 2/3 stop one can more easily deal with the resulting raw file in an imaging program. That will allow you to shoot images as you see them without needing to monkey around with your camera controls and menus. Advanced camera users like myself do adjust such controls regularly from shot to shot but unless an image has some importance, simply taking a shot and later post processing can suffice. The time to fix such shots in an image editing program takes mere seconds. And one can batch process a whole directory full of images in one quick whack. There are many imaging editing programs out there for modest cost as well as freeware for download. Novices ought to buy simple popular consumer packages which ought to have all the basic tools needed today while being simply documented well enough to allow even beginniers to use the software without assistance. Anyone that buys these new hi tech digital camera gadgets ought to also take time to use some of this software because it will make your experience and those of your audience much better. I can't give you any specific recommendations since the low end applications are out of my realm but others here certainly might. Best of luck and I hope to see more of your TR images....David
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Postby giantbrookie » Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:18 pm

I've looked forward to hearing this report of yours ever since you said you were doing this trip and your report certainly didn't disappoint. Outstanding! Just a little note: the shallow part (half, or whatever one calls it) of Hortense is not fishless, or at least it wasn't as of my last time through there in the late 90's (just has a super low fish density). I am pleasantly surprised to see that the deep side have is giving up 11-13" instead of the smaller ones I caught the last time . This may be a product of possible management changes and if the population density is lower in that half, then maybe not as many are making over it to....
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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