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Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

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Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby DriveFly44 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:00 pm

{Note: TR contains enough non-fish narrative and pics that I thought it would be appropriate here}

In 2005, I placed an order for the Tom Harrison JMT map pack, knowing full well that it would be a remote possibility to ever have the time and ability to experience this magnificent and historic trail. I'd have to settle for living vicariously through various online journals and Youtube videos, as well as shuffling through the 13 pages of the map pack during my numerous late night readings of Beck and McDermand.

With a career change and a sequence of timely circumstances, it was surreal to find myself with my buddy venturefar at Happy Isles trailhead on the 4th of July launching one of the greatest adventures of my life. After over two years of planning and preparation for this day, it was finally here.
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Now we really didn't 'hike' the JMT per se, we fished it. 90% of our planning revolved around positioning ourselves to spend time around the streams, rivers, and lakes where our research and inclinations told us there would be favorable fishing. Through our 23 day adventure, we would stumble, stall, and peer into all bodies of water, oftentimes being mistaken for two inebriated hikers who had no business on the trail. Our hike took us off the JMT in several areas, and in the end totaled around 235 miles.

So it is with day one, that after a brief separation we found ourselves on a small stream 9 miles into our adventure ready to cast our first fly. We anxiously strung our rods and made our first presentation. Wow, what a start!! Lahontan cutts.
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We enjoyed this small stream fishing for an hour and then backtracked a mile or so on the trail and set up camp. It was then that we made the decision that we would go after half dome for an evening summit. As we approached the dome, I couldn't help but have visions of hoards of people clinging onto the cables which I had seen in numerous photographs. But this day would be a little different........Image

As we reached the top, there was one person up there, our boy Julio who we would encounter several times on our JMT journey. He snapped a few photos of us on top. In this one it is easy to see how venturefar can hurdle most streams and medium-sized lakes :D

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Julio then descended and Derek and I had the place to ourselves. We kept an eye on the distant thunderstorms and took a rip of Jim Beam as we reflected on a wonderful first day of our trip. We would hike 17 miles, climb 6K in vertical feet, and conclude with half dome to ourselves before heading back to camp. I'll tell ya, it was a great way to celebrate Independence Day!!
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The next day we headed towards cathedral lakes which took us by some killer backdrops Image

Cathedral Peak was certainly a treat and gave us the feeling that we were truly on our wayImage

And the evening alpenglow made up for the slow fishing at lower cathedral.Image

The next morning we were early on the trailImage

We arrived at Tuloumne Meadows and gathered with all the other thru hikers to open our resupply packages....it was kind of like christmas
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We enjoyed chatting with other JMT and PCT hikers and I particularly took note of the advice I received from the legendary pct hiker, "cookiemonster", about Mt. Whitney. More on that later.

With a pack loaded up with new food and treats and bellies full of burgers and beer, we took to the trail on the very moderate ascent through Lyell Canyon. This place was beautiful!
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And the fishing was excellent for brookies and browns Image

The next morning would take us up one of our favorite passes of the trail......Donahue

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Once near the top, we enjoyed the view back down to where we had stayed the night before.Image

On the other side of the pass we were greeted by meandering streams, gorgeous lakes, hidden waterfalls, and mountain ranges still frosted with snow. Image
Some of the views you just had to stop and take it all in
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We settled on the edge of an incline out of Garnett and were treated to some awesome sunrise and sunset colors. Image

The next day brought us into Reds Meadow for our second resupply. The trail leading in was our least favorite of our 240 mile trip, but once we got back up near dear creek we were back in business.

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Here's a pic of one of the smaller ones I hope to catch again next year when he's a little bigger :D
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The fishing was awesome and we enjoyed a wonderful fish fry dinner that night and took care of a PCT'r that had contracted giardia (wasn't filtering). The young kid, skyler, was hanging tough and after some water and some delicious fresh fish felt good enough to tell us about a famous hiker who was doing a yo-yo PCT hike. Apparently all this dude ate for the 5300 miles were snickers bars. For some reason my freeze dried beef stroganoff was extra delightful that evening.

The following day would take us by Duck, Purple, and Virginia Lakes. Lets just say the fishing was pretty dang good in this region
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Oh yea....
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After a day of marvelous fishing, we hit the trail and were convinced by a flurry of PCT hikers to not miss VVR, even though we didn't have a resupply planned there. After talking it over, we decided it would do our heads, feet, and bellies good to stop for just the evening. So with that in mind, we made good time on our way down to tully holeImage

And up and over Silver pass

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We finally approached Edison. With the low water year, the water taxi was a bit of a hike.....maybe a mile. It was kinda eerie Image
But once there we were treated to a shower, a few beers (first one is free!!), great service, and a killer meal Image

We enjoyed the camaraderie with all the hikers, had the privilege of attending a ranger talk in the evening, and I got to play the cook's guitar (with two others that had a ukelele and banjo) a little bit around the campfire before an american idol hopeful hiker tore into a solo 60 minute performance where he was certainly his biggest fan. But that's another story.

Back on the trail the next morning, we opted to stay with the traditional JMT route and head back to the other side of Edison and march up the dreaded switchbacks that would take us into an area we both had highly anticipated. Bear Creek did not disappoint from a scenic and fishing standpoint.

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After enjoying an evening of fine fishing and utter beauty, we pounded down the trail and briefly considered a turn off to Heart Lake.
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However, persuaded by trail reports of great fishing, we continued on to this iconic set of lakes.
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Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
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We even had fun chasing them in the outlet.
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We would stay here for two nights and have a blast. We would then head down to MTR to get our re-supply (120 miles to go), meet up with Carolyn (Derek's wife), who would join us for the 2nd half of the adventure. The big mountain scenery is next.

More to come.......



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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby Marinpaul » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:59 pm

Absolutely tremendous! Can't wait for part two.
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby Vaca Russ » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:26 am

Marinpaul wrote:Absolutely tremendous! Can't wait for part two.


Exactly, I see you are on line. I hope you are writing up Part 2!! :) :D

Thanks,

-Russ
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby sekihiker » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:32 am

What a great trip and report. Great fish pics. Awesome scenery photos.Thanks for posting. Can't wait for the next installment.
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:04 am

LOVE IT! Keep it coming! Thanks for your first installment.

--F.G. Dave
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Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby texan » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:06 am

Awesome TR and I like the fishing reports. Thanks for sharing.

Texan
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby ChasingRainbows » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:59 am

Nice report and pictures! I always wondered how hybridized the cuts in that stream were, not much by the looks of those fish!
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:14 pm

Beautiful TR and pictures Ladd, definitely worth the wait and looking forward to
the next installment! :)
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby Electra » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:05 pm

Ditto! Great stuff, keep to coming. Amazing colors on those fish....
Dan Braun
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:13 pm

What a terrific hiking and fishing odyssey. Part 1 is so great I can't wait to see part 2.
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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Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby Bluewater » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:27 pm

Awesome way to enjoy the JMT. Thanks for the trip report and photos, it all takes me right back.
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 1)

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:19 pm

Wonderful read and photos. I'm also looking forward to Part 2.
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