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Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

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Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby DriveFly44 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:55 pm

We pick up with our hike down to Muir Trail Ranch on a calm, cool morning. It was a leisurely descent.
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Once there, we met up with Carolyn and fetched our 20 pound resupply bucket we had mailed the day before we left which would hold our food for the next 120 miles.

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On our way out, I slid into blaney hot springs for a quick moment.
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We headed down the trail and really took in the brilliance of the San Joaquin river (regret - didn't fish......I'll be back though!)

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We decided to push on up with the intent to settle at Evolution Meadow. Up the switchbacks brought us along the sparkling waters of evolution creek.
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The next day, we hiked through McClure Meadow

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And had a little fun fishing for small goldies in evolution creek with the hermit peering through the trees.

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Another few hours we arrive at Evolution Lake

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The fishing was quite good here too.

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We relaxed, had lunch, and hiked up to saphire lake for the evening. I had heard if you hike down (about 200 feet) near the inlet and cross, there are some neat campsites on the 'peninsula' part of the lake. It was certainly worth the effort.
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We rose early and prepared for our ascent up Muir pass, which was one of the easier of the trip. However, it was sure beautiful. Looking back at Wanda and McDermand.

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Muir Hut

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We descended from there through the headwaters of the middle fork of the kings. This was a really cool part of the trail with all kinds of small lakes and cascades crossing the trail in all directions.

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We continued on through LeConte Canyon and settled just short of grouse meadow. The evening fishing was wonderful (good job on the fish fry Carolyn!) and the next morning I took a few moment to take in the view from our camp.

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Then we hit the trail and enjoyed this meadow's peace and serenity.

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Derek and I, for the previous 90 miles or so, had been talking about this next day. Much of my reading and correspondence with others about the JMT indicated that although the whole trail was very special, there were a few places that were beyond words. This would be one of them.

As we climbed the awesome trail portion up the golden staircase , we had high hopes of what would be around the corner. The climb lasted much longer that we had anticipated, but we all know that's always the case! However, when we arrived I was blown away. This place, lower palisade, was pure magic.

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I was in awe and struggled with how a place can have such natural beauty and power. As we reveled on our perch above the lake and trail for a while, the afternoon then brought us some much needed lounging, fishing (mostly outlet), and at least for the first time for me, a 20 minute nap. As I awoke and looked to the sky, there was an indication of what the weather pattern would be for the next 3-4 days of our trip. As I prepared my dinner, I watched the clouds to the west overwhelm the evening sun.
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As it got darker, the three of us were a little disappointed that the sierra light show would not be making an appearance tonight. With the setting and backdrop of our campsite, it would be have been really special! We settled into our tent for the night and I began writing in my journal documenting the days travels and events. As I finished up and laid my head down, I lifted up to adjust the zipper on my tent and had one of those moments. I yelled to Derek and Carolyn to come out of their tents and then I snapped this photo.

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It only lasted about two minutes, and feel lucky to have had this special moment in time.

That night brought very high winds that had me clutching at my tent poles at times, although not enough to regret camping on this remarkable exposed campsite ;)

The following day we headed up Mather pass and took in the view back to the palisade lakes.
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On the pass looking down to upper basin and the south fork of the kings. Image

I enjoyed some fishing in the kings, and found many willing takers on my e/c cutter caddis.
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We marched on to Bench Lake, which I had highly anticipated from a photgraphy and fishing standpoint. However, this is when the weather would turn a bit nasty. I was only able to document this side trip with one pic before it began to dump.
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It rained all night and we struggled to dry out our gear in the morning but were very excited about the hiking/fishing prospects of this next day despite the threatening weather.

Back on the trail and past lake majorie, we went up Pinchot pass. Now this is where it gets interesting. Prior to my hike I had consulted with some of our esteemed members about fishing spots along the trail. My buddy Windknot had given me a suggestion about this area so I was highly anticipating its potential. Now if any of you know or have hiked with Windknot, you can skip this part. But for the benefit of others, I have developed a three step process for when he either gives you advice or invites you to hike with him.

Step 1: Thoroughly evaluate the hike elevation, mileage, & terrain
Step 2: Repeat step one
Step 3: Put your big boy pants on.

So with a little off-trail adventure, we headed for these unnamed lakes. We probably didn't take the best route and cut the corner sharp as it got very steep and hairy. I continued as Derek and Carolyn found a less treacherous way down. I didn't head up to the highest lake (I will return though) but arrived at the second highest one after some careful big boulder scrambling from the backside. When I got there, I knew right away that this place would rock!!

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And it did, thanks Windknot :D

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As the weather worsened, we decided to return to the trail and head down to the woods creek/baxter creek junction. It was a long 4-5 miles but sure was beautiful.

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We finally arrived before dark and set up camp. Derek had to perform a little maintenance on his feet as our mileage and off trail trips were beginning to take its toll.
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But he's a stud and would continue without one word of complaint. Carolyn had them too and would show amazing resiliency and toughness through all of this.

Bright and early we were on our way in hopes to conquer Glen Pass. On our way up towards Rae lakes, we continued to be treated to some awesome views.
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Fin Dome
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At Rae Lakes, we took a break in preparation for Glen Pass. I decided this would be the place where I would use a very special fly. As I shared in one of my previous TR's before this trip, my best buddy laker my chocolate lab, passed away on May 31st. On his last day, although extremely difficult, I shaved and kept a large portion of his beautiful dark brown coat. I've mixed some of it with hare's ear dubbing and have tied a number of flies to use in his honor. On my second cast at Rae, I landed the most special fish of my life.
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It worked like a charm and after 5-6 more, I retired it to my hat.
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It was a very cool moment for me and certainly made me feel like he was with me on this trip.

After a bite to eat, we went up and over Glen Pass and down toward Vidette Meadow. Just after the junction to Frog Lake, I almost walked off the trail when I looked in the distance. I just stood there in awe and evenutally brought out my camera to take a pic of one of my favorite views of the JMT - East Vidette and Bubbs Creek drainage.

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We then found a nice spot along Bubbs to stay for the night in preparation for the next days climb. This creek was really scenic.

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We awoke with knowing this would be a challenging day. Forrester pass can certainly take your breath away in more ways than one.

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The other side of the pass with the trail on left.

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We camped at Tyndall and the fishing was good for brookies and goldens.
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The next morning after a mile or so hike, we stashed our packs off the trail and headed up to Wright Lakes basin (future spot of 2014 HST pow wow). We fished only one lake but had a blast. Derek landed in my opinion the most beautiful fish of the trip.

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And I was able to hook a few as well.

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After an hour and a half of fishing, we decided to return to our packs and continue the trek over to Guitar Lake, which would be our last night of this adventure. It was somewhat of a social gathering here as it is the last spot on the west side to camp before summiting Whitney. The range of light gave us one last show as we hit the sack early.
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The purpose of this early retire was in preparation for our final day.......which brings us back to 'cookiemonster' who I referenced in Part 1. He had one bit of advice for us on the last day of our trip. Wake up at 1AM, put on our headlamps, and climb up Whitney so we would watch the sunrise at 5:45. And that's what we did.

It was an amazing climb in the morning and didn't need our headlamps at times due to the moonlight. We dropped our packs at trail crest and continued up the 1.9 miles to the summit. As I got closer, it was a bit emotional as this long term goal I had dreamed about for so many years was about to come true. As I turned and headed up for the summit, I was watching for the top of the hut to signify the termination of our JMT hike. It began to come into view as I slowed my pace and took in the last few steps of this special moment. The end of the trail.

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As I stepped up the the highest point, I had a beautiful view to the east mountain ranges and the faint lights of lone pine. It was 5:30am.

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A few minutes later, the most beautiful sunrise of my 40 years.

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We took it all in for a bit, and then decided it would be best to head down as in the distance there was a storming rolling in with lightning about 15 or so miles away. I snapped a few coming of the summit with the brilliant morning light shining on the ridges of Whitney.
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Guitar Lake and beyond.

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I was able to make it down mostly ahead of the storm and after 3 and a half hours, I was at the portal enjoying a cold beverage and a monster burger trying to fathom what we had just experienced over the last three and a half weeks. What a trip and one that I will remember forever :)

A special thanks to my buddy Derek (venturefar) who showed amazing strength and true friendship in many ways during this trek. His wife carolyn was a pleasure to have on the second part of the trail and added lots of enjoyment for both of us.

Thanks for reading.


Ladd

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Last edited by DriveFly44 on Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:24 pm

Fantastic second installment to an already great first one. Ouch on the heels!
Beautiful sunrise on Whitney, and sunset at the Palisade Lakes. Thanks.
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: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby copeg » Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:33 pm

Thanks for bringing back the memories of my JMT hike years ago with these trip reports. Love that pic of sunrise on Whitney.
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:53 pm

Beautiful report, including your dedication to Laker. What a wonderful trip.
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: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby TahoeJeff » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:03 pm

Trip of a lifetime! Awesome report, beautiful scenery and great trout fishing!
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby caddis » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:42 pm

Best trail report(s) I've read in a while
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:03 pm

By the way Ladd, what was the largest trout you all caught on this trip, and where?
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: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby The Other Tom » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:51 pm

Great pics from the top of Whitney. Beautiful. Thanks for posting.
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby sekihiker » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:02 pm

Not only are you an accomplished fisherman, you are an outstanding photographer. Thanks!
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby texan » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:59 pm

Your report makes me want to go the mountains right now!!!! Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby cloudlesssky » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:15 pm

Thanks for the great report and the AWESOME pictures. The colors are so vibrant! Really took me back to this time last year. Again thanks!
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Re: Thru Hiking/Fishing the John Muir Trail (Part 2)

Postby DriveFly44 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:11 pm

maverick wrote:By the way Ladd, what was the largest trout you all caught on this trip, and where?

Hey Mav....largest trout I hooked or landed? :D Haha, I would say the lake to the southwest of Pinchot Pass (small, unnamed) was really good to us. The other would be Virginia. Derek hooked a beauty there and I stuck one that was very heavy and peeling line. Probably one of my biggest back-country fish........but I never saw it as it came off after 15 seconds or so.

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