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Rock Creek Message Board => Eastern Sierra Fishing => Topic started by: wshawkins on February 26, 2018, 06:44:49 AM

Title: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 26, 2018, 06:44:49 AM
The Palisades


I took this fun backpacking trip back in Late August 2017 over a long weekend.  The weather was great with 75* F days and in the low 50’s at night with thunder showers in the late afternoon.  My goal was to fish all the Big Pine lakes on the Big Pine Creek North Fork trail, then taking the Black Lake Loop trail to Summit and Black Lakes to complete the loop.  It turned out to be a wonderful fishing trip!  This area is simply known as “The Palisades”.

The Palisades, which follows the valley of Big Pine Creek, are beneath some of the highest peaks in the Eastern Sierra including 14,242 foot North Palisade, the 4th tallest in the state.  Ahead lie over many glacial lakes, numerous cascades and crags, plus several glaciers, one of which is both the southernmost in the US and the largest in the Sierra Nevada.


The Palisades

(https://i.imgur.com/Ps1H3sn.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on February 26, 2018, 07:23:07 AM
Always thought about a horse pack trip to Black Lake but never made it. Hope to see some photos.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: P A C on February 26, 2018, 09:49:45 AM
WSH,

As always, looking forward to your trip report, and in particular this area as I have been very interested and curious about it for many years, but never made the hike up canyon past the Lon Chaney Cabin, which you wonderfully chronicled in a post a couple of years back.

Thanks in advance for what I am confident will be a great TR! :clap:

All the Best!  PAC
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 26, 2018, 05:07:33 PM
Always thought about a horse pack trip to Black Lake but never made it. Hope to see some photos.


Black Lake was a joy to fish and has nice tree shaded (and out of the wind) campsites around the lake.  Also Black Lake is only about ¼ mile away from Summit Lake which I highly recommend for fishing.  Glacier Pack Train is the local Pack Station for the Big Pine Lake Region.  Plenty of photos to share.  :hiking2:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 26, 2018, 05:08:22 PM
WSH,

As always, looking forward to your trip report, and in particular this area as I have been very interested and curious about it for many years, but never made the hike up canyon past the Lon Chaney Cabin, which you wonderfully chronicled in a post a couple of years back.

Thanks in advance for what I am confident will be a great TR! :clap:

All the Best!  PAC


I stopped for lunch break at Lon Chaney Cabin on this trip.  So glad the Forrest Service did not tear down this beautifully historic built cabin.  Did a little fishing in the creek at Lon Chaney cabin!  I’ll share that shortly. :fishing3:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 27, 2018, 06:46:49 AM
The Palisades


To get to the trailhead to the Palisades, take 395 to Big Pine.  Head west on W Crocker Street which turns into Glacier Lodge Rd for 11 miles, climbing steadily alongside the creek.  The road passes several national forest campgrounds, an area for overnight hiker’s trailhead parking, and then ends at a day-use parking area by a junction. Left is a side road to Glacier Lodge.  The Big Pine Creek trail starts here.


Big Pine Creek Trailhead – Day 1
(https://i.imgur.com/pkC0eEr.jpg)


Big Pine Creek
(https://i.imgur.com/Qq38q3Q.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 27, 2018, 06:52:25 AM
The Palisades


You first walk along the stream for a short distance, over a footbridge (First Falls) then through a patch of woodland to a junction. Turning right, the path switchbacks up the hillside dividing the two branches of the creek and enter North Fork canyon, where it crosses the stream a second time and begins to climb the exposed, treeless, north side of the valley.


Footbridge at First Falls
(https://i.imgur.com/aLKuPfa.jpg)


Trail Junction
(https://i.imgur.com/28bAidR.jpg)


Second Bridge
(https://i.imgur.com/L1EkPPo.jpg)


Big Pine Creek
(https://i.imgur.com/pIfnxWK.jpg)


Along the Trail
(https://i.imgur.com/UxNR8Ck.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: Gypsy Wind on February 27, 2018, 09:33:48 AM
Your reports are always an inspiration. Especially looking forward to this one since I recently acquired accommodation in Big Pine and hoping to explore this area this year. Keep the reports coming.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 27, 2018, 04:26:33 PM
Your reports are always an inspiration. Especially looking forward to this one since I recently acquired accommodation in Big Pine and hoping to explore this area this year. Keep the reports coming.


Thanks Gypsy Wind!  Been going up to Big Pine Lakes since my dad took me on a backpacking trip back when I was 12-13 years old.  He loved to camp at 4th or 5th lakes, and then hike and fish lakes 6th and 7th when they used to have goldens (Now a mountain yellow-legged frog habitat).  Now I usually head up there about every 5 years or so. 

Fishing is great up there (at least for me ( ;D).  But you’ll get distracted with all the great vistas.  I’m also a history buff, so I’ll cover what used to be there and what still is.  Hopefully you’ll find that interesting.  If you get a chance to explore the area I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding. :hiking2:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 28, 2018, 06:57:43 AM
The Palisades


After another junction (Baker Creek Trail), the trail crosses a rocky area and rejoins Big Pine Creek just above a 100 foot cascade (Second Falls), a point that marks the boundary of the John Muir Wilderness. The trail from here is quite wooded, covered by a mixture of pine and aspen trees.



Baker Creek Junction
(https://i.imgur.com/JdftpOF.jpg)



Baker Creek Junction – Takes off to your left
(https://i.imgur.com/7QhGzjV.jpg)



Second Falls
(https://i.imgur.com/X3iATy1.jpg)



Second Falls
(https://i.imgur.com/GkPMKvt.jpg)



Top of Second Falls – A good place for rest stop
(https://i.imgur.com/QLK9sIU.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 28, 2018, 06:59:22 AM
The Palisades


After about 2 miles the trail passes a log cabin designed by Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams for actor Lon Chaney, set in a shady clearing beneath tall lodgepole pines.



Lon Chaney Cabin

(https://i.imgur.com/z6BijNq.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on February 28, 2018, 07:25:02 AM
Hauling the materials to construct the cabin must have been fun. A very scenic spot with the creek behind it.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on February 28, 2018, 04:13:47 PM
Hauling the materials to construct the cabin must have been fun. A very scenic spot with the creek behind it.


I’m thinking mules did the heavy hauling of materials.  The front of the cabin faces the creek under a covered porch.  Must of been like heaven to stay there! :fishing4:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: charlie on February 28, 2018, 05:32:54 PM
What memories. I love that cabin and have caught fish right next to it. Our last trip to the Sierra we spent  up BP Creek and went up on the glacier. Fish  galore!!!!!  (We also camped in snow at Chickenfoot and went over Mono Pass to fish Golden)  Somehow, we've gotten addicted to  backpacking in the Grand Canyon and haven't been back to the Sierra for a few years.  That's gotta change.  Our next trip after one more rim to rim to rim in the GC  already permitted for April, will be through the valley, over Morgan and up Pine Creek. Thanks, ws  for all the great photos and stories. For those of us who can't make it very often they're  highly valued.  We've been away from RC too long!!!!
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: Gary C. on March 01, 2018, 02:52:24 AM
It doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is everyone stops for a break at the cabin both going and coming back. Looking forward to the rest of you report. I've only been as far as the 4th lake and Sam Mack Meadow which is just beautiful.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 01, 2018, 07:10:38 AM
What memories. I love that cabin and have caught fish right next to it. Our last trip to the Sierra we spent  up BP Creek and went up on the glacier. Fish  galore!!!!!  (We also camped in snow at Chickenfoot and went over Mono Pass to fish Golden)  Somehow, we've gotten addicted to  backpacking in the Grand Canyon and haven't been back to the Sierra for a few years.  That's gotta change.  Our next trip after one more rim to rim to rim in the GC  already permitted for April, will be through the valley, over Morgan and up Pine Creek. Thanks, ws  for all the great photos and stories. For those of us who can't make it very often they're  highly valued.  We've been away from RC too long!!!!


Welcome back Charlie!  The fishing in Big Pine Creek was excellent, including at Lon Chaney’s Cabin and also below the 1st lake.  Fishing was also great around the Big Pine Lakes as you will soon see.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 01, 2018, 07:11:28 AM
It doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is everyone stops for a break at the cabin both going and coming back. Looking forward to the rest of you report. I've only been as far as the 4th lake and Sam Mack Meadow which is just beautiful.


Yeah, everybody stops for a break at the cabin.  Such a peaceful and tranquil spot.  Last time up here I hiked to Sam Mack Meadow and to the Glacier, tough but worthwhile hike.  This time I did the Big Pine Lakes loop with lots of fishing with a bit of historical exploring.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 01, 2018, 07:13:58 AM
The Palisades


This is an article from the LA TIMES from a few years back which sums up the story of Lon Chaney Cabin.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Actor Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Forest
The silent film star's stone cabin remains tucked away in the remote eastern Sierra.

You see it first as a greenish corrugated tin roof hidden in a grove of solid red lodgepole pines. A left fork off the main trail places you below a set of stone steps and a massive stone structure. The idea of such a trek is to get away from civilization. So if you aren't expecting what's coming, the 1,288-square-foot granite field stone structure suddenly out of the wilderness.

But the building is no ordinary structure. Nor does the U.S. Forest Service sign’s identifying it as a wilderness ranger cabin begin to explain it. Large locks secure the doors and wooden shutters bar the windows -- all contributing to an air of mystery that seems in keeping with the image of its original owner, Lon Chaney Sr. The actor who starred in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Phantom of the Opera," Chaney was referred to as "the man of a thousand faces," and for millions of moviegoers in the 1910s and 1920s was the personification of humanity within horror.

Chaney had the stone cabin built for $12,000 in 1929-30. It was designed by Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams, the first African American granted a fellowship in the American Institute of Architects. The Saks Fifth Avenue Building in Beverly Hills is an example of one of his public buildings. But Williams is best known for designing private homes, about 2,000 of them, for film celebrities, politicians and other famous people. According to Williams' granddaughter, Karen Hudson, the Chaney cabin was the only mountain cabin he designed.

Surrounded by steep canyon walls and located amid lodgepole pines in the Inyo National Forest, the cabin faces a creek. Wide stone steps lead up to the one-story rectangular building, its walls 2 feet thick and made of large granite rocks cemented together. There is a gable roof, now covered by corrugated metal, and overhanging 8-inch-thick lodgepole beams.

The interior is divided into one large room and a kitchen separated by a plank wall. There is tongue-in-groove pine flooring, and a granite fireplace in the main room. When Chaney owned the cabin, there was a mounted deer head above the fireplace and a bear rug on the floor. A kerosene lamp on a pulley provided light for the living area and the kitchen.

"Tonight I start out for the High Sierra. No shaving, no makeup, no interviews for four long, lazy weeks. We take a stove along and the wife cooks the fish I catch. We sleep under the pines and I try to climb high enough to reach the snows. Camping's the biggest kick in life for me," Chaney told a writer in 1928.

It was no accident that Chaney located the cabin near the Cienega Mirth section of Big Pine Creek, where it curves gently and flattens out. It is one of the best trout fishing spots in the area. Chaney was an ardent fly fisherman and early practitioner of catch and release who had escaped to the area for many years. He camped with his family near the site of the cabin long before he had it built. The glaciated canyon closely resembles the Colorado countryside around Pike's Peak, where Chaney, as a teenager, led tour groups up the mountain by burro. The fact that there was no road up Big Pine Canyon to the cabin for the last 1 1/2 miles must have appealed to Chaney. He hired pack trains to bring in supplies.

Chaney was to enjoy his cabin for only a few months before his death at age 47. His last trip to the cabin was with his wife, Hazel, in late July 1930. By that time, according to Michael F. Blake's book, "The Man Behind the Thousand Faces," Chaney's bronchial cancer was very advanced. His weakened state, combined with the cabin's 9,200-foot elevation, made it impossible for him to fish. Continuing hemorrhages forced him to return to Los Angeles, where he died Aug. 26.

The Chaney cabin was built under a government special use permit that allowed Chaney to own the structure while leasing the half-acre site from the federal government. The cabin was sold in 1932, and again in 1955. It reverted to the government in 1980 when the permit expired.

The Forest Service considered destroying the cabin to comply with the 1964 Wilderness Act, which calls for the restoration of natural conditions in wilderness areas. But the agency changed its mind when it became clear that the amount of dynamite required to demolish the massive stone structure would cause major damage to the surrounding trees.

Ultimately, the Forest Service decided that the cabin's historic value justified its preservation. In 1982, the agency proposed placing the cabin on the Register of Historic Places, but the application process was never completed. The cabin remains on the list of candidates for official designation.

Today, the cabin remains closed to the public, and is seldom used by the Forest Service for shelter or rescue operations. According to Linda Reynolds, a Forest Service historian, there is no money budgeted to maintain the cabin's interior, even though volunteer groups periodically monitor and maintain its exterior. Forest rangers are concerned that the cabin's roof might collapse under a heavy snow, despite the huge beams.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 01, 2018, 07:19:03 AM
The Palisades


More photos of the Lon Chaney’s Cabin……………




Lon Chaney’s Cabin

(https://i.imgur.com/qnhvA1N.jpg)


(https://i.imgur.com/h9mIqUI.jpg)


(https://i.imgur.com/px43CUG.jpg)


Custom 2 Seater

(https://i.imgur.com/PtsD68G.jpg)


Built 87 years ago.  Craftsmanship at its finest!
(https://i.imgur.com/UvDRADN.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 01, 2018, 07:21:33 AM
The Palisades



Also did a little fishing in the creek during my lunch break.  Caught this Brown Trout right in front of the Cabin!   The creek has Brookies, Rainbows and some Browns. 



Big Pine Creek right at front door!
(https://i.imgur.com/aJbDUkW.jpg)



Wild Brown Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/VvfUQJ8.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: P A C on March 01, 2018, 10:37:43 AM

I'm thinking mules did the heavy hauling of materials.  The front of the cabin faces the creek under a covered porch.  Must of been like heaven to stay there! :fishing4:


I recall reading years ago that Lon Chaney also had either an Upright or Baby Grand Piano hauled up there. 
The article alluded to apparently frequent, quite raucous and debauchery-filled parties in the woods at his cabin (despite the suggested, contrasting tone of 'getting away from it all' in the article posted above which I have also seen previously).

I recall that, according to the article,  to be invited to his place (the cabin) and one of his parties held there was considered quite the honor.
I wish I could locate the article and post it for reference.  Will keep looking for it as time permits. 

WSH - really enjoying this TR as always, looking forward to the next posts on this!

Al the Best!  P A C
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 02, 2018, 07:24:38 AM

I recall reading years ago that Lon Chaney also had either an Upright or Baby Grand Piano hauled up there. 
The article alluded to apparently frequent, quite raucous and debauchery-filled parties in the woods at his cabin (despite the suggested, contrasting tone of 'getting away from it all' in the article posted above which I have also seen previously).

I recall that, according to the article,  to be invited to his place (the cabin) and one of his parties held there was considered quite the honor.
I wish I could locate the article and post it for reference.  Will keep looking for it as time permits. 

WSH - really enjoying this TR as always, looking forward to the next posts on this!

Al the Best!  P A C


Upright or Baby Grand Piano?  I can’t even imagine how they got that up there to the cabin.  If you locate the article, please post it.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 02, 2018, 07:29:35 AM
The Palisades


After Lon Chaney’s cabin, the trail slowly gains elevation and the hiking are not bad.  The next junction, some 4 miles from the trailhead, marks the start of a loop past five of the lakes, and is best hiked in the clockwise direction since the remainder of the elevation gain (1,000 feet) is done gradually and the route is fairly shady.  Taking the right branch first involves a quite strenuous climb up an open, south-facing hillside with lots of elevation gain.  I went straight ahead:




Along the Trail - I can almost see The Palisades from the trail
(https://i.imgur.com/gWdxaO2.jpg)





Big Pine Creek
(https://i.imgur.com/9p98Lja.jpg)





First look at Temple Crag as seen from the Trail
(https://i.imgur.com/vJmjc3D.jpg)





Trail Junction
(https://i.imgur.com/QCHepEk.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 02, 2018, 07:31:46 AM
The Palisades



Walking along the left fork, the First Pine Creek Lake soon comes into view, set beneath the towering slopes of Temple Crag and Mt. Alice.  Like several others of the lakes this is filled with bright turquoise water, characteristic of glacial activity created by the grinding action of glaciers high above.




First Big Pine Lake

(https://i.imgur.com/PwYI6ed.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: RockToad on March 02, 2018, 01:32:17 PM
Incredible!!!  Thank you so much :clap:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 03, 2018, 07:23:29 AM
Incredible!!!  Thank you so much :clap:


You don’t see the lake until the last moment as your climbing up hill, and then it’s like a “wow moment” when you see the beautiful lakes turquoise water for the first time.  It’s one of those mandatory stops in the back-country! :hiking2:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 03, 2018, 07:26:04 AM
The Palisades


I set up camp just below First Big Pine Lake as I was feeling a bit of elevation sickness (It happens to me).  Took a couple of Tylenols, took a nap and ate a couple of power bars and I was good to go.  It was still early so ventured out to the first three lakes to see how the fishing was.



First Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/nIQ9Wwh.jpg)



First Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/147lHFJ.jpg)



First Big Pine Lake & Temple Crag
(https://i.imgur.com/HEzniXR.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 03, 2018, 07:29:24 AM
The Palisades


First Big Pine Lake contains Rainbows, Brookies and Browns.  Fishing was simply spectacular, especially for Rainbows.  Every other cast brought in a trout.  Caught three species at First Lake within 45 minutes!  Rainbows were in up to12”.  Brookies maybe 9-10”.  Browns were in the 20” plus range. 



Rainbows – Were Plentiful
(https://i.imgur.com/oHbcitw.jpg)



Rainbows
(https://i.imgur.com/gZkNzDD.jpg)



Brookie from First Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/4XBWcP1.jpg)



Browns Were Surprising Large this year!
(https://i.imgur.com/A4L30Sp.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on March 03, 2018, 01:38:28 PM
Great Pics!. Didn't realize there were large Browns in Lake 1. I only got as far as Lake 2 on a very exhausting day hike. Did catch a few small 'Bows and Brooks.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 04, 2018, 07:54:54 AM
Great Pics!. Didn't realize there were large Browns in Lake 1. I only got as far as Lake 2 on a very exhausting day hike. Did catch a few small 'Bows and Brooks.


Thanks bj!  Yeah there were always large Browns in 1st Lake, maybe still some left in 2nd lake too.  There usually very hard to catch and normally stay deep in the lake, but If the right conditions exist they will come up to feed, even mid-day.  This particular day had ideal conditions for Brown Trout fishing. :fishing3:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 05, 2018, 07:00:02 AM
The Palisades


Next, took the short hike from First Lake to Second Lake, the largest and one of the prettiest I believe.   The largest Browns have been caught within Second Big Pine Lake, with an 8Lb 12oz Brown caught there in 2003.  But no luck on the big Browns for me this time, but still fishing was very good on Brookies and Lahontan Cutthroats.




First Big Pine Lake and Temple Crag
(https://i.imgur.com/YbSP3Wq.jpg)



On my way to 2nd Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/3MlBHke.jpg)



2nd Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/1h2MO1x.jpg)



Second Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/kT2oQiC.jpg)



Brookie
(https://i.imgur.com/hU1Vwpj.jpg)



Lahontan Cutthroat
(https://i.imgur.com/YPkMr4D.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 06, 2018, 06:29:20 AM
The Palisades


Next was Third Lake, like the first two lakes this lake is filled with bright turquoise water but quite shallow.  Third Big Pine Lake held mostly smaller (6-9”) Rainbows and Brookies.



Third Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/rjePOD8.jpg)



Third Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/lHRT5I0.jpg)



Rainbow
(https://i.imgur.com/taPfYsD.jpg)



Brookie

(https://i.imgur.com/Lb6DsV1.jpg)



After fishing Third Big Pine Lake, went back to my camp site near First Lake, had dinner then fished some more near the First Big Pine Lake outlet until dark.  The last hour before dark the lake came alive with hundreds (maybe thousands!) of trout rising to feed.  What a sight to behold!




First Big Pine Lake – The Fishing Happy Hour, Just Before Sunset
(https://i.imgur.com/pFijUoG.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 06, 2018, 06:32:50 AM
The Palisades


The Upper Lakes – Day 2



After breakfast and morning fishing at First Big Pine Lake, I rejoin the trail that climbs quite high above the west shore of the first three lakes via a short but steep series of switchbacks, and leads on through the pine forest to a junction with a spur path to the base of Palisade Glacier.



Leaving 1st Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/88kZiUD.jpg)



Passing 2nd Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/PlKAB3S.jpg)




Leaving 3rd lake
(https://i.imgur.com/MK7oxGw.jpg)




View of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Lakes
(https://i.imgur.com/ZMCc2LV.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 07, 2018, 06:27:14 AM
The Palisades


Last time I backpacked the Palisades, I went to Palisades Glacier.  A difficult hike but well worth it if you have the stamina but this year access was difficult from Sam Mack Meadow to the Glacier due to lots of snow this year according to the backpackers I met.  This time it’s all about the fishing (mostly) so I’m heading toward 4th lake.



Along the Trail
(https://i.imgur.com/DgXoeJW.jpg)




Trail Junction – Palisade Glacier/Fourth Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/MCmjTeX.jpg)




Trail to Mack Meadows

(https://i.imgur.com/S4txQjq.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 07, 2018, 06:30:40 AM
The Palisades


The next fork you come up to is a four-way junction.  Here I’m continuing straight, and the path that very soon arrives at Fourth Big Pine Lake.  4th Lake is encircled by thick pine forest without the stark granite scenery of the earlier lakes and no turquoise water, just crystal clear alpine water.  This is where I set-up camp for my second night.  Very nice campsites available at fourth lake.



Fourth Big Pine Lake – Where I set up camp
(https://i.imgur.com/gMgZEQG.jpg)




Fishing is good for mostly Brookies and some Rainbows in Fourth Big Pine Lake. 





Fourth Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/9rgW3cd.jpg)




Brookie
(https://i.imgur.com/Opw1pPl.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 08, 2018, 06:36:33 AM
The Palisades


After I set-up my tent, I head NW cross-country and after a short descent I reach the shore of Fifth Big Pine Lake, perhaps the most impressive lake as it sits in a large granite bowl, enclosed on three sides by steep rocky slopes, and filled by deep, clear bright turquoise water.  The hike from 4th Lake to fifth Lake is maybe 0.2 miles, so a very easy hike.  5th Lake is one of the better fishing lakes too.


Fifth Big Pine Lake contains Brookies and Rainbows that run up to 12” for Brookies and up to 14” for Rainbows, decent size for a back-country lake. 




Trail Junction – To Fifth Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/VSfZV3o.jpg)



Fifth Big Pine Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/bgL2r9D.jpg)



Rainbow
(https://i.imgur.com/N3qMhWc.jpg)



Brookie
(https://i.imgur.com/wsqOks5.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 08, 2018, 06:39:53 AM
The Palisades


From 5th Lake, I head cross-country to 6th Lake and then on to 7th Lake.  It’s only about 1 mile from 4th Lake to 7th Lake following the North Fork Big Pine Creek that ties these lakes together.  The 6th and 7th Lakes are fishless, so I’m only here for the beauty of these pristine lakes.  6th and 7th Lakes used to hold Goldens, but the trout have been removed from these lakes due to the Yellow-legged Frog program.



Fifth Big Pine Lake – Heading to 6th and 7th Lakes
(https://i.imgur.com/w2yfzIh.jpg)



Cross-Country Route to 6th Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/zrbOytf.jpg)



Sixth Big Pine Lake

(https://i.imgur.com/OgZe6YA.jpg)



There is actually a trail to 6th and 7th Big Pine Lakes if cross-country travel is not your thing.  It’s a little difficult to find and the sign leans a bit, but it’s there.




6th & 7th Big Pine Lakes Trail Sign
(https://i.imgur.com/PVMBD8k.png)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 09, 2018, 06:54:48 AM
The Palisades



Upper Lakes and Historical Tour – Day 3


I always find it fascinating what we humans will build way out in the boonies if money and time are no objects.  So I’ll start with the Upper Camp, which was located above fourth Big Pine Lake overlooking The Palisades.  This was provided and maintained by Glacier Lodge allowing first class tent camping with full cooked meals, horses for the guests and so on.  This was first class service in its day.




Frashers Photo of Upper Camp Overlooking the Palisades (about 1930)

(https://i.imgur.com/F4VtIsf.jpg)



Eventually, Glacier Lodge built a Fourth Lake Lodge (also known as Upper Glacier Lodge) and stone cabins in the same location where the tents were set-up.  Upper Glacier Lodge was mostly made from granite rock found nearby, allowed guests a much nicer lodging experience.  The stone lodge and eight stone cabins were built in the 1920s.




Fourth Lake Lodge (From Postcard)
(https://i.imgur.com/1icK71z.jpg)



Looking out of the dining room towards the Palisades in Fourth Lake Lodge (From Postcard)
(https://i.imgur.com/2qsJLdz.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 09, 2018, 06:58:25 AM
The Palisades



The Upper Lodge was located on the north side of Fourth Lake on a large granite cliff facing south towards The Palisades.  Easy to locate as this large area is level and now a favorite camp spot for large groups.



Upper Lodge Location

(https://i.imgur.com/0ElaSvi.jpg)



With the implementation of the 1964 Wilderness Act, which calls for the restoration of natural conditions in wilderness areas, The Forest Service dynamited the Upper Lodge and all the stone cabins and other structures.  You can still see the blast marks on the resulting rubble.  You can see why Glacier Lodge built here, the views are incredible!



Rubble from Upper Lodge site
(https://i.imgur.com/sIQwD2s.jpg)



Fourth Big Pine Lake looking towards the Palisades from Upper Lodge Site
(https://i.imgur.com/SFhSdad.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: Gypsy Wind on March 09, 2018, 09:29:34 AM
Great pics of some fantastic scenery, please keep them coming. Love the history too.
I get the impression there is a lot of elevation gain on this trail, is it mostly uphill or combination up and down and back up?
How far could one go on a comfortable day hike (maybe ten hours, 3 hours fishing)?
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 09, 2018, 11:41:41 AM
Thanks Gypsy Wind!  This is a steep and rocky trail and all uphill.  There are a few creek crossings that can run pretty high depending on the season.  The first half of this trail is fully exposed and can be very hot in the summer, so hit the trail early if it’s a hot sunny day.

As for elevation gain, its 2280 ft. to 1st Lake, 2350 ft. to 2nd lake and about 2800 ft. to 3rd Lake.  I usually shoot for 2nd Lake at the dam & bypass gate on day hikes and start fishing there then hike down to 1st Lake later on.

As for hiking times to the lakes, that varies with each individual.  If I’m by myself, its 2 hours up and 1 ½ hours back.  If with friends or family, figure 3 hours hike up and about 2 hours back to the trailhead for a comfortable hike for all.  3 hours fishing is about what I average, 1 hour at 2nd Lake and 2 hours at 1st Lake.  The rest of the time I’m exploring, resting or eating lunch.  Hope this helps.




Dam & Bypass Gate @ 2nd Lake – Interesting to look around here and good place to start fishing!

(https://i.imgur.com/qIw9kOU.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 10, 2018, 07:15:53 AM
The Palisades


Also built nearby what was the so called “Movie Set”, built in the 1920’s.  Still partial standing today, several movies was made in the day from this stone Lodge/Cabin.  Upper Lodge from above was also used in several movies.  No ideal why the Forest Service didn’t dynamite this structure?



Movie Set Remains 
(https://i.imgur.com/WZVhL4p.jpg)



Movie Set Remains 

(https://i.imgur.com/VPcIqfq.jpg)



Also have a “Frashers Photo” from 1926 and photo from me from 2017, 91 years later so you can see the changes over the years.



“Movie Set” from Frashers Photo 1926
(https://i.imgur.com/vf3NU5Q.jpg)



“Movie Set” remains from 2017

(https://i.imgur.com/KdBsisU.jpg)



Next I’ll heading to Summit and Black Lakes…………………………………..



Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 12, 2018, 07:29:00 AM
The Palisades


Summit and Black Lakes Then Going Home – Day 4


On my final day in the Big Pine Lakes Basin, I packed up and traveled to Summit Lake.  This lake feels like the least frequently visited lake in the whole area, primarily because it is fairly high up the mountain on its own unmarked side trail. I thought the views from Summit Lake were some of the best of my trip.



Summit Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/vVJZbpa.jpg)




Summit Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/WULN30p.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 12, 2018, 07:31:24 AM
The Palisades


What’s really special about Summit Lake for the fishermen is that it holds the elusive beautiful Golden Trout.  Not easy to catch but worth the effort!




Summit Lake Golden Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/giZ9TyS.jpg)




Summit Lake Golden Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/NKcHwuV.jpg)




Summit Lake Golden Trout

(https://i.imgur.com/ASBe7ml.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: damer419 on March 12, 2018, 01:26:33 PM
Spectacular read! Thank you so much for sharing :clap: :clap: :clap:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 13, 2018, 07:05:42 AM
Spectacular read! Thank you so much for sharing :clap: :clap: :clap:


Thanks damer419!  It was a spectacular trip.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 13, 2018, 07:08:03 AM
The Palisades


Summit Lake is where the official path ends.  Strangely, there is no trail from Summit Lake to Black Lake.  But it’s only a ¼ mile away reached cross-country by following Summit Lake’s outlet creek to Black Lake.


Looking down from Summit Lake, it’s easy to see how Black Lake got its name.




Black Lake from Outlet of Summit Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/xj67u73.jpg)




Black Lake is also beautify tree-lined and quite sheltered, which was nice as the winds did kick up some.  The northern edge of the lake is bordered by the smooth and more open slopes of a ridge extending east from the Inconsolable Range. 





Black Lake
(https://i.imgur.com/WHSIYMk.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 13, 2018, 07:11:12 AM
The Palisades


The reason I love to fish Black Lake is for the Brown Trout.  They’re not huge (about 13-14”), but plentiful.  Easily caught double figures Browns in Black Lake.  A real fishermen’s paradise if you enjoy catching Brown Trout!




Black Lake Brown Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/kDAjbRs.jpg)





Black Lake Brown Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/wtpgu0W.jpg)





Black Lake Brown Trout

(https://i.imgur.com/X62bxJb.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: Stream Fisher on March 13, 2018, 03:45:09 PM
Awesome Pictures
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 14, 2018, 06:27:10 AM
Awesome Pictures


Thanks Stream Fisher!  Hard to take a bad picture in The Palisades.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 14, 2018, 06:35:57 AM
The Palisades


Last Post – Hike Back to Trailhead


After slaying the trout in Black Lake, it was time to head down the trail.  Past Black Lake the path leaves the shade of the trees and begins the sharp descent back to the head of the main canyon, near First Lake.  I would hate to hike up this trail as its real steep.  Less than 2 hours later I was back to the Trailhead and to my truck and my backpacking trip was history.


Black Lake Loop Trail
(https://i.imgur.com/gFvFcts.jpg)



Trail down Black Lake Loop Trail looking down at Big Pine Lakes #1 & #2

(https://i.imgur.com/1KXDySs.jpg)



My favorite trip for 2017, best fishing trip (Over 100+ trout plus 5 different species caught plus a few odd Hybrids) and loved the warm weather (Shorts and t-shirt most days), light jacket during afternoon showers and chilly but sleep good weather at night.  As for crowds, there were none.  After leaving 3rd Big Pine Lake, I didn’t see another single person until back to my truck.  The way your backcountry experience should be.


One last photo…….Standing on the northern side of Big Pine Basin, visitors are given a spectacular view of the Palisade Glacier and surrounding peaks framed perfectly right above the lake.  These impressive peaks viewed from this photo from left to right are: 
Temple Crag 12,976 ft, Mount Gayley 13,510 ft, Mount Sil 14,153 ft, North Palisades 14,242 ft, Thunderbolt Peak 14,003 ft, Mount Robinson 12,967 ft, Mount Winchell 13,775 ft and Mount Agassiz 13,892 ft.



The Palisades – Zoom Photo
(https://i.imgur.com/7PtSE3v.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on March 14, 2018, 07:13:55 AM
Outstanding report! I finally got to Black Lake. :clap:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 14, 2018, 11:02:30 AM
Outstanding report! I finally got to Black Lake. :clap:


Thanks bj!  Black Lake was a joy to fish.  You could possibly day hike to Black Lake, but the final mile has a tough 1,000 ft. elevation gain.   :hiking2: :fishing3:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on March 14, 2018, 02:29:59 PM
Maybe in the old days, Ha!
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 16, 2018, 10:35:10 AM
The Palisades


One last post for the fishing in the Big Pine Lakes.  What’s unique in the Palisades is the opportunity of catching five different species of trout!  Very few places like this exist.  Many of the trout species also had varied color patterns and add to that the many hybrid trout you can catch in this valley.  Some hybrids were very unusual and one was somewhat rare.  Thought I would share some of the photos I took of them. 

Feel free to speak out if you think you know what species or hybrid they are .  Others may disagree, but it’s all in good fun.  Any guesses of what they might be???



Trout:
Very common trout but many get it wrong due to the spots and bright belly.  Check out the different colors of the same species of trout.
#1a   Trout?   
(https://i.imgur.com/Opw1pPl.jpg)



#1b   Trout   
(https://i.imgur.com/wsqOks5.jpg)



Love the colors on this one!
#1c   Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/DIFwdNE.jpg?1)




Very common trout and a favorite for many fishermen/women.  Also comes in many different variations.
#2a   Trout?   
(https://i.imgur.com/oHbcitw.jpg)



#2b   Trout?
(https://i.imgur.com/Z6Kd8pi.jpg)



#2c   Trout?
(https://i.imgur.com/DS0M90n.jpg)




Many get this trout wrong.  This is an adolescent trout so don’t have the adult markings yet.
#3    Trout?
(https://i.imgur.com/i26DFxW.jpg)




This trout gets confused with #1 a lot.  The color usually will darken with age.
#4a   Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/QQMKAWs.jpg)



Light Colored
#4b   Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/oh8zYtK.jpg?1)



Adult Trout
#4c   Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/wY1Ybyv.jpg?1)




My favorite trout to catch and possible the most colorful.  Many variations to this trout too.
#5a   Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/lKRPb5e.jpg)



#5b
(https://i.imgur.com/8P4QB2W.jpg)



The smallest one I ever caught, maybe 3” but still has great color.
#5c
(https://i.imgur.com/hllwnvO.jpg)




Hybrids:
Very common hybrid, usually in lakes above 10,000 feet.  This is an excellent example with being 50/50 with great colors.
#6   Hybrid Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/lechmjj.jpg)



Any guesses on this hybrid?
#7   Hybrid Trout
(https://i.imgur.com/trcOYz0.jpg)



First one of these I caught in theses lakes and only the third one caught in the last decade. 
#8   Hybrid Trout

(https://i.imgur.com/ykJv0Qx.jpg)






That’s it for now.  As you can see the trout variety is endless in The Palisades.  Take a guess if you like or just enjoy the photos at your leisure.  No Pressure, this is all in fun!  Heading to the Hawaii Islands for a family vacation soon and in June will be my first Eastern Sierra trip that’s planned.  I have some great (I hope) trips planned for summer and fall 2018 too.  Best Regards!


Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on March 16, 2018, 12:04:22 PM
My Guesses are:

1-Brook
2-Bow
3-Cutt
4-Brown
5-Golden
6-Golden/bow
7-?
8-??
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: P A C on March 16, 2018, 01:05:30 PM
WSH - WONDERFUL completed post and great follow up addition with the photos of the gorgeous fish found in the area!  Thank You!

I'm with BJ on his selections.

My additional guesses:

7 - A darker/stream-based Rainbow/Golden Hybrid or even possibly a Kern River Rainbow/Golden ( based on the profusion of black spots as well as Parr Marks, yet with the white tipped fins not normally found on Rainbows)

8 - the unique and 'relatively new' TIGER Trout - a Brown/Eastern Brook Hybrid primarily bred in hatcheries over the past 30+ years.  They are sterile, and are the combination of of male brook trout milt with female brown trout eggs. 

PS - I keep searching for the story about a Piano being hauled in to the LC Cabin.  I know I saw it somewhere in the past - maybe it was in an old article in a document somewhere up in the actual Big Pine Area, like at the Glacier Lodge or Pack Station or other place of business, or in some other old marketing brochure for the area.  I am now on a mission to find it.  I recall a hand drawn picture supporting the story with an image of LC  appearing as if dressed in one of his costume roles and with a 'monstrous facial expression', standing up, playing the Piano with an audience of 2 or 3. 

Thank you again for sharing your journeys and experiences with us. :clap:

All the Best!  P A C
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: bj on March 16, 2018, 04:11:57 PM
Was it Tiger trout they were playing with at the little reservoir near Kirman Lake out of Bridgeport? It was dry the last time I was there.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: P A C on March 16, 2018, 05:22:24 PM
I'm not aware of that, but would love to learn more if that is/was happening.

I do know the former DFG attempted to establish a Grayling habitat and population in 'nearby' Lobdell Lake - however it was unsustainable due to the drought, as you refer to, which makes me wonder if that is the lake and fish you might be thinking of. (?)

All the Best.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 16, 2018, 10:10:26 PM
My Guesses are:

1-Brook
2-Bow
3-Cutt
4-Brown
5-Golden
6-Golden/bow
7-?
8-??


Nailed the first 6 guesses.  Thought that Cutt might throw you off bj.  Nicely done!
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 16, 2018, 10:11:18 PM
WSH - WONDERFUL completed post and great follow up addition with the photos of the gorgeous fish found in the area!  Thank You!

I'm with BJ on his selections.

My additional guesses:

7 - A darker/stream-based Rainbow/Golden Hybrid or even possibly a Kern River Rainbow/Golden ( based on the profusion of black spots as well as Parr Marks, yet with the white tipped fins not normally found on Rainbows)

8 - the unique and 'relatively new' TIGER Trout - a Brown/Eastern Brook Hybrid primarily bred in hatcheries over the past 30+ years.  They are sterile, and are the combination of of male brook trout milt with female brown trout eggs. 

PS - I keep searching for the story about a Piano being hauled in to the LC Cabin.  I know I saw it somewhere in the past - maybe it was in an old article in a document somewhere up in the actual Big Pine Area, like at the Glacier Lodge or Pack Station or other place of business, or in some other old marketing brochure for the area.  I am now on a mission to find it.  I recall a hand drawn picture supporting the story with an image of LC  appearing as if dressed in one of his costume roles and with a 'monstrous facial expression', standing up, playing the Piano with an audience of 2 or 3. 

Thank you again for sharing your journeys and experiences with us. :clap:

All the Best!  P A C


Very impressive P A C!  #7 is a Rainbow/Golden Hybrid.  There are so many variations of this hybrid, just depends what % is Rainbow and Golden.

#8 is indeed the Tiger Trout!  Rare in the backcountry.  This was caught in Black Lake, full of Browns and Brookies.  This Tiger Trout was a very aggressive fighter.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 16, 2018, 10:12:37 PM
Was it Tiger trout they were playing with at the little reservoir near Kirman Lake out of Bridgeport? It was dry the last time I was there.


Have not heard of that one bj.  Kirman Lake is one of the best trophy trout fisheries in California.  Football sized Brookies when I fished it last in 2016.  Nice Cutthroats too.  But being as Tiger Trout are sterile, that could make it interesting! 

There was talk of Kirman Lake being managed as a fishery for triploid rainbows gleamed from another Board, but looking at CDFW latest fish plants still shows Kirman as Brookies and Cutthroats, so don’t know for sure what’s happening there.

But Fish Springs Hatchery was experimenting with cross breeding these two species some years back to breed the Tiger Trout.  But to my knowledge they never were stocked locally.  They are raised in other states, with Utah and Colorado coming to mind.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: 12440 on March 20, 2018, 11:59:06 AM
What an excellent post! Really enjoyed reading and re-reading the entire post! I have never been to that part of the Sierras!  Thanks so much for sharing. And did I mention what an excellent post it was?
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: fishdad on March 20, 2018, 09:46:22 PM
Great post thank you!
That juve cutt threw me!
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 22, 2018, 06:01:45 AM
What an excellent post! Really enjoyed reading and re-reading the entire post! I have never been to that part of the Sierras!  Thanks so much for sharing. And did I mention what an excellent post it was?


Thanks 12440!  Enjoy sharing and reliving one of my favorite backpacking trips.
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 22, 2018, 06:02:18 AM
Great post thank you!
That juve cutt threw me!


Yeah, I thought that Cutt would have thrown everybody, but we have some savvy fisher folks on this forum.  There were two lakes up there with Cutts in them that I saw.  Just a nice mix of different trout in most lakes, never really knew what I had on the line until I brought then in, which made it more fun and interesting. :fishing3:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: wshawkins on March 22, 2018, 06:03:55 AM
The Palisades


One last photo of me looking back at “The Palisades” on my hike out to my truck.  Thanks to all for those who took time to leave a positive comment for this trip report.





The Palisades – One Last Look
(https://i.imgur.com/wXKeHPo.jpg)
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: RockToad on March 23, 2018, 03:17:22 AM
Thank you so much for the incredible pictures of my favorite places on earth! :clap:
Title: Re: The Palisades
Post by: littlefish on April 17, 2018, 08:45:51 AM
Thanks for your great work Wshawkins.  The NFBPC is a beautiful pristine area but unfortunately there are many campers who still build fires up there.  Last year my crew disassembled many fire sites and cleared the trail as far as we could.

No fire means no fire. Read the sign at the near the junction to Black Lake Trail.

Note to all:
If you absolutely need to have the comforts of a campfire at night stay down at Sage Flats and day hike the lakes.  lf