Author Topic: Gardisky Lake  (Read 20384 times)

wshawkins

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Gardisky Lake
« on: November 20, 2013, 01:08:43 PM »
I believe I shared this fishing day trip once before on the old boards, but it’s worth looking at again.  I come up here every year and probably fished this pretty alpine lake 50+ times over the years and never been skunked here (knock on wood and no disrespect to bj’s last outing).  It’s a tough hike but I would rate it one of the best short hikes you’ll likely to find in the Eastern Sierra, not just for fishing but also for the pristine views.  More people hike up here for the views than for fishing, which is great for us fishermen!


Gardisky Lake

Date:  October 20, 2013
The Basics:                    
1.3 miles (one-way)
840 vertical feet
Starting Elevation - 9760 ft.
Gardisky Lake Elevation - 10515 ft.


Directions:
Leave Hwy 395 at Hwy 120. Follow Tioga Pass Road toward Yosemite. Turn north onto Saddlebag Lake Road and go approximately 1 1/4 miles to the trailhead parking on the west side of the road.


A Little History:
Gardisky Lake got its name from Albert J. Gardisky, who first came to Tioga Pass in 1914 as a miner looking for his fortune.  He built Cabin 1 (Tioga Pass Resort) that year, and began mining and trapping.  Gardisky quickly learned, however, that he could make a better living providing food and shelter to the growing number of travelers crossing through Tioga Pass.  The Lake was named in his honor.


Gardisky Lake Trailhead



Gardisky Lake is an alpine gem, straddling the Tioga Crest above Saddlebag Lake, and though the hike to its shores is short, it is steep enough in places to give hikers a feeling of accomplishment.  Grand alpine scenery and 30-60-minute access to a lovely alpine basin combine to make this trip one of the best short hikes in the Eastern Sierra. 


It was a nice sunny afternoon, but a cool day as I rolled into the small dirt trailhead parking lot. There's space for about 8 cars here, and there are two other cars already parked here.


It was a chilly hike, and much of the beginning of the hike is in the shade of the forest.  On the other hand, it is steep. Incredibly steep!  So you heat up quickly!


Hoover Wilderness



In any case, suffice it to say that it's a steep slog up this dusty trail, basically following a fast-flowing creek.  The trail starts on the right side of the creek, but after a few minutes’ crosses it.  The trail continues its unrelenting steepness. As I climbed higher I started to get views of the mountains across the road.


Steep Climb



Views



Great views continue to open up as you climb up, stretching past the towering cone of Mount Dana to the Kuna Crest in the south, and westward across upper Lee Vining Creek to the gleaming white granite of the Sierra crest.  Views of the 12,000 foot White Mountain, 12,590 foot Mount Conness, and the east face of 12,242 foot North Peak can be seen from here.


Mt Conness & North Peak



There are a lot of small switchbacks when finally; I crested out of the forest into a large grassy area with wonderful views to the west of the snow-covered mountains.


View Towards Tioga Peak



You’re not done yet, but the hard part was over.  You now had a gentle climb the rest of the way.  The trail was now straight, with no more switchbacks.  Never saw another hiker on the trail so far, but that’s normal for this hike.  This was in great contrast to the hordes of people in my Saddlebag Lake hike yesterday.


I crested a ridge and could now see a couple of small ponds on the right.  Over the next ridge Gardisky Lake came into view, and what a beautiful sight it was!


Gardisky Lake



The lake has a population of brook trout, so take some home.  Best place to fish is from wherever you can throw your line in.  Most people who fish will head to the right where the deep water lies.  #16 fly should work wonders here.  My favorite’s flies to use on this lake are Caddis, Nymphs or Midges.  Using a dry and a dropper can be productive.  I catch less fish on a dry fly but it’s so much more fun.


The northern shore of the lake is open, grassy, with not much in the way of shade from trees. I could see a group of people on that side, having a picnic.  No one is fishing so I have the lake to myself (fishing wise).  I continued along the lake shore looking for any sign of fish activity, and there is some, but under the ice.  About 200’ of the shore line was frozen on the west side of the lake.


Ice on Gardisky Lake



Now that I stopped hiking, I started to get quite cold, as there was a slight but incessant cool breeze coming in from the west.


Gardisky Lake



I moved around the lake and found an ice free area to fish.  No sign of activity so I start with a dry fly with no luck.  I’m a sight fisherman and fishing blind is never been much good for me on dry flies.  I change to a wet fly and add a spilt-shot to get it down deeper and that did the trick.  Fish on!


Fish On!



Brookie



I run into a father and son hiking around the lake and we chat as I’m fishing.  I meet the nicest people in the backcountry.  Their more excited than me as I bring in another brookie and have an hundred questions on fishing and “wished they brought their poles with them”.  How many times have I heard that statement!


What they were there for was to hike Tioga Peak and wondered if I knew the best way up.  I point to where there is a nice hiker use trail up to the peak.  I have climbed up there more than a dozen times over the years and it always is a breathtaking view.



Tioga Peak




As I move around the lake I find a nice deep spot and the lake starts to warm up and fish are beginning to rise to feed.  I switch back to my dry fly and sight fishing gets hot. 



Brookie




I’ve caught Brookies up to 14” here in the past, but the average today is about 10’ up to 12”.  But they look pretty healthy this year, not stunted as in prior years.  A welcome change!  Fishing is good today.



Brookie




Brookie




Brookie




The group that was having a picnic earlier comes by and asks if I know how to reach the Tioga Crest.  I show them the best rout up and what’s to see once they’re up there if they wish.  This always happens to me, it’s like I have a sign on my saying “Tour Guide”.  But I don’t really mine as they are good people.



Fishing continues to be good as I bring in one after another of the fat brookies.



Brookie




Brookie
   



The scenery is top notch.  Take advantage of the awe-inspiring views of the spectacular peaks as you leave and head back toward the trailhead.



Views on the way back




This is my last day of my vacation and I always end it here as I have many good memories of me and my dad fishing here.  When I reached the bottom to the trailhead, I found no other cars left in the parking lot.  Just like me and my dad, we were always the last ones to leave.  Tradition is hard to break.




"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Gary C.

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2013, 04:56:42 PM »
Great report, sounds like a sweet trip.

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2013, 05:22:34 PM »
Yes, a sweet trip.  I have a love/hate relationship with Gardisky Lake.  I love the fishing and views but hate the hike. :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

saudust

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 05:48:45 AM »
Gardisky Lake, let's see, add to Eastern Sierra Nevada Bucket List.  Note to self: bring your pole.  Thanks for all the pictures and detailed story account of your day there.  Very sweet indeed that you and your dad had those times together.
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 06:49:21 AM »
Thanks saudust.  Might be a bad hike for somebody that has bad knees!  But if you bring your hiking poles would sure make it more tolerable.  It's no worst than the Little Walker Lake hike, so you should do fine.

Thanks for actually reading the story within the fishing trip.  Most guys I imagine just look at the fish porn. :lol2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

fishpole

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2013, 10:49:11 AM »
Good report and pictures thanks for sharing :clap:

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2013, 12:32:48 PM »
Glad you liked it Fishpole.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

bj

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 02:15:08 PM »
Totally enjoyed this Gardisky post. Have to admit didn't spend much time there last trip. Friend with me has a hip replacement and was more worried about the hike back down than catching fish.  It's the toughest hike I've ever been on where there was an actual trail. That was my 4th and probably last trip but had some good times there.
" Rock on..........Rock the Creek"
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wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2013, 05:39:21 PM »
Glad you enjoyed it bj.  Was not sure how you would take this fishing trip report.  Some people are very sensitive when they get a skunk and somebody comes along and says fishing was good!  Myself, I usually give a lake or stream a certain amount of time, and if nothing is biting I just move on.  Not a big deal for me as trout will be biting somewhere. Lots of good fishing choices in the Tioga Pass area. :twothumbs:

Meant to ask you about “how much ice was on the lake” when you were up there?  I didn’t get up there until noon and about 200 feet covered the west side of the lake.  If I have got up there real early, it might have been unfishable! :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Trev Dog

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2013, 09:42:17 PM »
Wshawkins, as usual very informative and great pictures! Your thread on Autumn in the Sierras and this thread have re-arranged my trips this coming season. As a warm weather So. Cal beach freak and a mountain loving person my usual trips are in the late June to mid Augest months. I am now planing a trip to the Silver Lakes Resort in mid October and possibly late June early July so the we can take a day hike to Gardisky Lake. How are the wildflowers up there? are there any on the hike? Can't wait for breakfast at the resort in October!

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bj

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2013, 09:59:36 PM »
No ice along the westerly side on 10/16.
" Rock on..........Rock the Creek"
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saudust

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2013, 05:49:35 AM »
Trev Dog, you may already know, but SLR closes next October on Monday the 13th.  Book it early.  This year they were slammed, especially due to the campgrounds closing.  Gardisky is definitely on my radar for next October.  Those brookies looked like they needed a frying pan.
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2013, 07:05:11 AM »
No ice along the westerly side on 10/16.

Thanks bj.  It was in the upper teen/low twenties in the morning when I was up there.  That would make some ice! ;D
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2013, 07:09:59 AM »
Wshawkins, as usual very informative and great pictures! Your thread on Autumn in the Sierras and this thread have re-arranged my trips this coming season. As a warm weather So. Cal beach freak and a mountain loving person my usual trips are in the late June to mid Augest months. I am now planing a trip to the Silver Lakes Resort in mid October and possibly late June early July so the we can take a day hike to Gardisky Lake. How are the wildflowers up there? are there any on the hike? Can't wait for breakfast at the resort in October!

You are the Ultimate Guide


Thanks Trev Dog, hitting the best fall color is all about timing and mostly luck, and nobody knows when the trees will turn colors.  Every year is different!  Mid October can be too late in some years, but this year was just perfect.  So you never know!  I was really disappointed that the Silver Lake Resort was closed for the season, their breakfast are the best. 

Late June through July hike up to Gardisky Lake is the best time to catch the wildflowers.  You’ll see some along the creek that follows the creek up to the lake and at the lake itself.  Not as spectacular as the little lakes valley trail can get, but a nice change with different vistas.

These photos were taken over the 4th of July Holiday:

Flowers along the lake shore




« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 12:15:41 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2013, 07:12:42 AM »
Trev Dog, you may already know, but SLR closes next October on Monday the 13th.  Book it early.  This year they were slammed, especially due to the campgrounds closing.  Gardisky is definitely on my radar for next October.  Those brookies looked like they needed a frying pan.


They were fat this year saudust!  And they were good out of the frying pan! :bbq:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

bstolton

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2013, 08:57:57 PM »
Awesome report as usual WSH !  :clap:
gone fishn, hope to be catchn soon !

Trev Dog

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2013, 10:52:29 PM »
Thank' wshawkins, and sawdust as the two of you verified what I want to do. Rock Creek with a day hike to Garisky Lake in late June or early July and Silver Lakes Resort end of September early October, with warm water and surf in between!

saudust

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2013, 05:27:08 AM »
Tight lines and smooth rides, Trev Dog.  Gardisky in early October is a must.  I'm going to have to improve my sight fishing and fly casting, though.  I pretty well stink at both.  There's a public lake nearby, Leg Lake in Whittier Narrows, that might help with both if I can find the time. 
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2013, 07:39:50 AM »
Awesome report as usual WSH !  :clap:


Thanks bstolton!  You put out some great reports too.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2013, 07:45:15 AM »
Thank' wshawkins, and sawdust as the two of you verified what I want to do. Rock Creek with a day hike to Garisky Lake in late June or early July and Silver Lakes Resort end of September early October, with warm water and surf in between!

I work in Huntington Beach Trev Dog and quite a few of my work buddies surf (and fish).  They surf year round (winter!).  I can see hitting it on warm days, but after work in winter?  I don't know about that! :lol2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2013, 07:50:09 AM »
Tight lines and smooth rides, Trev Dog.  Gardisky in early October is a must.  I'm going to have to improve my sight fishing and fly casting, though.  I pretty well stink at both.  There's a public lake nearby, Leg Lake in Whittier Narrows, that might help with both if I can find the time.

I don't know if you caught my hint when to go to Gardisky saudust when the weather is cold (October?) but later is better.  That's true for most high country lakes above 10,000 feet in general.  Give the lake time to warm up a few degrees and that can make all the difference in a good fishing trip!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2013, 08:30:15 AM »
One of the unusual aspects of Gardisky Lake is that it has two outlets!  How many lakes you seen with two outlets?  One of the outlets is the one you follow up the trail with, which flows east down to Lee Vining Creek (also known as Saddlebag Creek).  The west outlet flows down to Warren Fork in Warren Canyon.


East Gardisky Creek



Gardisky Lake also has several ponds that also contain fish.  When you first come up to Gardisky they are on the right.  These ponds are formed during spring thaw, when the lake overflows its banks and the fish get stuck in the ponds.  I would fish these ponds all day as a child, lots of fun for kids.  The wast ponds do dry up by late summer.  The eest pond is full year around as the lake flows through the pond to get to the outlet.


West Ponds almost dried up in October but full in spring



East Pond



« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 12:13:00 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

saudust

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2013, 09:11:37 AM »
wshawkins, I meant to ask earlier, but what camera do you take with you for the photos you are posting?  Also, does the east pond have brookies, too? 
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2013, 01:00:27 PM »
wshawkins, I meant to ask earlier, but what camera do you take with you for the photos you are posting?  Also, does the east pond have brookies, too? 

Yes saudust, Brookies in the lake and ponds.

Camera I use is the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100.  Its compact (fits in my pocket), excellent photo quality, has a bright fast lens, and very speedy.  It excels in low light because it has a large sensor (larger senor allows more light in).  So early morning or late afternoon shots come out great!  Most of my shots are in Intelligent auto (point & shoot), but I do dabble in aperture and shutter speeds, especially for fall colors or lake shots as they come out more vivid.  Got it last xmas, so this was my first season using it.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Gardisky Lake
« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2013, 12:12:36 PM »

This 24 acre lake is never crowded, as there are only 8 parking spots at the trail head.  And not everyone that comes up the trail goes to the lake.  So if you don’t fish, what is there to do or see?

•   Enjoy a stroll around the lake
•   Have a picnic
•   Take a nap
•   Like Geology?  Lots of interesting rocks to look at
•   Have the kids build a fort
•   During the warm summer months, the east ponds turn warm, perfect for kids wading
•   Check out the small glacier on the south shore
•   Check out the views of Warren Canyon from the west outlet
•   Climb up to Tioga Peak for incredible views
•   Climb up to Tioga Crest for even greater views


I’ll see if I can find some photos of the above to share

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."