Author Topic: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.  (Read 11315 times)

Gary C.

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Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« on: August 21, 2014, 10:47:45 PM »
This year our week long backpacking trip was planned around fishing for goldens. The problem turned out to be that we picked what was probably the wettest week of the summer. Because of the weather I never got to fish those really high country lakes that are so secretly famous for their golden trout. I wonít call out the name of those lakes but I will name all of the places we did go. It should be no problem identifying the other lakes. The day that was allotted to hike cross country to them there was thunder and lightning all morning so we decided it was safer to explore closer to camp.

Saturday morning with permit in hand eight of us arrived at the Pine Creek trailhead. Six of us started up the hill to Pine Lake while Vince and Marshal drove to the North Lake trailhead to leave my Sequoia. Being the strong hikers that they are they would catch the rest of us before we reached camp.

I had heard many reports as to how bad the Pine Creek trail is. I didnít think it was quite as bad as everyone says but it wasnít any fun either. All 4mls is uphill with every step and 2,500ft of gain. It is very disheartening to hike for a couple of hours and a couple thousand foot of elevation to be able to look down and still see the parking lot.
Looking up Pine Creek Canyon         

My wife Debbie climbing some of the zillion steps up the canyon.        

Pine Lake
   

The only thing that I caught from Pine Lake were brookies but some of the other guys caught rainbows as well.      



I was very happy with these pictures I got early Sunday morning of Pine Lake.




It sprinkled on us Saturday evening and as we started up the trail for Pine Creek Pass Sunday morning it was very overcast and sprinkled on/off most of the way up the canyon. This is me with Upper Pine Lake in the background.


The crew from L/R Vince, Tania, Tanya, Marshal, Debbie, Tim, Mike.


About 200ft before we reached the top of the pass the skies opened up on us. It was just pouring rain and thunder and lightning could be seen from the other side of the pass. We decided that just to be safe we would drop back down a ways to a nice bench area to hopefully wait out the storm. The storm lasted a couple of hours and we ended up spending the night there. These were taken after the storm finally passed. There were plenty of little Goldens to be had in the stream.






Monday morning we broke camp and once again started for the pass under cloudy skies. This is where we turned around from the previous day and the trees below that we hid out in the night before.


It started to rain again by the time we crossed over Pine Creek Pass Elev. 11,123ft. This is Debbie again and the view down the south side of the pass. The Royce Lakes are to the immediate left behind the mountain edge in the right foreground. We are headed for Elba Lake which is in the top edge of those trees straight across the canyon but first we will have to drop down 1,000ft just to gain it again on the other side.


 It started raining fairly steady about the time we got to Elba Lake. We hurriedly set up our tents and jumped in for the next two hours. We got out just in time to make dinner and get some fishing in. Lots and lots of little brookies and goldens that couldnít wait to attack our dries. That is the Royce Lakes waterfall in the background.










Tuesday was a planned layover day and it was a good thing because we were trapped in our tents most of the morning because of rain and later a lot ot lightning in the surrounding area. We hiked up to Moon Lake and L Lake and fished them for more little brookies and goldens.
Wednesday morning we again woke up to light rain and decided we needed to keep on schedule so we broke camp and started down French Canyon to Hutchinson Meadow. It rained most of the way down but once we got there we found a great camp site and the clouds cleared away. Once we had a little sun to brighten our attitudes everyone fell in love with the area and all of the guys proceded to catch all the brookies and goldens they cared to throw a fly to.



Vince on Piute Creek.






Thursday morning it was time to start up the Piute Creek Trail towards Piute Pass. We thought about going to the Desolation Lakes for a day but again it looked like rain so we decided to hike to the Lower Golden Trout Lake and spend two nights before heading home. It was really strange fishing the Golden Trout Lakes because we could hardly find a fish in the lakes but the stream below, above, and in between were loaded with the same brookies and goldens we had been catching all week.
Lower Golden Trout Lake.


Had some smoke from the fires.






And of course some more rain.


On Friday the clouds finally went away and we got some sun, YAY!!




We caught our share of fish and did some overdue laundry and fished the rest of the day.






Saturday came and it was time to start for those far mountains and Piute Pass. We made it to the pass by 11:30am.


Getting closer


Tarn below Summit Lake and Summit Lake itself.




The top of Piute Pass Elev. 11,423ft




Itís all downhill from here to North Lake and my truck. That is Piute Lake below.


Because of the weather this year we ended up trimming a few miles and we only did 34miles but it was all good. The rain added a little extra to the adventure if nothing else. I did miss out on the Holy Grail lakes but I always believe in safety first. No reason to take chances in the back country just to fish a couple of lakes. I went with great friends and canít wait until we go again.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 08:27:32 AM by Gary C. »

Little Hardrock

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 06:07:21 AM »
 oh my goodness gary...  what a fantabulous trip report!     excellent adventure...  these photos are awesome,,,  love seeing the waterfalls! 



long live the summer of gary!!!!


Hardrock, may his spirit live on in all of us.....

playingmenace

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 08:27:11 AM »
Thanks Gary, great report and pics.

Was up that way many years ago, and that area from Piute Summit to Golden Trout Lakes seemed over run with marmots. We too were slammed with a few vicious thunder storms. A great basin with good fishing for wilds.

Thanks again.
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saudust

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 02:12:43 PM »
Love that shirt of yours, Gary, it says it all.  What a superb trip report and pictures.  The goldens are beautiful, so are the lakes, vistas and your fishing shots on the creeks.  Thanks so much for taking me (us) away from the city doldrums.
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

charlie

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 02:41:05 PM »
I've been wanting to do a trip up Pine Creek and this ain't helping!  Gorgeous pics. What a  fantastic trip, and living up to that shirt!  Thanks a bunch for the great report.

Trev Dog

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2014, 05:45:45 PM »
Love that shirt of yours, Gary, it says it all.  What a superb trip report and pictures.  The goldens are beautiful, so are the lakes, vistas and your fishing shots on the creeks.  Thanks so much for taking me (us) away from the city doldrums.

Ditto! Thanks Gary ( and Crew )   :clap:

Gary C.

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2014, 06:44:42 PM »
Thanks everyone. Considering that I was given that shirt mostly as a spoof I am sure enjoying it and getting some mileage out of it. Summer is almost over but I'm hoping to get in a couple more trips before I retire it.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 11:51:38 AM by Gary C. »

saudust

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2014, 04:38:14 AM »
Don't retire it, Gary.  Make it into a flag or something.  It needs to be part of your legend.  Just sayin'  :chestbump:
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

Little Hardrock

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2014, 06:08:17 AM »
oh yes, the shirt must live!     perhaps place it in a frame surrounded by your favorite photos  and tidbits from the summer!   oh, and heck ya...  go ahead and sign it in felt pen too:)
Hardrock, may his spirit live on in all of us.....

Gary C.

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2014, 11:56:42 AM »
I plan to find another way to keep it around, you both have great suggestions. I had been thinking about the big frame surrounded by pictures but making it a flag to hang from my pack while hiking is sounding pretty cool also.

Topwater Terry

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2014, 05:34:57 PM »
Great report Gary!  Always love to read about your backcountry trips!
Once I arrive at Tom's Place...well,  you know...nothing else matters...

Trev Dog

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2014, 10:01:25 PM »
Gary the  shirt has been part of two great trip report posts this summer! When its time put it into what ever Hall of Fame you chose, Thanks for sharing it and your summer with everyone.

Jmcclure83

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2014, 07:11:37 AM »
Looks like a blast! I'm jealous!! :clap: :hiking2:

wshawkins

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2014, 10:10:26 AM »
Great trip Gary!  Been up Pine Creek trail couple times now and I may have said itís pretty bad.  The trail is exposed most of the way up so can be tough on a sunny hot day.  Maybe my pack was overloaded too. ;D  Last time up Pine Creek trail I took the trail down to Ella, Moon and L Lakes like you did but then just cross-country to the other great fisheries in the Humphreys Basin.  Came out from Desolation Lake where there is a use trail towards Piute Trail/Piute Pass.  I have Great memories of that trip.

Even though the weather was not the best, you sure made the best of the situation.  I see you were you were fairly close to some great golden lakes, but you know how it is, the best wild golden ones are off the trail some distance away.  Love your shirt.  Hopefully weíll see it a few more times this year before you retire to your hall of fame.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Sierraslam

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2014, 11:52:32 AM »
What a great trip! Love the pictures! I've been up that way a few times, and never caught any Brookies out of Moon or L Lakes? Bummer that those pesky Brookies up there. Last time I went to French Canyon the rains chased us out a day early. Some rain is kind of fun, but after the 3rd day it can become annoying. You have a good group to tough it out in the rough weather. I have caught some bigger goldens in the lakes above Moon and L, but you all covered way more territory than I ever have. I've thought about doing this trip in reverse, and comming out Pine Creek. Maybe someday. Thanks for the report!

Gary C.

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2014, 12:29:38 AM »
wshawkins, I thought that the Pine Creek Trail was a real butt kicker. It's just that from the way it's described I expected it to be more like Taboose, Baxter, or Shepherd Passes which I have not hiked and probably never will.

Sierraslam, you got me thinking and we may not have caught any brookies out of L Lake, we only caught a couple of fish from there and I think that they were all goldens. I diid catch a brookie out of Moon Lake though. About the people in our group, I'm especially proud of the woman. There is an album in my FB page describing the kind of woman that turns me on. It's a bunch of pictures of my wife putting in the miles and crossing the passes. Mostly I was kidding but I've told all of the woman that hike with us I think it's hot to see a woman who carries her own orange shovel and can blow a snot rocket without having to turn loose of the handle of her trekking pole.

It's almost time to start planning next years big trip. I think we are going back to Yosemite next year.

fishpole

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2014, 10:47:00 AM »
Thats the longest report I have seen in a while, but really interesting and great pics. Thanks Gary C.

Sierraslam

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2014, 01:04:06 PM »
I agree, there's something about a woman wearing a backpack that is very hot. "The longer the trip, the better they look."

Little Hardrock

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2014, 02:56:10 PM »
the best looking person on a back pack trip is one holding the ice chest full of cold drinks and ice cream at the trailhead when you come out:)
Hardrock, may his spirit live on in all of us.....

wshawkins

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Re: Pine Creek to North Lake, another slice of Sierra heaven.
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2014, 02:59:46 PM »
Yeah, I like the look of a backpacking woman too.  Dirty, smelly and especially their muscular toned legs. :clap:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."