After having negotiated the NPS permitting change (no more night pickups), I decided to arrive in Lone Pine the night before starting our trip over Shepherd pass. We picked up our permit before closing time, and then made reservations at the Merry-Go-Round for our last civilized meal before heading for the interior of Sequoia NP. A good night's sleep at the Dow Villa, an early alarm set at four AM and the objective of getting through the lower elevations before temperatures warmed up significantly was the plan for initiating this long anticipated backpacking trip.
I had always read how Shepherd pass was "very difficult". To the contrary, I was pleased with this approach and found it more to my liking as we put in some good efforts starting at 6,300 feet and setting up our first camp just above Anvil. Anvil camp was thick with mosquitos, and an extra 400 feet of climbing eliminated the worst of these bugs. At 10,700 feet, we felt pretty good after having hiked over seven miles in steep terrain. I found this a much better way to acclimate than going in at near 10,000 feet, as is the case at the more popular eastern Sierra entry points. Shepherd pass is a well kept secret as goes an excellent entrance into what otherwise entails a good extra day of hiking from either Whitney Portal or Kearsarge, the two nearest alternative passes.
Day two, we set out early to begin what was to be a very fine trip, cresting this 12,000 foot pass before 10 in the morning. Snow this late in the season was no longer a problem, and the descent from the top is surprisingly easy being far less steep than the other side. Our destination was an off-trail lake near 11,000 feet, just east of Table mountain. We were nestled within the horseshoe shape of mountains created by the confluence of the Great Western Divide, the Kings Kern Divide and the eastern Sierra escarpment. It is a spectacular location. We saw only two other backpackers on the final day of our four night stay. The views from our tent were breathtaking.
I have never seen a wolverine, and this lake provided the first opportunity to come close. We found fresh tracks around the lake's perimeter, further testimony to the remote location for what would be our base camp for the remaining four nights of our trip.
As a minority member, my objective on these backpack trips is the fishing. As my son and I have improved our fishing skills over the years (this being our sixth annual father and son trip together). We choose lakes based on topography. Features such as which direction the lake faces, what is the shoreline in terms of any turf or trees, what are the size of the inlet and outlet streams ... these and other details can help improve the opportunity to catch not just fish, but BIG fish. The bigger the better. Anything over 15 inches is a trophy in my book for the High Sierra. I have only caught three fish over 15 inches in the High Sierra, and two of them were caught on this trip! Wet flies are the key to catching the bigger fish, and the time of day can significantly influence one's chances for success. The following photo is of one of the two 15.5 fish I caught on this trip. A beautiful fish indeed, probably some sort of rainbow-golden hybrid. The color in this fish is unlike any I have ever seen, and we did see quite a variety out of this wonderful lake. The remaining pictures punctuate our objective for this trip.
We got to see some awesome mountains on this trip. My favorite on this trip was the 13,608 ft. Mt. Ericsson. The following picture is near sunset, viewing this craggy mountain from its south face. The next is the 13,630 ft. Table Mountain as viewed during a day hike from the northwestern face.
High Sierra Meadow
A beautiful meadow above our lake's campsite was full of cascading waterfalls and beautiful flowers. Table Mountain and Thunder Mountain formed an impressive backdrop. The first image is with Thunder Mountain in the far background.
It was a trip to remember. We had the solitude, terrific weather, the best fishing, and a backdrop of high Sierra mountain beauty.
I love the time spent with my own son, who's sixteen, much of it in the wilderness. While I hear folks who complain of trouble getting their son/daughter to talk to them about life, school, etc, I never have that problem. It's a matter of taking time out to enjoy your kids while they're still at home. It's precious time that can never be recovered once lost. Congrat's on a great trip and a wonderful read. --mark d.
P.S.--I'd love to have that wolverine track image attached to the Animal Signs album, if you'd care to do that. :-)
A very inspiring report indeed. Great scenery, great lakes, and big fish.
One question: what is your wet fly strategy? i.e., in terms of patterns, line type, extra weights? I have little experience fishing wets in lakes, which may explain my general lack of lake success. I will often fish a dropper rig in streams and rivers, which works pretty well. But always with floating line.
Yep, I figured that out with the help of others providing feedback. You'd think I'd have figured it out on my own, figuring I make a living working on canids! What can I say? Mountain air livens my imagination.