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Solo on the Sierra High Route & Fishing
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Richard Bolt
(richardbolt) - F

Locale: California
Solo on the Sierra High Route & Fishing on 10/26/2010 12:09:46 MDT Print View

Tuesday October 5th - Saturday October 9th, 2010. Starting Roads End and up up and away over Grouse Lake Pass and Goat Crest Pass to State Lake for some fishing before looping back over Granite Pass and back down to Roads End.

Watch the video on Vimeo:

I had a few days to kill, so I decided to try some new gear, some high country fishing, and my favorite: off trail travel. The forecast was sucking pretty bad when I checked on Monday, with up to 10 inches of snow predicted for the high passes (where I was headed) and general winter onset and misery slowly clearing during Wednesday and Thursday. Not quite what I was hoping for, but definitely better for taking soulful photographs.

I had never been into the main Kings Canyon itself, and as I drove in on Highway 180 I never saw it at all; because it was nighttime and nights are very dark without a moon. Since it wasn't raining (and indeed stars were out) I headed off up the trail to Lower Tent Meadow, getting there about 1am. A short nap and it was off again around 8am for my off trail day on the High Route. There's only one word to describe off trail travel in the high Sierra alpine environment: incredible. Well, actually you could use "amazing", "awesome", and all those other adjectives too. But anyway, the thrill of wandering above the tree line with no path, just you and the mountains, is something that has not diminished since I symbolically hung my ice tools up in the living room years ago. It's pretty easy travel on that first section of off trail hiking on the Sierra High Route - not difficult in the navigation department either. It clouded in for me and began to snow as I neared Goat Crest Pass, but that just made it more fun. I got pretty tired descending and camped early in the beautiful (and beautifully cold) valley with a meadow before the State Lake Trail.

Dawning cool and crisp I headed to State Lake and fished and ate Golden Trout and circumnavigated the lake for searching for some views of the Goddard Creek and the Enchanted Gorge region; though I couldn't quite discern their guardian mountains with the cloud cover rolling in and out. A friend and I had an aborted trip that would have been in that area back before Memorial Day had the snow crust not given out over a hidden fallen log and twisted his knee badly on the first day out from Bishop.

The next day I headed on the trail over Granite Pass and into Granite Basin. Naturally enough, Granite Basin is made of granite, and is acoustically superb. So I was walking along the trail after the Granite Lake junction, and heard what sounded like a dog out toward the lake less than a mile away. I was thinking who in the world is up here on a stroll with dog on a Friday afternoon in October? That's when the dog started to sound like strangled dog for a bit before going back to happy dog yelps and thereafter alternating between happy and being strangled. It took me a couple of minutes of listening to this before I realized: Mr Wile E. Coyote is back there headed my way. I hustled off down the trail and set up a stealth camp and enjoyed the afternoon without disturbance. About 3am I was awakened by the same strangled yelping from well down the basin and I knew all was well.

I set off early Saturday morning hoping to catch sunrise at The Lip (I pretty much did) though I lost the trail at one point in the half light of dawn and the smooth granite. I was back at the car around 10am for the long drive home to San Diego.

Gorgeous country, wonderful weather, and no souls seen until Lower Tent Meadow where two guys had camped. Signs of Winter were everywhere and made everything better, except now I need a warmer sleeping bag for these sorts of trips. Oh, and the drive out of Kings Canyon was incredible. Kings Canyon really is the Canyon of the Kings, for sure. I will be doing much more of the High Route in the near future having been hooked on my first taste.

Edited by richardbolt on 10/26/2010 12:12:46 MDT.

Gray T Kinnier
(gtkinnier) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Very nice video on 10/26/2010 18:31:20 MDT Print View

You have captured the beauty of the Sierras and the changing of the seasons. I have plans to create a video of our last trip, what software did you use? Did you take along a DSLR or p&s, lenses used ? Thanks for sharing.

Richard Bolt
(richardbolt) - F

Locale: California
Re: Very nice video on 10/26/2010 18:59:25 MDT Print View

Thank you!

I took along a Panasonic GF1 with just a 20mm pancake lens and the Olympus 17mm optical viewfinder. Everything was shot with that camera/lens combo. Works very well for me and I am very happy with the image quality (I'm very picky about the image quality). I used to carry a 5D with a couple of lenses, but no longer and my back is much happier for it and haven't yet missed the really wide angle or zoom opportunities that multiple zoom lenses provided me with.

I actually used Apple Final Cut Pro, Motion, & Soundtack Pro to put this video together, purely because I couldn't figure out in iMovie how to do the overlays I wanted - where I have a video clip and want to interpose it with photographs yet keep the video clip audio track running right through the whole sequence.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Very nice video on 10/26/2010 19:00:19 MDT Print View

Excellent video! Great visual and audio. Nice the way you mixed your narrative into the work.

Thanks for sharing.


The 'just kidding' had me ROTFL.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Solo on the SHR & fishing on 10/26/2010 19:07:47 MDT Print View

Excellent video Richard--You definitely got it right on vimeo- nice tunes too!..I was in Simpsons Meadow about a month ago- I came from Tehipite Valley..Your video maid me feel like I needed to go back there now before the snow comes. COOL stuff!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Solo on the Sierra High Route & Fishing on 10/26/2010 20:34:07 MDT Print View

What a beautiful trip, Richard! Many thanks for taking us along for the ride.

Richard Bolt
(richardbolt) - F

Locale: California
Re: Solo on the SHR & fishing on 10/27/2010 12:37:31 MDT Print View

Sweet! I actually have a question about the river down at Simpsons Meadow: how was it flowing for a crossing to head up Goddard Creek? Did the terrain look friendly for a swim/float crossing if the river was high (as in early season)?

I haven't yet been able to find much info on that crossing, unfortunately.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Solo on the SHR & Fishing on 10/27/2010 18:20:23 MDT Print View

Richard the river is the Middle Fork of the Kings River. There was a bridge at Simpson Meadow but was washed out a few years ago. There is a trail going down the entire length of river starting from Tehipite Valley eventually hitting the JMT. I have read and herd of people connecting to Goddard Canyon but it is a cross country route and very steep at times on exposed granite. I attempted a similar route a few years ago but got off track and turned back..A very good learning experience for me..Here are few picture to give you reference on the valley:
Tehipite Valley
Up to Goddard Canyon-Definitely cross country with some climbing..I was able to cross the river with no problems-I crossed it in late August when the river was much lower...The entire valley is very backpacking friendly...but not as friendly as the All Blacks......

Edited by Creachen on 10/27/2010 19:24:55 MDT.

Richard Bolt
(richardbolt) - F

Locale: California
Re: Solo on the SHR & Fishing on 10/28/2010 13:26:56 MDT Print View

Thanks Jay, that info and your photos are very helpful :-)

Kenneth Cowan
(zeros) - F

Locale: California
Great Report! on 09/02/2011 12:22:54 MDT Print View

Your route is looking very tempting these days. Also, thanks for the beautiful images and great job on the music and editing. That GF1 is quite a camera.

Just curious- Where did you find your information on the conservation status of Golden Trout? I haven't heard anywhere that it is okay to keep a CA golden of any variety- especially at higher altitudes since those fish haven't been as exposed to cross breeding with other species.

Best regards,

Richard Bolt
(richardbolt) - F

Locale: California
Re: Great Report! on 09/02/2011 16:43:21 MDT Print View

Hi Kenneth,

Thanks :-) I'm planning to go back and do the entire High Route, probably next year. I definitely like the GF1 for those sorts of trips.

The relevant regulations on CA trout fishing for this season are available here:

At the time, and I believe it is still the case reading the above, you can keep Golden Trout as long as you follow the regulations about where and when you fish which translates to: you can eat a few per day on that route.

Randy Cain
(bagboy) - MLife

Locale: Palmdale, CA
Great video!! on 02/21/2013 21:36:02 MST Print View

Really enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing. I hope to get to see some of that same route soon.