Golden Trout Wilderness
My mother-in-law arrived right on time to relieve me of my stay-at-home dad duties. The rental car was packed and ready to go and after putting my son down for his afternoon nap I snuck out the garage. I made a quick stop for some last minute supplies and then headed north. It was a five hour drive to foot of the Golden Trout Wilderness, I made the long drive without stopping once. I met my good friend Chad and hiking partner for the next four days, at the entrance to the dirt track that led to the trailhead. The sun had just set but it was still in the high 80’s. The weather forecast for the next three days predicted a heat wave with very low humidity.
We transferred all my gear to his car and then drove a few miles up to Shepherds Pass trailhead where we staged the rental along with a Yeti cooler packed with ice and La Croix beverages. That night we got the last room available at the Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine. We stayed in the John Wayne room, which I was pretty stoked about. In the morning we picked up some more last minute supplies at the market and then headed over to Alabama Hills Cafe for a hearty breakfast.
Next stop was Horseshoe Meadows where we were going to put in for a 64 mile hike over four days (or so we thought). The first day we planned to hike 17 miles, with a short elevation gain of 500′ or so to Trail Pass before heading downhill the rest of the day it was to be the easiest day of the entire adventure.
After hiking for a four or five hours we stopped to dine on some misoyaki, takuan, and tamago onigiris (Japanese rice balls wrapped in seaweed) that I had made the day before. Of course I could not pass up the opportunity to fish the nearby gorgeous genryu (mountain headwater stream). Despite the heat and clear blue skies I caught a few dozen beautiful albeit small Golden Trout. It was my first time using my newest rod the Karasu 360. There was hardly any wind so I took the opportunity to break her in using nylon line. The trees were a little tight so I opted for a shorter line maybe three meters including a meter of 6x tippet. The fishing on day one of the trip was really good. It was a change of pace though from the much harder to catch Japanese Iwana, Yamame, and Amago I had been fishing for for the past few years. I did not need to be overly cautious when approaching the pools and sometimes I pulled five or six fish out of one spot – I even hooked the same fish numerous times at least twice that day. Definitely not what I had become accustomed to fishing in Japan, but I think I will survive.
That evening we camped sandwiched between an ancient lava flow and the river. During the last few minutes of good light after setting up camp I caught another dozen or so Golden Trout with my trusty Tenyru Furaibo TF39TA rod. We were several thousand feet lower than Trail Pass and there were hardly any bugs, which if we had known how the rest of the trip was going to be we would have taken the time to appreciate a little more.
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