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Gene St. Denis ventures into Sierra Nevada backcountry

Gene St. Denis
Guest Column
Gene St. Denis with a golden trout he caught during a 22-day solo expedition into the Sierra Nevada backcountry.
Courtesy Photo |

Tales from Gene St. Denis’ 22-day solo expedition into the Sierra Nevada backcountry:

I am back to Lake Tahoe now after spending three weeks alone in the High Sierra Nevada Mountains at 11,000 to 13,000 feet. For almost 80 miles on a Sierra Nevada crest route starting south of 14,000-foot Mount Langley and exiting south of Big Pine.

Some parts were Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trail and then vast stretches of rugged cross country that were supplemented with rock climbing Class 5 passes and cliffs. This was very interesting for me with a three-week loaded hugh pack that was filled with winter gear and weighed just over 85 pounds at the start.

Slow at first, I made my way past many Mt. Langley summit baggers headed out out of the backcountry as the snow started to fly lightly for several days.

16 lakes

I visited and probably released over 200 golden trout or so. I cooked up and ate eight or so — mmm boy were they a treat in the cold windy Sierra Nevada Mountains. I was very close to some bighorn sheep for four days as they had gotten use to my presence because I have been by them every year now for over 40 years straight.

An MSR Dragonfly and fuel were my choice for a solid reliable stove able to boil water or melt large amounts of snow into water as needed as well as simmer golden trout to perfection. I coated graham crackers or maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal on the cleaned, filleted, trimmed and chunked golden trout by

using large freezer bags to shake and bake them first before cooking in the frying pan for dinner, shoreline lunches or a great hot breakfast.

Cold nights and mornings were the rule this trip along with constant wind. I drank a lot of Gatorade to keep muscle cramps down and endurance up, hot coffee in the morning and hot cocoa at night — Advil and aspirin were taken in daily dosages.

Small pieces of Powerbait, crickets, moths and Kastmasters were the main presentations the golden trout hit throughout all the lakes — the creeks were stuffed with smaller goldens that hit on flies and bubble.

Osprey, golden eagles, coyotes, foxed, pikas, marmots, cougars, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, mule deers, black bears, wolverines and golden trout were my beautiful and harmonious neighbors.

Gene St. Denis owns Blue Ribbon Fishing Charters.


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