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    Mike Carey's Blog
    Welcome to Mike's Fishing Blog, the culmination of a ten year vision for this web site. I fish for anything that swims - put a pole in my hand and I'm there!
    My 16 year old son James and I got to go on our first father-son overnight camping trip of the year. He had mentioned he wanted to do some camping this year so I looked for a first hike which I hoped would not be too difficult yet still give him a taste of the Alpine Lakes region. I checked the Forest Service web site and determined that the Copper lake trail was open. I checked the distance - 3.5 miles in - not too bad - and the elevation gain - ouch 2,000 ft in the last 1.5 miles. Well, I figured, a short amount of pain would be worth the great location... my bad!

    The first part of the hike went "OK". James seemed to be huffing on a stretch I thought was nothing much, but I figured he was getting his legs warmed up. By the time we reached trout lake I realized that he would need some help to make it to Copper lake, so I repacked the back packs and got him as light as I could. Trout lake (17 acres, 2012 ft) is a pleasant little lake, said to have rainbow in it. I saw a couple dimples out in the middle of the lake while we had our lunch.

    The crossing of the West Foss river proved to be interesting as the spring run-off had raised the river level and removed the easy log bridges previously there. We managed to get across and begin the difficult ascent to Copper Lake. Switchbacks and steep trails did their best to beat our will, but we climbed ever higher, greeted by the roar of Malachite Falls in it's full flow. Quite a sight to see and hear. There was a point I turned and said to James, "We aren't going to let this mountain beat us, are we." Not a question, but a statement. He was doing better now and just said "Let's keep going". Maybe it was resignation, I don't know, but he seemed to have gotten his second wind.  As we reached the falls we came to our first patches of snow, which soon became more snow than trail, and finally just snow. Fortunately others had come before us and a path in the snow led to Copper lake and a nice, snow free camping spot. We set camp and enjoyed a view of a almost fully frozen lake. The snow cover obscured much of the surrounding peaks, but the next morning we had clear skies and a great view. Copper Lake lies at around 4,000 elevation, is 148 acres, and is said to hold rainbow, cutthroat, and eastern brook trout. Obviously no fishing for me this day with only small shoreline areas free of ice. James and I enjoyed our now re-hydrated chicken/potatoes/corn dinner and retired to an early evening of reading and James listening to his i-pod.

    As mentioned, the next morning came with clear blue skies and gorgeous views. The descent down was a workout as well, and I'm feeling the effects of a cold, although my sleeping bag was warm enough. It was tough and we were both very happy to make it back to the truck and home to civilization.  I was worried I had done the opposite of exciting James into further camping adventures, until he turned to me and said "thanks for taking me camping". Coming from a 16 year old that was as much enthusiasm as I could ever ask for! I will plan on the next overnight being a far easy hike though.

    Hiking stats from my GPS hand held: 13.8 miles hiked, total elevation gained 2,649 feet, maximum elevation 4,342 feet.
    I'm guessing the guide books don't do a very good job of estimating switchback distance, just distance as the crow flys.






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    Posted by: Mike Carey
    Posted: June 22, 2010 11:24 PM
    Categories: General, Trout Fishing
    June 24, 2010 07:34 PM
    opps - there was a double post and I deleted one and they both went away, so sorry about that! The question was pack size. No worries, my pack weighed in at 40 lbs and James had 25 lbs. I ended up taking his sleeping bag also. But he did great considering. It was much tougher than I expected it to be.
    G-Man says:
    June 24, 2010 11:15 AM
    Great report Mike, it is always a crapshoot hiking up to a lake without fresh intell. I remember first hiking into that system after school let out my senior year in high school. That year we packed a 2 man rubber raft up there and had a great time catching fish, mostly brookies. I don't recall the ice being on Copper this late in the season, I guess our winter was a bit harsher than I remember. Looks like anyone hitting this system will need to wait a bit longer before heading out if they plan on doing any fishing. One thing you can be thankful for is that the mosquitoes can't be out in force with ice on the lake!
    June 24, 2010 06:13 AM
    MotoBoat, I did a few casts at Trout on the way in, during our lunch break. The deeper water was just at the maximum casting range. I didn't have the time to wander around the lake to find other spots. I would say that again, this lake could yield better from a float tube if one was willing to hike it in. Going out we were definately thinking one thing - trailhead! James had enough for the trip. I think the guide books were written prior to reliable gps as last week's hike was the same deal. My "100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes" was published in 1985. I think the next hike we do I will try to focus more on actually catching a fish.
    MotoBoat says:
    June 23, 2010 09:20 PM
    You know Mike, I was wondering how accurate the guide book would be when giving hiking mileage for certain hike. You would think someone actually hiked before listing the distance. I guess not! At risk of asking the obvious. Why not fish at trout lake on your way out? I will take a wild stab. and say because you two where tired. 6.9 miles by GPS, compared to 3.5 as stated in your reading material, each way no less. Is a blunder as far as the accuracy of the book goes. I can hardly wait for your next Alpine Lake adventure report. Maybe next time there will be fish in the pictures. Glad you and your teenager had a safe hike.
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