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2010: Wishon Lake to Portal Lake

August 8, 2010

Trip Report for Wishon Lake to Portal Lake (43 miles)

July 8-13, 2010


0 full hike

Day 1: Wishon Trailhead to Chimney lake: 8 miles

Day 2: Chimney Lake to Portal Lake: 12 miles

Days 3 & 4: Day Hiking

Day 5: Portal Lake to Large Meadow: 12 miles

Day 6: Large Meadow to Wishon Lake: 11 miles

We had originally planned to do a large loop going over Mt. Reinstein Pass down to Lake 10232, over Finger Peak pass, then down Blue Canyon, and out again along Crown Valley. After getting to Portal Lake we changed plans and did day hikes there, heading back more or less the way we came. This had been quite a wet winter, so there was lots of snow and water, and then mosquitoes.

Day 1: Wishon Trailhead to Chimney lake: 8 miles

Profile Day 1

6,200 – 9,500′


Nick and Kevin at the Trailhead

We left the trailhead at 1:00 pm with an altitude climb of over 3,000′ and arrived at the lake at 7:45. The hike was a steady incline the whole way. All of us had what were probably minor symptoms of altitude—a feeling of lightheadedness and one of my companions had a headache.

Chimney Lake

Chimney Lake

Chimney Lake was a very pretty spot less than a mile off the main trail. The setting was lovely, and wooded. The lake did not offer swimming or fishing however.

Day 2: Chimney Lake to Portal Lake: 12 miles

Profile Day 2

9,500′ – 10,400′ – 9,200′ – 10,400′

We climbed at first to Crown Pass. Then we dropped to where the Kings River Trail met our trail. Then we climbed again back to  Portal Lake.


Kevin and Nick at the Pass

The first half the day the trail was good, a bit of up and down to the pass and we stopped for lunch at Half Moon Lake, where we also took a dip. However, once we started following the stream up the valley the trail got very mucky, and often we were hiking in mud or the trail had become a run-off stream (it had been a wet winter/spring), making hiking less pleasant.


Falls along the way

Once we turned south-east to follow the outlet up to Portal, we could not always find the trail, though at least we were out of the mud. At Portal, the bugs were relatively mild. And the spot was wonderful, with lots of great views.

Days 3 & 4: Day hiking

Kevin preparing to fish

The next morning we had light rain, which persisted on and off all day. As it had been a long hike there and the weather was bleak, we were not up for the difficult cross-country to, and over, the pass, so changed plans to do day hikes.


View from pass

On the first rest day we did a day hike to Valor Lake and to the pass. It took about 5 hours to reach the pass, taking it easy, but pack free—and only 3 hours to retrace our steps. The following day was sunny and we spent the day hiking around to the different lakes. Many of the lakes, including Portal, were full of small trout (up to 8-9″).

Nick Shahe Kevin

Nick Shahe Kevin

Day 5: Portal Lake to Large Meadow: 12 miles.

Drop from 10,400′ to 9,200′, back up to 10,200′, and then back down to 9,200′.

Profile Day 3

10,400′ – 9,200′ – 10,200′ – 9,200′

We debated finding a cross country way out, but ended up taking the trails out. We were going to lunch again at Half Moon, but this time the mosquitoes were horrendous, so we quickly moved on after a quick dip

Kevin hiking

Kevin hiking

Shahe swimming

Shahe swimming

At Crown Pass we continued south to do a loop back. We stopped at Crown Lake, planning on staying the night there. It was a great developed campsite, but again the mosquitoes were thick, and it was only 3:00. We caught some fish in the lake. We cooked them over a camp fire and had a hearty lunch. We then headed on, figuring we’d hike until evening and  find a good place to camp.


Kevin and Shahe catch dinner

The mosquitoes stayed bad, and as it got to be evening we ended up just finding a place off the trail to camp (just shy of the junction heading us west), although there was no good water nearby, and the mosquitoes did not let up in the least. So we ate in the tent and just hunkered down until morning.

Day 6: Large Meadow to Wishon Lake: 11 miles (9,200′ to 6,800)

Profile Day 4

9,200′ – 9,600′ – 6,500′

The mosquitoes were of course as bad as ever in the morning, so we took off early (6:00) without even having breakfast first. We got to the junction soon after we started hiking to head back west over the mild Chuck Pass for a 400′ climb. After that the day was almost all downhill through meadows and woods. We were back at the car by 1:00.

Nick with Pack


To see the full set of pictures from this hike you can link here to my Flickr album

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