Saturday, May 3, 2014

White Clouds: Chamberlain Basin

Looking at Castle Peak, on top of Blackman Peak

Every Summer before I head back to school my father and I head into the White Clouds for about four days and fish like mad men. This year we went from the Stanley side into the Chamberlain Basin. Right as we left the car I was going to climb Blackman Peak while he started up the trail and we would meet at Chamberlain Lake that evening. When I got done climbing Blackman Peak, I was beat. I should have never climbed it with a 40 pound pack on but once I dropped down into Fourth of July Lake my legs were back.
Chamberlain Lake with Castle Peak

Washington Lake
Once I got to Washington Lake, I sat and had lunch and then I decided to do a little fishing because I was going to go over the ridge between Washington Lake and Chamberlain Lake so I would be way ahead of my dad since he followed the trail and went all the way around. Fishing wasn't much good at Washington Lake but all I saw was a lot of smaller fish and a ton of frogs. Once I got to Chamberlain Lake the fishing was on, 16 inch cuttys about every 10 minutes and it got even better after dinner. I even got tired of it and when to Upper Chamberlain Lake and it was still good.
Chamberlain Basin

Castle Peak
Castle Peak from Little Boulder
Castle Lake
Old Miners Cabin
Castle Peak left, Merriam Peak right

The next day we planned on going all the way to Quiet Lake but we were going to play it by ear and we ended up staying at Baker Lake which wasn't bad since we stayed awhile at Castle Lake. When we hiked over the pass from Chamberlain Basin into Little Boulder Creek I finally encounter my first mountain goat, which was great to finally see one know I just need to find one in Wildhorse or Fall Creek. This day was more about relaxing and getting some fishing done which we did at Castle. The fishing was good wherever we fished and whatever we fished with. Also when we came off the pass we hiked right into an old miners cabin and some old mining pits that you could walk down into. I was talking with some older people from my internship last semester and they ran into the same cabin and then said that they actually stayed the night there.
Since we stayed the night at Baker Lake we had a short hike to Noise Lake, which is an absolute amazing lake to hike to and an even harder lake to take a panorama of. Half the lake is surrounded by a 200ft cliff and the rest is covered in thick trees. We only stayed here for a quick bite to eat and eventually left after I got about twenty fish in 30 minutes. We knew we wanted to spend all are time at Quiet Lake since it holds much bigger fish. When we got to the lake we dropped are packs and instantly began fishing. Once we dialed in on what they were taking it was a hayday. I never had a day where my forearm got tired from fighting fish all day and decent size fish. The picture below was one of the smaller ones that I caught and my dads biggest fish from a high mountain lake coming in at 22 inches. When it got closer to evening the thunderstorms rolled in and sent us for the tent. After about an hour in the tent it let up a bit so I tried getting out to fish more and then got hit by another rain storm that had be pushed under a rock for a good hour and then I gave up and took my soaking body back to the tent to wait it out. Thank goodness for my air mattress to keep me off the wet floor and my compression sack for keeping some of my clothes dry for the next day out.

Quiet Lake
View from Patterson Peak
Castle Peak from Patterson Peak
The last day we left Quiet Lake pretty early and wet. A lot of my clothes, tent and sleeping back were still wet but what can you do about it. We headed up to Four Lakes Basin and then over the ridge down into Fourth of July lake. Once I got myself to the ridge I dropped my bag and hiked back down to grab my dads bag then left that at the ridge. I still had some time so I thought I would climb Patterson Peak and then meet up with my dad on the way down. This was an amazing trip that I would love to do over again every year. I would love to take some of my friends along for the ride and show them were I grew up as a kid. I believe the first time I went to the White Clouds was when I was five years old when my dad took me and I know I will be doing the same thing with my kids. The White Clouds will always be my favorite place to hike and I hope I can continue to drag my father back in there because he's the only thing that drags me out.
Top of Patterson Peak


  1. Great posts Scott. Thanks for the great photos and reports. We are hoping to ski Castle in June and yours are some of the best 'beta' photos around. Thanks. Looks like some fun trips.

  2. Great info and photos. Thanks for taking the time to post. Hope you're still taking your annual sojurns into the White Clouds!