North Fork road is getting real bad - starting to become the moonscape of potholes that the old mid fork resembled.
We ascended via Bare Mt trail and dropped the saddle - should have followed the ridge more to the slabs. Rock-fields were cooking by 1pm. Upper Paradise fished decently, cuts and bows. Bugs even pleasantly stayed off till evening - might have just been too hot.
The next morning we packed up camp and deflated the raft and headed up the rocks for Bear Lakes. Interestingly - looks like these lakes were created by damming the outflow, by miners I presume? Lakes looked completely empty of fish, but were swarming with mayflies. With the lake dammed and two feet higher, could see this potentially holding fish better, but for now its a frog and insect heaven.
Long hot walk out and down and a bouncy hour and a half to the pavement - N Fork is surely in its finest, most rugged form right now.
I've been to Bear Lakes several times but always with snow. Your speculation about it being dammed is really interesting and looking at your pic I agree. And it makes sense because of all the mining operations that were in this valley.
I wonder if that's the same reason Snow Lake was dammed - one mystery I keep chewing on. But to store water for mining operations doesn't make sense there. Snow Lake is so big and deep that an extra couple of feet of depth isn't much of an improvement. Maybe there was an obscure law that you could only draw off what you retained via building outlet dams.
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