I've wanted to catch a Golden Trout for a long time, and since moving to Washington four months ago I've been studying stocking reports and maps of high lakes. I figured Labor Day weekend was a good time to try a lake that had been relatively recently stocked with them (2012), where almost nobody goes, because there's no trail and it's crazy to try to get there. The trip started with 3,000 vertical feet of this sort of thing: From there on the route got easier in places (huckleberry meadows), but much worse/scarier/steeper in others. I really should not have been up there alone. I did, at least, catch some pretty Cutthroat at a lake 600 feet below my destination for Golden Trout, which was a pleasant surprise since this one wasn't listed in any stocking reports. Fish of all sizes were active and rising all over, but I didn't want to linger too long so I only caught enough to make sure they weren't Golden escapees from above. In the afternoon of the second day of the trip I finally reached my destination lake, and fish were rising. They proved difficult, though. I could see them well, briefly cruising into the shallows and then back out into the depths, occasionally rising once in a spot before moving on. Unlike the Cuttthroat in the lake below that would slam any dry fly in their general direction, these Goldens were easily spooked by a line landing on the water, and they weren't feeding consistently on the surface. I saw maybe 15 fish during 5 hours of fishing in the afternoon, missed 3 strikes, and had no hookups. It was really demoralizing after so much work and stress to come so extremely close and not quite make it. My last chance would be in the morning, but I couldn't afford more than an hour or two at most to fish, because I would need most of the day for the downclimb. I was up at the crack of dawn lacing my boots when a fish started rising consistently, right in front of camp. This time luck was on my side. It was the only consistent riser that morning, and the only fish I needed to catch. The sun rose shortly thereafter, and I broke camp. The climb back down to the car was a brutal 11 hours on steep, sketchy slopes. I got back to the car bruised, cut, blistered, parched, more exhausted than I've ever been (including sheep hunting in Alaska), and stung by a mess of yellowjackets. Two days later it still hurts my legs to stand up. I never need to go this radically off the beaten path for a trout again, but I'm glad I got one. I posted a much more detailed trip report on my website with more pictures. The lakes are still anonymous, though. Partly I don't want to throw any extra pressure at Golden Trout, but that's not too much of a concern here. It's more that I don't want to encourage anyone else (unless they're in superb shape and with a tested partner) to take on this ridiculous hike. All the places to find these fish are hard to reach, but most of them should be much easier than this. I'll be doing one of those next time.