Since I am posting here, you can all safely assume that I made it back from my first backpacking expedition, right? Or… maybe I was kidnapped by a band of brigands in the canyons and one of them came back to write this post in the first person, using Without a Map as a platform to collect ransom.
Nah, I made it back okay.
Despite the initial nervousness, the trip was a resounding success. We had planned to take the Shadow Creek trail to Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake, but that pass was gone by the time we got to the ranger (5 minutes after the station opened) the permits were gone. Instead, we chose the River Trail, which lead us to Garnet Lake.
The trail was easier than I expected and I was quite proud of my endurance until we reached the climb up to the lake. 1000 feet in less than half a mile. Hearing the figures, I recalled a hike I almost killed Amanda on in Laguna and that one’s 1000 feet in a mile. No one offered me an opportunity to turn around (and I wasn’t up for hiking back about 6 miles at that point) so I soldiered on. After that last ascent, I was ready to swear off backpacking, hiking, and perhaps even walking for the rest of my life, but the view at the top changed my mind.
Half the trip, I felt like I had walked out of the pages of Outdoor magazine. Pumping water, storing stuff in bear cans, eating dehydrated food… It was all so fascinating to me in a way I’m sure is unique to first-time backpackers everywhere.
I wasn’t so enamored with the peeing in the bushes, but it can’t all be wildflowers and mule deer, I guess.
The clouds looked beautiful, but they rained on us like clockwork both days.
The second day, we left our camp where it was and day hiked over to Thousand Island lake.
Thousand Island is bigger and has another view of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter. It does not, however, have a thousand islands. We counted and there are somewhere around 80. So Hundred Island Lake would be a more fitting name. While I’m on that, I would like to know why a place that has a Garnet, Ruby and Emerald Lake has no Sapphire Lake. Isn’t that the color lake’s usually are anyway? I need to have a talk with the Mammoth Lakes Naming Commission.
The next morning, we found evidence that a bear had been through the campsite, but we completely missed seeing him. We did get an amazing view of the Milky Way and more stars than I thought existed the night before though, so it came out even in the end.
We left Garnet early in the morning, and headed back the same way we came. The climb down was treacherous, but less taxing than the trip up. Two days of rain had given the river a little pep in its step so the crossing was a little harder.
Before we made it back to civilization, we got one last look at Mother Nature’s work Last year, a wind storm had gone through Agnew Meadows, knocking down 86% of the trees. I took a picture of this example. The strong winds speared this tree on that metal spike and while almost all of the damage has been removed, this still remains
Returning to Agnew Meadows was bittersweet. On one hand, I was dreading leaving the beauty and solitude of the mountains, but on the other there was a vault toilet.
P.S. If you have seven minutes and want to see a bit of our hike from Garnet to Thousand Island (the second lake you see in the video is Ruby), the boyfriend has a time lapse he took on his Go Pro. Check it out!
P.P.S. Anyone know what the title of this post is from? If so I’ll give you a nerd high five.