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2014-10-02  
Rush Creek Trail, CA
mini location map2014-10-02
11 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Rush Creek Trail, CA 
Rush Creek Trail, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 02 2014
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking6.30 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking6.30 Miles   5 Hrs   50 Mns   1.08 mph
2,000 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This hike starts at a TH near Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop off of HW395 in the Eastern Sierras. I saw the trail on the map and thought it should be a beautiful hike to mountain lakes high up in a glacier carved canyon. At the TH a information bulletin said the lakes were reservoirs created as part of a hydroelectric project built between 1915 and 1917 and still in use by Southern California Edison. This wasn't exactly the wilderness experience I had expected but being a retired gear head, it sounded interesting. So off I went. The trail gets its name from Rush Creek which is the water supply for the lakes. The hike sets off at a fairly steep climb to the dam on the first lake, Agnew Lake. About half way up the grade the trail crosses a cable car track that climbs steeply up the hill. It looked ancient so I wasn't sure if it was still in use but when I reached the dam, there was a car sitting on the track. It is still used for maintenance work on the dam. On my return I would get to see maintenance workers riding it back down the hill at the end of their workday. The track is so steep that it didn't look safe to me - I'd rather hike.

Agnew Lake was very low, probably at its natural height before the dam was built, so not all that picturesque. The trail continued past Agnew Lake climbing up to the next dam on Gem Lake. It was a steep exhausting hike. On the way I was passed by a statuesque lady of approximately the same vintage as me. She glided along with ease and soon disappeared ahead of me. I noticed a gentleman struggling up the trail some distance behind me who I would later find out was with the lady. He caught up with me when I took a detour to talk to the maintenance guys at the first dam. He asked if I had seen a lady hiking up the trail - turns out she was supposed to wait at the dam for him but had obviously kept going to the second lake. He was exhausted and decided to wait for her telling me to inform her that he would wait until 2:15 pm and then return to the car. She passed me on her way back down. I suspect this was not an unusual occurrence with these two.

I reached the second dam on Gem Lake but was running out of steam. This lake, Gem Lake, was larger and much more picturesque than the lower lake. There was another cable car track running up to the base of the dam from the upper end of Agnew Lake. Workers had to use a boat to cross Agnew Lake after ascending the first cable car track to reach this cable car. After enjoying the views across Gem Lake I decided to return to the TH rather than continue on to the head of Gem Lake as I had originally planned.
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Culture
Railroad Right-of-Way
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