|Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA|
|Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA|| |
Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA
|Backpack||26.66 Miles||3 Days |
|4,673 ft AEG|
|Two years ago I hiked through one of the most amazing stretches of trail I have ever seen! I was three days into the JMT and cruised through here totally in awe. One of my big regrets was not spending more time in this section known as The Minarets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. I said then I would return and here I am accompanied by Claire for three days in pure heaven!
Day 1 - Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake
Our journey started on the Reds Meadow Shuttle that costs seven dollars for each of us. We took this shuttle and were dropped off at Agnew Meadow. We got situated and started hiking on the River Trail. The PCT comes through here and follows the High Trail. We meet again near Thousand Island Lake.
The first few miles of trail are easy going with nice views and good trail as you descend into a valley and then start the climb roughly 3.5 miles in. The next few miles make a steady climb as you parallel the river. There were lots of cool campsites and the water was gushing and the views were just stunning! We continued up and passed a couple of trail junctions and then turned to the west where we caught our first glimpse of Banner Peak. It dominants the landscape with it's beauty and grandeur! Next up was Thousand Island Lake and an intersection with the John Muir Trail. We continued west and found a sweet camp nestled between some boulders and a few trees. It's perfect!
The rest of the day was spent setting up camp and doing camp chores. We eventually settled in and soaked in the views. This place is truly spectacular! After dinner we went for a walk to the west along the lake. This place is pure magic and it goes on and on. There is pretty much unlimited camping the farther west you went. You cannot go wrong. We returned to camp and settled in as it didn't get dark to after 8:30pm. Some JMT hikers came into the area. It was noisy for a bit buy dead silence as dusk set in. Thru hikers go to bed early!
A storm moved in overnight and lasted about thirty minutes. There was moderate rain accompanied with flashes followed closely by thunder. It was a little unnerving but was fine.
Day 2 - Day hike around Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes
We had a relaxing morning where we ate oatmeal and drank coffee. I watched a marmot and chipmunk battle for territory. They were sparring in our camp and it was very entertaining!
Later in the morning we got our day packs put together and headed out for a day hike. The going was very easy as we worked our way west along the north shore of Thousand Island Lake. Before long we turned south and stopped at a cascade coming off Banner. I drank a bunch of unfiltered water and it was cold and delicious!
Our next goal was the pass separating Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes. It required hiking up 400 ft of easy off-trail with some scrambling. Once up top we followed the ridgeline to the northeast for the best views. Thousand Island Lake sits to the north while Garnet Lake lies below us to the south. Words cannot describe the beauty. We sat in awe!
From there we dropped down to Garnet Lake and settled in for some lunch and relaxation. It was a beautiful and clear day and life was good! After lunch we continued east on a use trail that lead back to the JMT. From there it was roughly two miles north to return to camp. We found several large groups showed up. Luckily it wasn't a big deal as everyone was in bed early. That's the good thing about backpacking...too tired to stay up late.
Day 3 - Thousand Island Lake to Agnew Meadow via the JMT and Shadow Lake
We woke on day three and again took our time. All the big groups from last night packed up early and hiked out. We enjoyed our last view and then tore down camp and packed up. We hit the trail around mid-morning. Our plan is to follow the JMT six miles south and exit view Shadow Lake.
We started off with overcast skies but no threat of rain. The going was very easy as we passed Emerald and Ruby Lakes. There is a nice set of switchbacks leading up from Ruby. Once up top we continued across and dropped down the outlet below Garnet Lake. We took a break in the exact same spot I rested two years ago. We ate some snacks and filtered some water. I used the standard Sawyer Squeeze for this trip and it worked wonderfully.
After lunch we headed up more switchbacks and continued south. The next few miles flew by as it was all downhill. We passed the Ediza Lake turnoff, lot's of good camping here, and continued on towards Shadow Lake. We official left the JMT above Shadown. We took another break at the lake and then proceeded down Shadow Creek where we reconnected onto the River Trail. From there it was a few easy miles back to Agnew Meadows where we picked up the bus and completed another memorable trip.