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We embarked on another backpacking trip to the Sierra's in August 2011. We got our permits a few months earlier and our two families drove up to Mammoth and car camped. On Friday, the six of us (Alan and I and our sons) headed out to the Agnew Meadows trailhead. We had planned to hiked to a few lakes with our main destination being Thousand Island Lake. We had to adapt our plan due to the heavy snow pack this year. Originally, our plan when we applied for the permits, was to climb to the top of Banner Peak. The snow pack was too great with many snow fields to cross with our boys. So we adjusted our plan and things worked out great. In all, we covered about 18 miles of backpacking over 3 days (2 nights).

Friday morning we caught the 10 am Shuttle bus that takes people down to Red's Meadow. Our stop was the first stop at the Agnew Meadows trailhead. We knew we had plenty of time to hike today so did not feel rushed into starting earlier. We got dropped off about 10:30 and proceeded to hike. We hiked the river trail into the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area. We crossed the San Joaquin river and headed up to Shadow lake where we lunched about 1:20. We spent about an hour relaxing and then hit the trail again only to join the John Muir Trail that would take us northward.

We hiked northward for a few miles. Originally our plan was to stop by 3 or 4pm and camp for the night. However, we kind of spread out a bit with Andrew and Zac hiking ahead to the Pass above Garnet lake. We got there about 4:45. They had been waiting an hour for the rest of the group. We found a great spot to camp on the pass but before we realized it the boys had started hiking forward and down towards Garnet Lake. We caught up and then found a nice flat shelf above Garnet lake. We set up camp and the boys enjoyed glissading down some snow patches and relaxing their feet in the lake water. Later the played cards in the tents and then we had dinner of freeze dried lasagna and instant potatoes. We also pumped some water. There were other backpackers camped across the lake so we did some signaling with our flashlights back and forth.

The next morning we woke up to a stunning lake reflection, packed up and hiked around the lake, crossed a foot bridge and pumped more water before our next climb up and over another saddle. We reached Thousand Island Lake about 12:15 and rested on the lake's south end for a while. This lake was spectacular with the view and beauty. We then proceeded around to the north end of the lake and set up a camp spot and had lunch. After lunch all the boys got into the lake and proceeded to walk, swim and hop around several mini rock islands until the found the perfect jumping rock. The water was cold but the boys had a blast jumping off of the rock. The rock was about 10 feet above the water.

We relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon with playing cards, short walks, and pumping more water. I talked with the lead of a pack mule group. As the afternoon wore on, more backpackers set up camp around the lake. We estimated that there were about 25-35 tents around the lake. This was a large lake and clearly a key stopping spot for those traveling the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.

We ate dinner and enjoyed chatting during the evening. The next morning we woke up and packed up and were on the trail around 9am. We hiked out and down the valley back to the river trail and back to the Agnew Meadows Trailhead.

This was a great trip with great weather, great views and great friends. For the most part our gear and food were just right. We saw a few deer, no bears. There were a lot of wildflowers and the people on the trail were friendly. We saw no ranger which surprised us given the popularity of this trail. As you can tell from the pictures, this location had some awesome scenery. Something we might would do again sometime.

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Jeff's Backpacking Trips

Sierra Nevada: Thousand Island Lake