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Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture

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A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 08:13PM
After taking a few weeks off*, once again I left the Bay Area Friday afternoon heading towards the mountains. The advance party had left the previous day, but had encountered unexpected weather: 6" of snow in early July! As I drove through Yosemite, much of the high country was cloaked in low, dark clouds; fortunately they were high enough that some light could penetrate them near sunset.



The air was chillier on the short walks I took at Olmsted Point and Tioga Pass than it had been since around New Years Day.



There were still significant patches of snow in the forests from Dana Meadows to the pass, and Mt. Dana had a fresh dusting of snow.





The next morning I met up with the late advance party (they blame their tardiness on the motel's breakfast buffet) at Silver Lake, where we staged a car for the out day. After driving to the Mammoth ski area and purchasing our tickets, we were on the shuttle to Agnew Meadow, where we were soon heading up the River Trail to Thousand Island Lake.

Despite the recent fire restrictions, someone felt it would be a good idea to carry extra wood.




The views improved as the trail climbed higher, although for a significant portion it avoided being anywhere near the river.



Past the unsigned spur trail to Garnet Lake were some nice waterfalls and pools.



Eventually the trail leveled out and we got our first peeks at Banner Peak.



Not long thereafter we were at the eastern shore of Thousand Island Lake, where several hikers were stopping to enjoy the view--much like our JMT group had done last year--except no one was swimming due to a rather chilly breeze.



We hurried around the north shore of the lake and eventually found a somewhat private, wind-protected campsite, where we quickly pitched our tent. The forecast had been for only slight chances of precipitation, but the dark clouds building above us didn't seem to have read the same forecast.



It sprinkled on us a few times throughout the afternoon and evening, but it never really rained. Unfortunately, the chilly breeze made boating the lake a rather unappealing option. It was nice to just hang out and watch the clouds.


The Great Chick-on Spirit?



The forecast for Sunday had been clear, but the clouds we saw that morning were not cooperating.



There was still a bit of a breeze, so we took it easy and had a leisurely pancake breakfast. After packing, we decided to walk to the head of the lake and take advantage of the wind to float us towards the outlet.



Just as we got the inflantry sea-worthy, the clouds cleared above us, and we were on the water.



As an experiment I tried to rig a primitive sail with my trekking poles and pack cover--the jury is still out if it was a net benefit.


"Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world."

The water was choppy in places, but our boats were stable, even with full packs. On the other hand, Thousand Island Lake has many (but far fewer than a thousand) islands, which meant that we often found ourselves paddling around ones that the wind was pushing us directly towards. Also, the reason the lake has so many islands is that it's not very deep, and in a few places it was hard to find a deep enough passage between islands. Towards the end, I bottomed out in one such channel, and a sharp rock punctured the floor of my boat--something I realized after noticing I was sitting in a puddle of water. Fortunately, the inflatable "tube" portion of the boat was intact, allowing me to paddle briskly to a take-out point, leaving the others far behind. (I tried to indicate that I'd had a "flat" by holding up my boat and poking my finger through the hole, but having boats that were not taking on water, they were relaxing a bit and were too far away to notice...) Even with the damage, we succeeded in floating most of the length of the lake.



After deflating the boats, enjoying lunch, and repacking everything, we decided to head to Silver Lake via Island Pass, which offered great views of the lake we had just crossed and the opportunity to chat with a seemingly endless stream of JMT hikers.



We were soon at the top of the pass; from here, it would be downhill all the way to Silver Lake--at least in theory.


Okay, I promise, this is the last picture of Banner Peak...

There were a few nice patches of wildflowers along the trail to Rush Creek.



The hike around Waugh Lake involved a lot of ups and downs. Despite it still being early in the season, this artificial lake was already being drained into Gem Lake.



Right before we arrived at Gem Lake, we passed a nice meadow before the steep climb past Billy Lake...



...in which a family of ducks was having fun in the water.



At Gem Lake we checked out some of the old infrastructure from the dam's early days.



We also walked though where we believe "Little Hollywood" had once been--all that remained were a few flattened spots where cabins were once located. As we continued around Gem Lake, the trail treated us to several more up-and-down segments--I think AT hikers refer to these as "PUDs" (pointless up-and-downs...).



Soon we crested above the Gem Lake Dam and could see our final drop down to Alger Lake and beyond.



The trail closely followed some of the infrastructure for the Gem Lake power generation--the large pipe from the lake itself...



...then later the steep cable car that was used to haul equipment up to the various dams.



Looking back we could see the impressive falls of Rush Creek below Agnew Lake.



And finally, in the shadows of the setting sun, we could see the Silver Lake trailhead.



We had taken longer hiking out than we'd expected, and we didn't arrive home until early morning, but we had no regrets.



More Pictures



* Okay, I took one weekend off to pack for a camping trip while JKW and the gang checked out Benson Lake. The other weekend was spent glamping--does that still count as a weekend off?
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 08:26PM
Wow looks like you had a great trip! Shame about the raft, is it fixable?
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 08:59PM
He's already patched his.

Mine had a gash from our mega-day hike back when. We hit Laurel lake. 4" gash. took 10 minutes to dry and prep boat, 10 minutes to wait for patch to set. I've been boating in that boat ever since. Lots of boating, with and without pack. Amazing little boats!
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 09:26PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
He's already patched his.

Mine had a gash from our mega-day hike back when. We hit Laurel lake. 4" gash. took 10 minutes to dry and prep boat, 10 minutes to wait for patch to set. I've been boating in that boat ever since. Lots of boating, with and without pack. Amazing little boats!

Which brand is it? I was considering a Sevylor but not sure about the quality
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 09:50PM
Supai Adventure Gear

I'll do link when on device that can.

I have little Canyon Flatwater II.

Guys have Matkat, new this year. Matkat Is bigger, rated capacity of 300lbs as opposed to my boat's 250 pounds.
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 15, 2015 11:14AM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
Supai Adventure Gear

I'll do link when on device that can.

I have little Canyon Flatwater II.

Guys have Matkat, new this year. Matkat Is bigger, rated capacity of 300lbs as opposed to my boat's 250 pounds.

Hmmm might have to consider getting two of these for an early xmas gift for the miss and I!

Thanks!
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 15, 2015 01:58PM
Supai Adventure Gear

Again, I and our friend A have the Canyon Flatwater II, Basilbop and Chick-on, and our friend E have the Matkat.

E and A previously had used the Ruta Locura Klymit-designed boats. But liked our Supais better. We like our Supais better, too! thumbs up



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/15/2015 02:00PM by JustKeepWalking.
avatar Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 15, 2015 03:00PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
Supai Adventure Gear

Chick-on...have the Matkat.

Too bad though it isn't offered in different colors. Imagine the (increased) visual-pop his photos would have, if he were pictured paddling about the various alpine lakes in a pink boat! smiling smiley
avatar Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 15, 2015 05:25PM
JKS - love it! Bad back, sore Achilles, separated shoulder says she in the last month...and I chase her for many miles down to Benson Lake! It took me a week to recover!
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 16, 2015 10:13AM
I've have a number of Seylor Pack Rafts. They kept getting mystery leaks, but the were a lot of fun.
Finally I sprained my ankle hiking out of Warren Lake north of I 80 (beautiful place)with the raft and I decided
I really needed a lighter pack, a raft free pack. It was fun while it lasted.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/16/2015 10:19AM by lschaaf.
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 16, 2015 11:13AM
Quote
lschaaf
I've have a number of Seylor Pack Rafts. They kept getting mystery leaks, but the were a lot of fun.
Finally I sprained my ankle hiking out of Warren Lake north of I 80 (beautiful place)with the raft and I decided
I really needed a lighter pack, a raft free pack. It was fun while it lasted.

Most of the PVC rafts (like Sevylor or Intex) tend to be much heavier and leak-prone than boats like the Supais, Klymits, or Ruta Locuras--these use nylons that are similar to what is used on inflatable sleeping pads. Of course, an Intex Explorer 200 with paddles is maybe 1/20th the cost of a Supai setup, but probably 2-4x the weight.
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 08:57PM
Quote
basilbop
The next morning I met up with the late advance party (they blame their tardiness on the motel's breakfast buffet) at Silver Lake, where we staged a car for the out day.

In my defense, I needed the break, cuz I'd hurt my back (what's new?) digging around a bear box at Tuolumne Meadows campground on the morning of the 4th of July! I ended up prone on my back watching fireworks.. And having PT sessions to try to work it out after returning, before taking of again. Anyway, I was not going to sleep on cold, wet rock or mud while waiting for Basilbop to arrive. And the waffles and french toast were good. And the hard boiled egg. And the unlimited coffee.. And yogurts. Oh, and the donut. I did hold off eating eclairs. Until we picked up Basilbop. I was hungry.

Quote
basilbop
Despite the recent fire restrictions, someone felt it would be a good idea to carry extra wood.




Oh my goodness. Until I saw this video, I did not know HOW Basilbop had put the huge stick on Chick-on's pack. Now I know. The Evil Pink One (no longer Great Pink One) was trying to do something to my pack. Regular readers of our posts know that Basilbop and Chick-on have developed a habit of putting *stuff* on each others' packs. And Chick-on has a tendency to steal my crocs... he was at a loss of what to do this trip, however, since I'd brilliantly left them in the car! So he was up to no good when Basilbop took the opportunity to attach that log.. Chick-on was too distracted with his dastardly actions.

Anyway, a while later, I ended up in back.. and saw... and Chick-on had just said something detrimental about me... and I started laughing. Hard. Uncontrollably. I could NOT breathe. I could NOT walk. I had to hang back... for several reasons... one of which was that if anyone was catching up, I was going to plead with them to NOT say anything about the wood! I wanted it to last as long as possible. It was a relatively LONG time. A half mile? it was over a hundred feet of elevation gain, i'm sure of that. I could NOT believe he hadn't figured it out. But it was obvious when he finally did... But I had to stop so many times... I crumpled. I laughed. Laughed and laughed. He had NO CLUE. Basilbop was masterful on this one... kept a straight face the entire time he was hiking with Chick-on.

Later in the trip, the last day near Waugh Lake, I found a horseshoe and gave it to Chick-on. He tried desperately to attach it to Basilbop's pack.. but Basilbop was super-paranoid and the horseshoe was recalcitrant, so that didn't work out nearly as well as I'd hoped...

Oh..and one more gag... Chick-on had gone on ahead near Waugh (we were near Waugh a LONG freaking time) and hid behind a tree or boulder and jumped out and spooked me. I really yelped and jumped. But after that.. I was leery. Very leery. And I found it amusing how he thought I couldn't see him maneuvering into position behind other trees. He is very bird-like in his "I can't see you, so you can't see me." behaviors.

Quote
basilbop
(I tried to indicate that I'd had a "flat" by holding up my boat and poking my finger through the hole, but having boats that were not taking on water, they were relaxing a bit and were too far away to notice...)

Yah, we were supposed to see your finger sticking through the floor of your boat when you'd zipped away several hundred yards? I could see you were holding your boat. I thought you were trying to shake excess water off it. I wondered why you'd shot off like you did... Glad you weren't hurt. BTW, Chick-on and I both beached in the same general shallows. Luckily, we didn't suffer any tears/punctures. Tricky.

I was also pleased that my flipper held up, even when we had to fight the wind to get around rocks. Whew.. getting there...knock on wood.

Quote
basilbop
We were soon at the top of the pass; from here, it would be downhill all the way to Silver Lake--at least in theory.

Oh boy. The three of us are all experienced. Heck, I've been on the trail in question before. On the way UP. I LOVE Island Pass, which I've been over several times. I'm referring to the trail from the junction with the JMT to Silver Lake. I've hiked it uphill. I had no real memory of it, other than Waugh having been drained and all the side creeks were dry, and being very thirsty by the time we reached the far end of Waugh and the trickle that was Rush Creek then. Anyway. We all had GPS devices with maps. We all could have paid more attention. We didn't. Chick-on and I both swear we heard Basilbop rattle off "7 miles" if we go Island and by Waugh out. I figured he'd be off by a few miles. Usually is optimistic. But off by a factor of 2? Yup, we did about 14 miles of hiking that day. After the leisurely morning, and the boat ride. We had the zip-out-via-River-Trail for 8 miles, or the "5 miles" going through Spooky Meadow to Silver. I put a nix on Spooky right off. My back wasn't up to it, I was pretty sure. And again, both Chick-on and I thought Basilbop said going by Waugh was "around 7 miles"....

So, we all agreed to go Island Pass and by Waugh, Gem, Agnew and out.

Oh boy. The up and down... the constant up and down. In the mule-poop ridden trail. Dust. Loose sand. Loose rocks. Whoever thought that dropping those stupid sharp rolling rocks on a trail and calling it done... I want that person or persons punished with walking miles over that garbage. My back was my concern when I started - especially big down steps. But by the time I finished, my left ankle was acting up again. (Injured earlier this year. I thought was okay... maybe new, maybe old. Doesn't matter. It was squawking.)

At one point, I'd just passed the Gem Pass junction and Basilbop said "it's really all downhill from there"... I wanted to shoot him. I don't care if he is my hubby. I was going uphill. Hard. Again. I'd asked how much down earlier.. I was told 2000' down to go. Later, I'm told 2200' down to go.. Then 2400' down to go... It was a joke, but really, we didn't lose net elevation for a long time, but we were going up and down a whole heck of a lot. Couldn't really get into a good rhythm. I'm much better on a long haul up. Anyway, enough ranting. Sorry. The joys of hiking. All that said, the scenery was lovely! I do love the Eastern Sierra look and feel, rugged and stark at times, tough on the feet at others. Always lovely.

Quote
basilbop
We had taken longer hiking out than we'd expected, and we didn't arrive home until early morning, but we had no regrets.

Basilbop and I entered our home at 2:11am. I remember, because I made it a point to look. Jeez. Last time we got home late like that... we'd done the GCT in a day.

Both were GREAT trips!

Thanks again to Chick-on and Basilbop for keeping me in stitches most of the trip! Their funny antics really add to my enjoyment of these trips.. and especially now.. really truly appreciated..



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/14/2015 08:57PM by JustKeepWalking.
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 14, 2015 09:22PM
Quote
basilbop
* Okay, I took one weekend off to pack for a camping trip while JKW and the gang checked out Benson Lake. The other weekend was spent glamping--does that still count as a weekend off?

Since you slept in a tent, hiked to Lower Cathedral Lake and boated it, and hiked down Tenaya Canyon and swam in the creek, and boated and swam in Tenaya Lake several times in and around other little backcountry adventures... I'd say you did NOT take a weekend off from most peoples' perspectives.

If you are going to be hard-core and say you have to be backpacking 50 miles over that duration of time... well, then.. maybe you slacked a bit.

But it was a win for you... it was gorgeous and it was fun!
avatar Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 15, 2015 10:15AM
As always... thanks for the great company...

Speak softly and carry a Big Stick!

Z Old Stick N Fedders and JKS on 1000


jks = just keep sandbaggin



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: A Thousand Islands, A Hundred Hikers, A Single Puncture
July 15, 2015 10:39AM
JKS Head roll

Great report and photos--thanks for posting!
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