Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Vernel Fall, Merced River, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (84% of Full)


Re: Backpacking Advice

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

Backpacking Advice
August 12, 2011 06:28AM
Hey everyone, before I get to my question, I just want to say how much I enjoy this forum. Kudos to Chick-on, Eeek, and all the regulars for providing such a great public service to the Yosemite hiking community. Not to mention such a great time suck! smiling smiley I used the information here extensively for my first trip to the park last November (took a few days after a business trip to SF) and had a GREAT time. It had just snowed and Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road were closed, the valley had beautiful fall foliage, and there was about a foot of snow on the rim. More above that of course, but the snow made everything that much more gorgeous. I wasn't able to do Clouds Rest, but Four Mile, and Mist/JMT Nevada loop were awesome. A simply magical time to be in Yosemite.

So now I am returning with my husband and 11 year old daughter. We are flying in from Boston and doing a 19 day California tour, including a few days in Kings Canyon/Sequoia, and a week in the Yosemite area. The current plan is three days in the front country with some day hiking and kid friendly activities and a 4 day 3 night backpack. I selected and have permit for Ansel Adams River Trail/Shadow Trail, Thousand Island Lake/Garnet Lake/Ediza Lake loop from Agnew Meadow -- around 18 miles. Frankly, I get different milage numbers and elevation gain from different sources, but what is new, eh?

I'm seeking advice on the route's suitability and possible ways to shorten the itinerary-- or any other trip suggestions that you thinkwould be better. The permits are taken for most of the top Yosemite destnations. My concern is not me-- I just did a Rocky Mountain backpack solo including 12,500 pass and 10 mile 3,500 gain days. My daughter is the worry. She wont be carrying any real weight but is a somewhat reluctant hiker. She went with me on a two-night three day backpack last summer, and complained constantly the first day which was only a few miles, did a longer day the next with only two complaints the whole time, and by the third day was leading the way and having a great time. She climbed MT Washington a few years ago and we did another NH peak recently, so I know she is capable. My husband's also pretty out of shape. We have lightweight gear and will be working to keep weight down.

Any advice would be appreciated, and thanks again for being such a great resource!
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 12, 2011 10:56AM
I will be hiking to Thousand Island Lake 3rd week of September except I am going up the PCT and coming back John Muir - I plan on just doing an overnight and flyfish Thousand Island and Garnet - Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island looks like about a 2000 foot gain and the JMT is supposed to be fairly gradual incline most of the way about 7 miles (PCT appears to immediately go up 1000 ft from Agnew and then gradually up to the lake with the exception of right before the lake) Word is that weather can change quickly here so make sure to bring warm clothes in case you get snowed on (if you are going in September) - and rainstorms can happen in an instant. Don't need to mention to you the Bear Canister requirements - reports of lots of bears in this area which surprises me a little since Thousand Island is at 10,000 FT but there are many in Reds Meadows which the JMT goes through.

I have three daughters and I think it's just their nature to complain at first - I ignore it and it tends to go away after time but she will be fine staying up with you - It's us older people who are out of shape that you need to worry about - But 4 days, three nights in this area is very doable in my opinion - take your time and enjoy the scenery - Thousand Island Lake is one of the most photographed places by Ansel Adams - It's very pretty. There is a charge to drive down to Agnew Meadows after Mammoth Mountain - think it's $8.

Although I have been in CA for more than 20 years, I grew up in Arlington, MA and have backpacked alot in the White mountains of NH as well as the presidential range. MT Washington is a good test for this hike. Remember you are higher up though here in CA and the overall terrain is a steeper and air is thinner - However, In my opinion, nothing can beat the Sierras as far as beauty goes - I think you are going to have a great time
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 12, 2011 12:43PM
Thanks SoCalCPA. I hope you have a great trip! We are planning on fishing too and will be there in two weeks. Definitely an attraction for my daughter. And yes, we have list of light warm things. Hoping for no rain though (but are prepared for the worse)

Has anyone camped at Garnet Lake ot taken the trail that runs from the River trail to the mouth of Garnet? I read in one trip report that there is no good place to camp at Garnet, but that seems strange. The spur trail from River to Garnet, which is nameless on my map, looks a little steep, but would cut off a few miles rather than going up to Thousand, which we (or I) could do as a day hike. That wouldn't be my preferred itinerary, but want to have options if the troops seem too tired.
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 12, 2011 03:10PM
The JMT between Reds Meadow and Thousand Island Lake has two fairly significant ups and downs: one each for Shadow and Garnet Lake. The most gradual route is the river trail from Agnew Meadow, but it's also the least scenic. The portion of the JMT south of Shadow Lake isn't as scenic as the northern part, so I'd bypass it via the river trail using one of the cut-overs at Shadow or Garnet.

And Thousand Island Lake (and Garnet and Ediza and...) are infamous for their bears...

There is good camping on the north shore of Garnet, but you have to walk a bit around the lake to get to it. Thousand Island lake has tons of (IMHO better) camping north of the lake (in fact, all the way to Thousand Island Pass). Both lakes have camping restrictions near their outlets.
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 13, 2011 08:14AM
Basilbop - Thanks on the clarification regarding JMT and the river trail - I was mixing those trails up on my post
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 13, 2011 10:08AM
And Thousand Island Lake (and Garnet and Ediza and...) are infamous for their bears....

Any worse than Yosemite front country campgrounds? The trip reports I've read haven't included bear encounters, although I have seen the cautionary info in many places. Should we be worried if we take the appropriate precautions? Bearicade expedition is on the way...
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 14, 2011 06:58PM
And Thousand Island Lake (and Garnet and Ediza and...) are infamous for their bears....

Any worse than Yosemite front country campgrounds? The trip reports I've read haven't included bear encounters, although I have seen the cautionary info in many places. Should we be worried if we take the appropriate precautions? Bearicade expedition is on the way...

If you camp in what are obviously established campsites, the bears will roll around the canisters and sometimes come back again after you shoo them away. Going off the beaten path reduces this considerably. They won't bother you, just whatever you've left out - they are curious and test everything that remotely seems interesting to them. I was using a small container for a tackle box and a bear put a neat tooth hole in the side of it.

Do shoo them away instead of letting them keep you up all night. If they ever learn how to crack open canisters on granite, who knows what we'll end up having to do.
avatar Re: Backpacking Advice
August 15, 2011 06:55AM
I guess I'm obligated to say sumtin.

If your daughter can do Mt. Washington I wouldn't worry about her so much.
Did you walk down too? Or take the Cog back down?
My funny story about Mt. Washington is that my brother-in-law and friend
of his and myself hiked up Mt. Washington... the friend was pretty
pathetic... for some stupid reason he was carrying a ridiculously heavy
pack and was dying... long story short... his friend took the Cog down..
we hiked down... and we beat him down.

You plan is good. Just go with a good map and try to get to 1000 on first day.
If you do that then worse case is go by Garnet and drop back down from
there to river trail out. That < 16 miles.
As basil said, BOATLOADS of camping N of 1000 and there is
camping N of Garnet... but you have to do some looking.

Only been in the area twice, camping at 1000 and Garnet, so that's all I got.

Have fun

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 15, 2011 10:51AM
I guess I'm obligated to say sumtin.

Never! But I appreciate it. And as I said, have really appreciated the board in general. Awesome, as we say in Massachusetts.

As for MT. Washington, we staid in the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut and went up and down the Ammonousic trail. So yes, foot power, but not as strenuous as all in one day.

And thanks for the bear tips AlmostThere. I'm sure bears rummaging through our stuff will really freak my daughter out. Maybe she will get used to it after some front country experiences, but if not, we may need to pick another trip.
avatar Re: Backpacking Advice
August 15, 2011 11:27AM
Do not worry about the bears. Just use the cannister and put it a bit from your tent.
Don't let the bears change your plans. The massive number of times (twice) that been
in that area... didn't see a single bear. YMMV

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 15, 2011 11:56PM
Hi Pam,

With those new to backpacking and carrying a weighty pack or those not in shape, one ought to select rather short distances between camp locations. Usually a lot less than typical advice one will get from those with experience. Especially the first day's hike else one may not get any further along one's itinerary as they recover. An unpleasant first experience is a prime cause for the many that have backpacked once but never again.

I've backpacked in the Ritter Range too many times. You've selected what is considered one of the most scenic areas of the High Sierra and also one of the most popular. From Agnew Meadows, only Shadow Lake at 3.5 miles (campable zone) would be close enough for an out of shape person to easily reach in one day. Note one cannot camp at that lake but rather another half mile up Shadow Creek. Thousand Island Lake campable areas are 7.4 miles and 2000 feet. Lake Ediza at 5.7 miles has too much vertical for one day. The topo map foot only trail from the River Trail up to Garnet Lake is steep, unmaintained, and requires a ford of the river that this year is apt to be rather difficult even for the experienced. Garnet via Shadow is too far. So with just 3 nights, I would instead recommend pruning your plan down to a leisurely base camping trip just to Lake Ediza and take two pleasant days to get there. That conventional backpacking bent of many that invent as busy an itinerary as possible is misplaced. Just going to Lake Ediza alone up beautiful Shadow Creek ought to fulfill any wilderness dreams. From Agnews Meadows at 2635 meters (8280 ft) the River Trail drops to 2445 meters (8020 feet).


At the 2.4 mile point at 2465 meters (8090 feet) one crosses the river on a bridge and must climb to 2665 meters (8745 feet) or up 655 feet to reach Shadow Lake. From there I would recommend continuing on at least a half mile to 2600 meters (8860 feet) for camp spots. That creek section has interesting sections of cascades in open glaciated bedrock within a lodgepole pine forest with many wildflower species. Eastern brook trout in the many pools too. Thus less than 4 miles and 800 feet of uphill.

Lake Ediza at 2824 meters (9265 feet) where one can actually camp is nearly another two miles and 500 feet up. Note it also has a no camping zone around all but the west side of the lake. Visitors overwhelmingly camp along that popular west shore that tends to be rather beat up, crowded, and ironically has mediocre views of peaks. Generally most backpackers predictably will camp as close as possible to whatever lake oblivious to any scenic values or relative seclusion. Far better is to continue up the obvious use path along the modest inlet stream that drains Ritter Pass and camp at between 2860 to 2880 meters (9450 feet) that is just below the marshy area shown on the map that is actually a spectacular turf meadow with many wildflowers. Few if any other campers plus great views of all the spectacular peaks as well as the lake, a modest 185 feet below. Lots of places to easily dayhike to like Iceberg Lake nearby. And if a bear actually visits that lake during evenings, it is most likely to make a beeline to the area heavily camped at and ignore areas like the above higher up because few ever camp there. Thus layover there on day three and hike out on day 4 that is easier being mostly downhill.




Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2011 12:15AM by DavidSenesac.
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 16, 2011 05:07AM
Thanks David, Good advice. Definitely looking for ways to shorten on the fly. Since I came down with a bad cold and bronchitis, I may not be up to the whole thing either! Do you have other ideas for a good three night beginner backpack that includes good fishing and comparable beauty? Although overuse is a bummer, solitude is not a criteria for this particular trip.
Re: Backpacking Advice
August 16, 2011 05:13AM
And I should have added, awesome photographs!!!! It's shots like these that attracted me to this area to begin with.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login