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Need help - Mamoth lakes
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Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/22/2011 10:38:51 MDT Print View

Hey people,
I haven't been out in a while and need to get a small trip planned in an area where I have never been. I would like to make a trip with my dad to Mamoth Lakes (Bishop area i guess?)for 3 days (Friday-Sunday).I've got the gear covered, except for his clothes.

Anyone can give suggestions of a few nice hikes with spots to stop by not too far from the lakes?

Also - is there a permit needed or bear-proof containers for food?

Any advice is highly appreciated.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/22/2011 12:37:38 MDT Print View

Hi Yuki,

Mammoth is the gateway to a wonderful part of the Sierra. IIRC you can take a shuttle From Mammoth to Red's Meadow and hike in from there, or hike from Devil's Postpile. You can intercept the PCT or JMT, or create your own route. Canisters will be required in the area.



drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/22/2011 14:44:38 MDT Print View

The shuttle Rick recommended is great. If I remember correctly, it's $7 round trip. There's lots of hiking up there, and thanks to the shuttle, you can make some one-way trips. You do need a permit and bear canister for overnighters. I recommend stopping at the visitors center at the entrance to town for a permit and maps. I think you might be able to rent a bear canister there and also at the ranger station at Devil's Postpile. There's a lot of mountain biking too...

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

More questions on 09/22/2011 17:11:19 MDT Print View

Do you know if a permit reservation is required or if they are given to all who ask for one?

Any idea on the weather in mid October in that region (planning on going 14-15-16 October).

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/22/2011 17:19:02 MDT Print View

The NPS shuttle from Mammoth Mtn Inn to and from Reds Meadows has shut down for the year. You'll have to drive yourself in and park at the resort. You can make several different loop hikes out and back from the store on the John Muir Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and/or the Fish Creek Trail.

re: permits. These are usually required for this area, but you'll have to check with the local authorities since you're going after Oct 1st. Permits MAY not longer be required, or if they are, will be easy to get (not many folks go out then).

Be aware, you could get some early snows that can make travel difficult. Be prepared.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/22/2011 18:00:40 MDT Print View

I forgot to consider the weather and how it shortens the season considerably up there. I'm glad you caught that Bob. I don't know much about the weather up there, but I remember in the blog for either Scott Williamson or Sam Fox that they have to be out of there by October 15th or they could be screwed.

Definitely call the ranger office in Mammoth Lakes. They are VERY helpful, so much so that it makes dealing with my local NF seem like I'm getting a backhanded slap to the face and a kick in the nuts. Anyway, the visitor center I mentioned also has a very nice free map of the town, visitor's guide and a phone book for Mammoth Lakes, Bishop and a couple other places around there. I highly recommend grabbing at least the first two. They also sell a bunch of different maps, including forest service, Tom Harrison and National Geographic and maybe more. They also have guide books and lots of books about geology, birding, flowers, etc.

Even if you can't get past Mineret Pass, there's plenty of other trails at lower elevation on the way there and also in and near town.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Bear cans necessary on 09/22/2011 18:42:50 MDT Print View

Bears are very common in the area and even in town. You'll notice when you drive through town that the dumpsters are locked.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/22/2011 19:35:39 MDT Print View

You can hike the high trail (The PCT) and come into 1000 Island Lake, cross country over the saddle to Garnett Lake, hike to Ediza for another night and back to your car at Agnews. That whole area is sublime!

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Mammoth Lakes Hikes on 09/23/2011 16:15:37 MDT Print View

+1 to Ken's suggestion for a relatively easy, yet beautiful hike near Mammoth.

Like others said, weather can be a concern as you creep into Fall. My brother lives in Mammoth and we're hoping to pull off a late October trip but it's going to be a last minute call based on the weather.

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Keep em coming on 09/24/2011 21:20:01 MDT Print View

Thank you all for the input - please keep the ideas coming as i'm noting them down.

I've looked up the weather and it seems the lows are around 36* in mid october, which should be fine with a 30* bag and a base layer. I've got a small bear-canister, which should be OK for the two of us for 2 days. I'm getting my dad some basic light rain gear, as i expect it to rain during mid october.

Besides permit, trip route, bag/tent/clothing, food, basic necessities/first aid. I'm not sure if I'm missing anything.

So if you have any more insight on the weather during that time or ideas on what we may want to take - please chime in. Even if that's something i've thought about - never hurts to double check.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Agnew Meadows trailhead on 09/26/2011 11:35:35 MDT Print View

Yes, +2 on Ken's suggestion. That is probably the best on-trail route in the area!

Get yourself an Ansel Adams Wilderness map; or Tom Harrison's Mammoth High Country map so you can follow this discussion:

Your start/end point is Agnew Meadows. Not sure if the summer shuttle from Mammoth Lakes will still be running there; but you can drive directly to Agnew Meadows and park there. From Agnew Meadows, there are three ways to hike to Thousand Island Lake on your first day. I highly recommend taking the so-called High Route (Pacific Crest Trail). That route is famous for its fall colors! And it will give you a magnificent view across the valley to the country you'll be seeing the next day.

From Thousand Island Lake, you'll head south towards Garnet Lake. There are two ways to get to Garnet: The easy way (John Muir Trail); or the off-trail way ("saddle") mentioned by Ken. The off-trail way is not hard; it's all Class 1 hiking, and straightforward navigating. The benefit is that you get real-up-close to Banner Peak, and into a gorgeous little lake valley above Garnet Lake, that you'd never see from the JMT. It does add some time, though, so if you want to do this, be sure you're up for a long day (especially if you want to get all the way to Ediza), and get an early start. For the off-trail route, walk along the north and then west shores of Thousand Island Lake. Head for the obvious low saddle due south. Descend to the lake basin above (west of) Garnet Lake.

From there you will want to get to Ediza Lake. Again, there are two routes: On-trail and off-trail. I don't recommend the off-trail route, as it looks like a long, steep, and difficult slog; but someone here might disagree with me. To go the on-trail route, drop east to Garnet Lake, and then follow along the north side of Garnet Lake till you hit the John Muir Trail. (The terrain does not allow you to follow Garnet's shoreline at lake level; you will be about 100-200 feet up.) Follow the JMT south to the junction with the Ediza Lake Trail, and go up to Ediza. Camping at Ediza is in some trees on the north/northwest shore.

On the final day, it's a straightforward hike from Ediza Lake back to Agnew Meadows.

Thousand Island, Garnet, and Ediza Lakes are considered by many to be among the most scenic lakes in all the Sierra. I wouldn't disagree. Most Sierra lakes this spectacular take several days to hike into, but you'll be able to see them all in just 3 days. You're lucky to get to see this country in the off-season when it is not overrun.

Bears are very active at Thousand Island in particular; watch your every move! (Do not leave your food unattended even for a few minutes.)

Personally, I don't find the Devils Postpile all that interesting. It was kind of a letdown after all the amazing lakes. You park your car, walk the short dusty trail to the Postpile, take a couple of pictures, and then hurry back to your car so you can get started hiking to the real stuff. In any case, don't build a trip around seeing Devils Postpile.

- Elizabeth

Edited by mariposa on 09/26/2011 14:34:57 MDT.

stephan q
(khumbukat) - F
+1 on High Side trail on 09/26/2011 14:10:04 MDT Print View

I agree that this is the trip to take for first time in the area. Also, if you have time/energy left, consider a day hike from Ediza to Iceberg Lake.Iceberg
My wife loves this area.

Edited by khumbukat on 09/26/2011 14:13:23 MDT.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Mammoth Lakes Ranger District on 09/26/2011 15:07:50 MDT Print View

Mammoth Lakes Ranger District is at 760-873-2400. (They are part of Inyo National Forest.) This is where you can get your permit and rent a bear canister.

Call soon to see if there is still space to reserve an Agnew Meadows permit in advance. If not, you can probably get a walk-in if you find out the earliest walk-in hours.

How many miles/day do you think your dad can/wants to go? The Agnew Meadows trailhead is at 9000 feet and goes up. So you will be dealing with altitude and shorter/colder fall days. It might be all you can do to just stick to the trail and camp at Thousand Island the first night, Ediza the second, and then hike straight out.

All the other potential detours (offtrail route to the basin above Garnet; Davis Lakes which is north of Thousand Island; Iceberg/Cecile Lakes; Nydiver Lakes) are just gravy - if you happen to have additional energy for any of them.

If you have just one canister between you, avoid bulky foods such as crackers or apples, unless you intend to eat them before your first night. Since toiletries smell, they too should go in the bear canister and they should be as tiny as possible. For some reason I have had difficulty explaining this to people I'm bringing into bear country for the first time. Please transfer your meds from that huge round bottle into a ziplock, and no, you can't bring that massive electric toothbrush...

- Elizabeth

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Mammoth Lakes Ranger District on 09/26/2011 18:16:58 MDT Print View

Elizabeth gives a great description on the route from 1000 Island Lake to Garnett...I love hiking under and camping under Banner and Ritter. Elizabeth I assume that you have gone over that saddle between 1000 Island and Garnett....there is an amazing campsite that is right under banner just west over Garnett that looks over Garnett...magical!!!!!

Hannes Horst
(Hochtourist) - F
The other side of Mammoth pass on 09/27/2011 05:22:24 MDT Print View

I agree that hiking 1000 Island Lake, etc. is very beautiful. But to add some diversity here, I suggest the other side of Mammoth Pass, namely the hike up Mammoth Crest. The peak of the crest can be reached from the trail in a few minutes over easy sand / scree and the view is spectacular.

Depending on how long you want to go on each day, you can do this as a day hike or spend the night at beautiful Deer Lakes and then take the JMT to Red's Meadow.


Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Thank you! on 09/27/2011 09:31:29 MDT Print View

Thank you all very much for the great information here. I knew that folks at BPL will have the knowledge and desire to help someone who is not familiar with the area.

This is exactly the information i was looking for and i'm getting maps and ironing out the details of this small trip. I may get another bear canister just in case, but the plan was to bring freez dried food that i got recently, but i can always mixed it up with some old favorites (buckwheat, couscous, and such)

I appreciate all of your input - this information is just great.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Thank you! on 09/27/2011 10:46:33 MDT Print View

you should plan on low temperatures below the 36* you mentioned.
that may be the low temp for the town of Mammoth.
if you hike into the Sierra, plan on low temps down to 26* or even 20* and you won't be caught unprepared.

some of the trips mentioned are very nice, but involve a fair amount of elevation gain and travel above 10,000 ft.
what kind of shape is your dad in ?

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Wel, on 09/28/2011 11:40:32 MDT Print View

Perhaps I should take the 15* bag then...

My dad is in better shape than I am - he runs 9 miles regularly and swims in the ocean year round. I'm not worried about his physical abilities as much as about the weather.

Upadate: Just called Inyo Forest services and there permit is free and should be available this late in the season (none are reserved right now). Bear canisters are required, camp fires allowed only at specific sites. Ranger station opens at 8am for permit pickup.

Edited by Yazon on 09/28/2011 12:18:47 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Need help - Mamoth lakes on 09/28/2011 12:17:11 MDT Print View

if you are using a tent rather than a tarp, the tent will get you 10*.
if you bring extra clothes to sleep in, the 30* bag would probably be minimally adequate for 2 nights.
just make sure you bring the clothing.

October is often (but not always) beautiful weather, but cool.

Thousand Island Lake is a great very scenic place to visit.

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Clothing on 09/28/2011 12:24:00 MDT Print View

Yes, we will be sharing a tent - Stoic Arx XL.

As far as clothing - I've got Patagonia Guide pants, Patagonia capeline bottoms, Stoic merino long sleeve undershirt, Nano Puff/Stoic Luft insulation and then a rain jacket. I may bring my fleece to use as pillow or extra layer in case it gets really cold.