Here are a few pictures and a brief post-trip report on my backpacking trip to Thousand Island Lake, in the Sierras near Mammoth. I've been planning this trip for a couple years now and finally did it. I made a loop, taking the High Trail (PCT) from Agnew Meadows, up to Summit Lake, then to Clark Lakes, then over to Thousand Island Lake and down the River Trail.
My faithful backpacking Malinois companion, Vixen, and I on the High Trail with Shadow Lake visible across the canyon:
Along the High Trail looking West:
I'm aware that some folks think the High Trail is less scenic than the River Trail and after doing both, I completely disagree. Looking North on the High Trail, towards the head of the valley:
The first lake I came to, Summit Lake. I actually made camp here for a few hours rest and dinner (looking West):
Camp at Summit Lake:
I climbed the small knoll that separates Summit Lake and the middle (and biggest I believe) Clark Lake:
I was very impressed with the Clark Lakes. In a future trip I think I'll approach from the Rush Creek trail and make the Clark Lakes my sole goal for a weekend. They are not as grand as some of the bigger lakes, but they are incredibly beautiful on a smaller scale. The next few shots are the heart-shaped Clark Lake:
I ran into several thunder storms during the day, and as evening came I found myself approaching Thousand Island Lake. Vixen doing her Gatekeeper impression, guarding the approach to Thousand Island Lake:
Most of the photos I've seen online of Thousand Island Lake have been taken in beautiful weather. To be honest, that is what I'd been hoping for on this trip. Thank goodness I didn't get my wish. The foreboding atmosphere made for an all the more "otherworldly" impression on my first sighting of the lake I'd been dreaming of for the past two years. It was a surreal experience and I wouldn't have changed it for the world:
The sunset wasn't bad either:
The following morning came with not a cloud in the sky. Banner Peak over the lake:
And finally, Vixen squinting in the morning sunlight:
As a side note, I believe all these photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
So here were the lessons learned from this trip (and thanks to all who were so helpful in my gear list thread and pre-trip planning thread!)...
The Sawyer squeeze was a great water filter. Very fast and painless to use, and you could actually enjoy the taste of the water (I'd previously been using the tablets). I'm sold on my Akubra "slouch" felt hat. During torrential thundershowers, my head and shoulders stayed completely dry. I was not too hot in the warmest parts of the day, and didn't sweat as much as in my cotton boonie hat. It even survived a Vixen chewing while I was focussed on taking pictures, just popped right back into place.
Those who read my gear list thread, know I'd been debating wearing my Merril Trail runners as opposed to my tried and true Danner boots (which I wear everyday at work, play, etc.). Eileen Duncan gave the advice of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Even though my Danners probably weighed 3 times the Merril's, they served me well yet again. My feet were comfortable the entire way (roughly 20 miles), with close to (if not slightly over) 5,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. I'm glad I took the boots.
Now for the pack weight...roughly 34 pounds fully loaded with water, food for both of us, etc. It kicked my butt. Part of the excess weight was of course the DSLR and tripod. I was very glad to have them, but my pelvic girdle and shoulders payed the price in pain. I didn't know how long I'd be out for, so I carried food for both Vixen and I for 5 days. I ended up being out there less than half that time, so again, a lot of excess weight. A big part of the reason I cut my trip short was lack of sleep. Two nights in a row without more than a solid hour of sleep at a time, that plus the elevation (I live at sea level), kicked my butt again.
All in all, I've got to say that seeing Thousand Island Lake for the first time that evening, with the setting sun and thunder clouds, made it for a trip I'll always remember with fondness.