american hamburger sauce lake :: 1000 Island Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness
|blue hour - 1000 Island Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness (photo credit: Lukas)|
When we stopped in at the Mono Lake ranger station to pick up a permit for overnighting it in the Inyo (face) National Forest, we were surprised to find a next day walk-up available for our first choice, Dusy Basin. But we quickly changed our plans when the ranger explained the reason permits were available - winds were bringing the southern California fire smoke right into that basin and visibility could be as bad as 1/2 a mile. No thanks! We said. Probably for similar reasons permits were still available on the most popular River Trail out to Thousand Island Lake. Being further north though, we hoped that the smoke wouldn't be as terrible and we did indeed get lucky.
|because I never can be serious + it was cold!|
We spent the night, Friday, at Reds Meadow near Devil's Postpile National Monument. They restrict personal vehicle traffic on the roads between 7am and 7pm unless you're camping down in the valley. Instead, a shuttle bus is provided from the zoo that is Mammoth Mountain Lodge for those wanting to visit the various sites down below. We'd taken that shuttle once before when we backpacked to Ediza Lake over Labor Day three years ago. Our driver took her sweet time, stopping along the way to narrate our descent, which might have been nice had we not been super eager to get started on our hike.
Our goal this time was to avoid that and to have our car waiting for us at the trailhead upon our return instead of having to wait for the shuttle to take us back up to "Disney Land" (seriously!). The camp host at Reds Meadow gave us a friendly welcome and strong warning about the bears - though we didn't see any on this trip. We checked out the eatery at Mammoth Brewing Company, but were less than impressed by the high prices for the food and the prices for drinks listed on a chalkboard behind the bar. Maybe I was reading something wrong but I saw $10 for root beer?! We ended up at our standby, Grumpy's.
|two of a kind|
The next morning we woke up earlier, tossed the tent in the car and headed to the trailhead parking at Agnew Meadows. We were worried that people might be driving in early before they stopped letting in traffic at 7am and the parking lot might get crowded. At the trailhead, we organized and packed our gear after having a breakfast of oatmeal. We overheard some climbers talking while they were also packing up about how they were planning to "leave the ravioli". I guess they didn't get the extreme bear warning. We half expected to see their truck pealed open like a tin can when we got back.
|altitude sickness || we just "saw" a bear || "not" losing our balance|
The hiking, 18 miles total at around 10,000 ft, was quite challenging yet, this didn't mean that we had the place to ourselves when we got there. With such awesome beauty it's not surprising that many people managed to get out there. In the cold night air the voices of a select few carried clearly to our campsite. Thankfully, they didn't stay up too late - all that wine at altitude probably made them super sleepy.
The slight haze that was lingering in the sky when we got there dissipated around sunset as the wind stopped blowing. And then, when it got dark the stars came out! (It felt weird to be camping in the dark after our last camping in Norway.) Boy did they come out. I laid back on the big flat rock near our camp and watched while Lukas traipsed around capturing the Milky Way (by surprise at first). I couldn't remember ever seeing so many stars. It made the hiking worth every step.
On the way back to the trailhead the next day we took our time and made a little loop off the River Trail to check out Garnet Lake. The trail took us by a few other gemstone lakes - Emerald with deep green waters and Ruby with sheer red walls that plunged into the water. Garnet Lake provided pretty views of Banner Peak, but not enough to get us to spend the rest of the day waiting for the next sunrise when the light would be optimal (baring more smoke coming in). So we continued on our way.
The drive home, after the hike out, was a challenge to say the least. We stopped at Saddlebag Lake to have sandwiches at the little cafe there. It was slow going through Yosemite and the two-lane highway 120 with the holiday drivers. At Oakdale we stopped for pizza and watched the stray cats get fed in the shopping plaza parking lot while we ate. We got home, bodies wrecked and ready for showers. Before climbing into bed Lukas begin to edit up the trip pictures. Even in just one night out in the wilderness, he came away with many great shots.
|The Milky Way over Banner Peak at Thousand Island Lake|
...bits of random
:: really cooked after not doing much of that lately and Lukas gave me the kitchen nickname Wreck-It Ralph
:: waking up with a tight back on Wednesday - delayed soreness from backpacking?
:: Inigo "chatting" with the neighbor kitty - the same one that got stuck in our backyard one night after it couldn't figure out how it got in
:: sharing my Norway video with the ladies from bookclub
:: hard work paying off at work and working on being accountable for my career
:: hair buns are the best on hot days