Forum Index > Trip Reports > Agnew Meadows to Tenaya Lake (YNP) via JMT + (Part one - 8/24 to 8/31)
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lanzscape
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PostSat Dec 14, 2019 9:25 pm 
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Another tardy report.  rolleyes.gif

Every year, I along with two other flatlanders (my brother and a good friend), travel out west from Ohio on a backpacking trip. This year's destination was the Sierra Nevada, an area none of us had ever backpacked before and only I had been to at all. We were joined this year by a new companion, making it a group of four, ages 60, 62, 64, and 70.

So as to avoid any possible altitude sickness issues, we went out on 8/24, several days before the backpack start date. A word about our permit: we originally planned to start in Yosemite and go south on the JMT, exiting at Agnew Meadows near Mammoth Lakes, but we could not secure a JMT permit. So, we went with Plan B: a permit to enter the Ansel Adams Wilderness at the Shadow Lakes trailhead (Agnew Meadows) and then go north on the JMT to Yosemite. As it turned out, Plan B worked out quite well.

On 8/24, we flew from Cleveland to Las Vegas, rented a car, and then drove west to Ca. When we were still trip planning, we thought we might camp the first night in Death Valley NP, just for the experience, but when we got to Death Valley, the temperature was an amazing 117 ( eek.gif ), so we continued on our way. We got to Lone Pine, Ca. after dusk, and wound up cowboy camping in the Alabama Hills (ele. 5000'), where the temperature dropped to a balmy 70. None of the others had ever seen the Alabama Hills (except in movies), and the night sky and morning view of the Sierra were exceptional.

On 8/25, after breakfast in Lone Pine, we headed north to Bishop, were I picked up a rental Bearikade canister, and another in the group picked up a fishing permit. After stopping at the U.S. Forest office to pick up our backpacking permit, we then headed west to the Lake Sabina campground (9000'). After securing campsites, we proceeded to stretch and test our legs and lungs, hiking 3 mi up to Blue Lake (10,500) before returning to camp.

At Blue Lake
At Blue Lake
My brother Jim at Blue Lake
My brother Jim at Blue Lake
Jeff W. fishing at Blue Lake
Jeff W. fishing at Blue Lake
Blue Lake Reflections
Blue Lake Reflections

On 8/26, we continued north on I-395 toward Yosemite. On the way, we stopped at Convict Lake and then at Mono Lake, which the others had never seen.

Side stop to enjoy the scenery at Mono Lake
Side stop to enjoy the scenery at Mono Lake
Mono Lake Tufa and gull
Mono Lake Tufa and gull
Checking out the views and Tufa at Mono Lake
Checking out the views and Tufa at Mono Lake
More Mono Lake
More Mono Lake
Mono pano
Mono pano

We drove to Mammoth Lakes and checked into our reserved campsites at the New Shady Rest campground. After setting up camp, we scoped out the area to get a feel for the needed bus stops and routes. After leaving everything we needed for the first part of the backpack (Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows) at the campground, we continued driving to Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows.  After leaving our vehicle at the Wilderness office and food for the last two days of the backpack in bear vaults, we hiked down to the Visitor Center and waited for the YARTS bus, and then took a 2 hour bus ride back to Mammoth Lakes. After a final restaurant dinner near the campground and a bit a star gazing, we called it a night.

On 8/27, we got up early, had fantastic breakfast at a place near the campground, and then took the bus to the Agnew meadows/Shadow Lake trailhead (8300'). The trail immediately enters the Ansel Adams Wilderness and then drops about 300' in about 2 miles before climbing 700' in another 2 miles to beautiful Shadow Lake. On the far side of Shadow Lake, we came to a junction with the JMT but we continued west another 2.5 miles (7 total from the start) to jaw-dropping Ediza Lake (9300'). Just below the lake, a bridge was out, requiring a below-knee crossing of Shadow Creek.

arriving at Ediza Lake
arriving at Ediza Lake
Ediza Lake
Ediza Lake
Wildflowers at Ediza Lake
Wildflowers at Ediza Lake

Camping is only permitted on the northwest side of the lake, so we proceeded to hike around the east side of the lake about 1 mile to the camping area. We found an exceptional spot on a bluff with great views and easy access to the lake. We made camp with no other backpackers in sight, and were rewarded with a ringside seat to spectacular storm clouds to the east at sunset. The clouds moved on, and we then had an incredible view of the Milky Way under the new moon. The only negative was the mosquitos. However, this was the only night on the whole trip that the mosquitos were bad.

Jim setting up his camp at Ediza Lake
Jim setting up his camp at Ediza Lake
Dinner and a view at Ediza
Dinner and a view at Ediza
Storm clouds to the east in the evening at Ediza
Storm clouds to the east in the evening at Ediza
Ediza sunset
Ediza sunset
Ediza at sunset looking toward Minarets
Ediza at sunset looking toward Minarets
Amazing sky and storm clouds looking east
Amazing sky and storm clouds looking east
final Lake Ediza sunset
final Lake Ediza sunset
Milky Way reflected in Lake Ediza
Milky Way reflected in Lake Ediza

8/28 began with pre-dawn and sunrise photos of the Minarets:

The Minarets reflected in Lake Ediza pre-sunrise.
The Minarets reflected in Lake Ediza pre-sunrise.
Minarets at sunrise
Minarets at sunrise

We left Ediza and backtracked roughly 2.5 miles to the junction with the JMT. We turned north onto the JMT and, in about another 2.5 miles, arrived at aptly named Garnet Lake (9678'). We continued on the JMT over the bridge at the outlet of Garnet. We actually intended to camp on the north side of Garnet, but we missed the side trail that leads to where camping is permitted. By the time we realized our mistake, we had substantially climbed the ridge leading to Ruby Lake, so we decided to just keep going. We passed Ruby Lake and Emerald Lake, and 2.5 miles past Garnet (about 7.5 miles from Ediza), we arrived at Thousand island Lake (9833'). We got to the lake relatively late in the day, and found the camping areas pretty full. We proceeded about a mile down the north side of the lake and, after some searching, found a nice site which was close but not too close to the water. Once again, the night sky, with the Milky Way arching over Banner Peak, was fantastic. Nothing like this in Ohio!

Camping under Mt. Banner and Milky Way at Thousand Island Lake
Camping under Mt. Banner and Milky Way at Thousand Island Lake

The only negative here was not the mosquitos, but all the horse droppings, even right at the water's edge.  mad.gif If I live to be 100, I will not understand why horses are exempt from the "leave no trace" rules and principles.

8/29 began with pre-dawn and sunrise photos of Banner Peak, Thousand island Lake, and the wildflowers, and a generally leisurely morning.
Mt. Banner reflection (pre-sunrise)
Mt. Banner reflection (pre-sunrise)
Mt. Banner alpenglow
Mt. Banner alpenglow
Mt. Banner at sunrise
Mt. Banner at sunrise
Mt. Banner reflected in Thousand Island Lake
Mt. Banner reflected in Thousand Island Lake
Paintbrush and Mt. Banner
Paintbrush and Mt. Banner

We then retraced our way back to the JMT. We continued north on the JMT up and across beautiful Island Pass (10,225') which affords outstanding views of Thousand Island Lake and Banner Peak.

View of Thousand Island Lake while ascending Island Pass
View of Thousand Island Lake while ascending Island Pass
Crossing Island Pass on the JMT
Crossing Island Pass on the JMT
Photo stop at Island Pass
Photo stop at Island Pass
Crossing Island Pass on JMT
Crossing Island Pass on JMT
Photo op on Island Pass
Photo op on Island Pass
Mt. Banner, rocks, tarn, and wildflowers at Island Pass
Mt. Banner, rocks, tarn, and wildflowers at Island Pass

From Island Pass, we dropped a little over 500' in 1 mile to a junction with the Davis Lakes trail, and we took that trail about another mile to lower Davis Lake (9954), where we camped for the night. There were two backpackers camped about 1/4 mile away, but no one else at the lake. The only negative here was that, by this time, one member of the group had developed a very nasty blister on the ball of his foot.

Wildflowers near Davis Lake
Wildflowers near Davis Lake
More wildflowers near Davis Lake
More wildflowers near Davis Lake
Camp near Davis Lake
Camp near Davis Lake
Morning light at Davis Lake
Morning light at Davis Lake
Waterfall below Davis Lakes
Waterfall below Davis Lakes
Waterfall below Davis Lakes
Waterfall below Davis Lakes

8/30: We left Davis Lake and backtracked about a mile back to the JMT. We continued north on the JMT about .3, dropping into a mini canyon at 9640.' We then began a 1500' climb in 3 miles to Donahue Pass (11,056) and the entrance to Yosemite National Park. From here, we descended 2000 feet into Lyle Canyon, and continued down Lyle Canyon about 6 miles to a trail junction and major backcountry camping area (about 11 miles total from where we began the day at lower Davis Lake).

Wildflowers and cascades along JMT
Wildflowers and cascades along JMT
A tarn next to JMT below Donahue Pass
A tarn next to JMT below Donahue Pass
Tarn in Yosemite NP just below Donahue Pass
Tarn in Yosemite NP just below Donahue Pass
Snowmelt waterfall below Donahue Pass
Snowmelt waterfall below Donahue Pass
Looking back south toward Donahue Pass
Looking back south toward Donahue Pass
Posing for photo above Lyle Canyon
Posing for photo above Lyle Canyon
Yosemite's Lyle Canyon
Yosemite's Lyle Canyon
Lyle Canyon, YNP
Lyle Canyon, YNP

8/31: We packed up and continued north on the JMT about 5 miles, arriving at the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center and our car by late morning.

This ends part one of this report. Second part now posted.
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostSun Dec 15, 2019 12:39 am 
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up.gif   Excellent.  Looking forward to more Sierras eye candy.
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awilsondc
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PostSun Dec 15, 2019 2:46 pm 
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You sure make it count when you get out!  Phenomenal photography, I love your trip reports.  Looking forward to part two!
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HermitThrush
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PostSun Dec 15, 2019 4:33 pm 
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Your compositions are simply textbook for balance, texture, shape, color, and light. Can you talk a little about your equipment setup?
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lanzscape
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PostSun Dec 15, 2019 6:13 pm 
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Thank you for the comments about the photographs. Much appreciated. HermitThrush, On this trip, I used a Nikon D750 and two Nikon lenses, a 24-85 Nikon G zoom and a fixed 20 f1.8. The 20 was used for wider angles and all night shots. I carried a Sirui T-024x tripod and a lightweight Sirui ballhead. I also brought and used two 4 x 6 Galen Rowell graduated neutral density filters (always handheld) and a circular polarizer. I carried a backup lithium battery and a cable shutter release. I think this covers it. Oh, I carried my camera in my fanny pack, and I generally carried one lens in a hip belt pocket and the other in a shoulder strap pocket. The camera gear totaled about 7 lbs. Sometimes I question bringing it, but I would have certainly regretted not having it on this trip given the scenery where we camped and the night skies.
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Roly Poly
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PostTue Dec 17, 2019 12:36 pm 
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Seriously fantastic photography.  Iíve hiked  the JMT probably 15 or more times so I am very familiar with these locations and this is the best photography bar none that Iíve seen of the Sierras.  Makes me want to retire there!
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lanzscape
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PostTue Dec 17, 2019 5:33 pm 
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Thank you for the very nice comment about the photos. Much appreciated.

15 or more times hiking the JMT! Wow, I am jealous. I can you why a person would never tire of it, however, and I definitely want to do more of it. And as for retirement, I keep talking to my wife about Bishop...
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whitebark
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PostSat Dec 21, 2019 8:20 pm 
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Nice photos from the Yosemite high country. North of Donahue Pass, you can see the snowy remnants of the Lyell Glacier in your photos.

It is almost gone now, but the glacier was quite large in 1883. The old moraine is still visible:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyell_Glacier#/media/File:Lyle-Glacier-1883.jpg
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Bernardo
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PostSat Dec 21, 2019 8:27 pm 
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Thanks for posting.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Agnew Meadows to Tenaya Lake (YNP) via JMT + (Part one - 8/24 to 8/31)
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