|Banner Peak over Thousand Island Lake.|
Erica was able to grab a permit for us to depart from Silver Lake along the June Lake Loop following the Rush Creek trail. Our plan was to head up from there to Thousand Island Lake and spend several days exploring before heading on north via the JMT over Donohue Pass and dropping into Lyell Canyon and finishing our hike at Tuolomne Meadows where we would catch a bus back to where we started. We had lots of time to complete the hike which was only about 28 miles without our exploration days and for a bunch of folks who normally head out to climb big peaks and pound out excruciatingly long distances this sounded quite pleasant. The trip would consist of Erica as our group leader, Alex, Jason and his wife Alisa, CP and I. I had backpacked with all of them before except Erica whereas she had never backpacked with any of us. I knew we would have a great time together. All of us were very experienced backpackers, all with different styles but certainly all very fit, easy going personalities and ready for whatever we would face.
|Group photo, less me, at the start of our trip.|
Arriving at our trailhead near Silver Lake we sorted out our group gear. We would only bring two stoves, my MSR Reactor for our hot water needs and Jason's traditional canister stove with fancy homemade windscreen and fry pan for cooking. Two water filters and enough canister fuel rounded out the collection. We rolled out of the Rush Creek trailhead just before 11AM. It is a fairly good elevation gain on the first day, about 3,000 ft., with full packs on a very sun exposed trail before dropping into the basin containing Thousand Island Lake at 10,000 ft. Along the way we passed several reservoirs that feed the hydro power generation along the way. While the water is nice they still look a little too man made so we all appreciated it once we got back into the wilderness far enough to leave man made stuff behind and get a taste of the real backcountry where the only stuff we saw was from nature except for a few trails to aid us in getting there. Lunch was taken along the Clark Lakes and most of us opted for a swim to cool off from the climb that was now behind us.
|The group, less CP, as we arrive at Thousand Island Lake.|
After setting up camp, Jason and Alex headed off to try their hand at fishing, something they had both been very excited about. While I do enjoy fishing and have spent lots of time doing it in Alaska, I really wanted to spend my time exploring and swimming on this trip and left the fishing gear at home. I guess for me it is something I enjoy much more with my boys so exploring and swimming with friends sounded more appealing to me. The remainder of us went for a swim in what was left of the afternoon sun as it would be dropping behind Mt. Davis to the west of us in the late afternoon. The water was rather chilly as is expected in the Sierras but sure felt good on the feet and offered a chance to get semi clean after a hot and dusty hike in.
|Our camp kitchen on our first night.|
|Full moon over Banner Peak.|
|CP and Erica with Garnet Lake below.|
|The girls show off one of the prized first fish.|
|Alex takes in the view before dropping into Ruby Lake.|
|Erica enjoys her first day of eating fresh fish.|
|Jason and I at North Glacier Pass.|
|Jason and I atop Mt. Davis with Banner and Ritter behind us.|
|Alisa goes all in back at glacial fed Lake Catherine. Brrrrr|
|A little more fresh trout for the evening with lemon.|
|The Glenn Lightning Rod. Do not try this at home kids!|
|Erica, our group leader atop Donohue Pass with map in hand.|
|The group below the Lyell Glacier.|
Fortunately the skies were clearing a little as we made our way down. We came across a spot that is popular with the JMT hikers to camp and once again they were crammed on top of each other like sardines in a can. We headed on down a little further to where the meadows began and found just what we were looking for about 500 yards off the main trail. We discovered the most incredible camp, used by the folks with the pack animals as best we could figure, ready for us to use. It had a great fire pit, stack of precut wood, plenty of spots to put tents and lots of local firewood and kindling as well as access to water nearby. All this with an absolutely incredible view of the meadows below us. We quickly set up camp and now that we were in an area we could have a fire, we proceeded to use this right and got one going right away! I harvested some wood from a downed tree nearby as I did not want to use that which had already been left there. We were in a Yosemite paradise. We could see folks on the JMT as they passed at a distance and we were fortunate to have stumbled across this location. While we did not swim this afternoon, most if not all of us did wash up down at the river before putting on our evening clothes.
|Alex hanging out by our campfire in this perfect location.|
|Alex drops his fly in the water and is treated with an instant bite!|
|Hard to beat this location, Jason drops in a fly to test the waters.|
|The final Quiddler match following the NeoAirlympics|
|Group photo as we head down the JMT toward Tuolomne.|
|The final swimming hole near the bridge.|
|Lembert Dome, the first and last "Peak" I did with my dad.|
For all the pictures from this adventure please click here.