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Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:24 pm
by Lumbergh21
Day 3
What a night. I. Could. Not. Sleep. I ended up getting about 2 hours sleep before enjoying some gorgeous sunrise views. Stumbling out of camp at 6:45 AM, I headed down the JMT towards the Ediza Lake Trail junction. I made the turn up towards Ediza, following along the stream, which was flowing strong, before eventually beginning the climb up to Ediza Lake. I got to ford the stream, but where it was wide and shallow and not at all exciting. Arriving at Ediza, the views were awesome, clouds piled up and spilling over the mountains ringing the lake.
Garnet At Sunrise.jpg
Lake Ediza.jpg
I made my way around Ediza and started climbing towards Iceberg Lake. Iceberg Lake lived up to its name. Even on September 6, there were still thick sheets of ice climbing up the slopes around the lake and calving small “icebergs” into the lake with a loud snap and crash. I was worried as I watched two people struggle across two small but steep ice fields covering the route up to Cecille Lake, my planned goal for the early afternoon. As I lay there resting and eating an early lunch, I began talking myself out of the loop up to Cecille, around that lake and down to Minaret Lake. In the end though, I decided to give it a shot since I was already there.
Iceberg Lake.jpg
The Way To Cecile.jpg
After a bit of boulder hopping and scrambling, I arrived at the first snow field. I’ve read that it is 35 degrees, but standing next to it, it looked a bit steeper. A slip here without an ice axe to act as a brake would almost certainly mean death, body broken either on the rocks at the bottom or in the frigid waters of Iceberg Lake. As a matter of fact, a hiker had died here approximately 2 weeks prior. After strapping on my micro spikes – practically worthless on slopes greater than 15 degrees – I took one step onto the now slushy snow then a 2nd. Then I turned around and went back. The route will still be here for years to come, and I want to make sure I am too.

Day 3 just got a whole lot longer. Rather than tempt fate, I turned around and headed back, back past Iceberg Lake, back past Ediza Lake, back across Shadow Creek, all the way back to the JMT. And then, I turned south towards Shadow Lake. I took the first Shadow Lake exit off the JMT highway and headed past the lake for the descent down to the River Trail, the descent that I had photographed on Day 1 from the High Trail. After a slow, knee pounding drop into the canyon, I crossed the river and turned south. I reached Agnew Meadows and continued hiking, hiking to the PCT and continuing all the way to the Soda Creek Campground. Here I found a flat and free site on the opposite side of the river from the Campground. My left knee was swollen and sore, and I began wondering if I should continue hiking past Red’s Meadow. I decided to sleep on it, hoping to actually get some sleep this night.
High Trail From Shadow Creek.jpg
Day 4
I popped 400 mg of “Vitamin I” the night before followed by 800 mg of aspirin and some Fireball trying to calm down my knee enough to sleep. After a strangely slow packing up, I hit the trail at 7:15. Then I took a wrong turn, but still made it to Red’s Meadow by 9 AM. The next 4 hours were spent drinking and catching up on sports. I also spoke with a few SoBo PCTers, but nothing of consequence. And, I spent nearly an hour on my cell phone with my wife.

Finally, I pried myself up from the picnic bench and headed for the Fish Creek Trail. A little after 3 PM, I arrived at the Cold Creek campsite where I had camped the first night of last year’s hike. This time, I took a long break that included dinner and rinsing clothes, but I didn’t stay for the night. This night, I cowboy camped on a rock outcropping with views back to Mammoth Mt and up the Fish Creek drainage. Rock walls on three sides provided good shelter from the wind whipping through the treetops above me.
Mammoth Mt From Camp.jpg
Day 5
After a beautiful star filled night, with no tent to obstruct the view, I hit the trail a little after 7 AM and arrived at the Iva Belle Hot Springs a little after 11, a leisurely pace necessitated by my sore and swollen left knee. I had a nice 25-minute soak to get the worst of the dirt off before relaxing and eating in the nearby shade until 1 PM.

Next up was the climb up to Cascade Valley. Rather than give up the 600 feet of elevation gain I had worked hard for to get to the hot springs from the trail junction, I headed further uphill and south to intersect the Minnow Creek Trail higher up the hill. After gaining 120 feet, I came upon a use trail that I was able to follow all the way to the maintained trail shown on the maps, but it wasn’t all good. I came upon two beehives in the middle of the use trail. As I came upon the first hive, I noticed a lot of bees and wondered where they were coming from. I finally spied the mouth of the hive in the middle of the trail as I stepped over it. Simultaneous with that realization I felt a sting on my left ankle, and I took off running or at least as close to running as you can on a grassy slope with a 30 lb pack on your back. After a few minutes of running, I decided it was safe to slow down to a walk again. Then a few minutes after that, I spied heavy bee activity again, but this time, I saw the hive opening a few steps before I reached it, in the middle of the use trail again. I started my running sooner and detoured slightly as well, avoiding any stings this time.

Reaching the trail, I slowly but surely made my way up the remainder of the climb then entered mosquito hell when I stopped to get water from the Beetlebug Lake outlet stream. I filtered about 1.5 L, ate a little jerky, and put on my head net before continuing. Turning right at the Long Canyon trail junction, I walked as quickly as I could towards Beetlebug Lake, driven by mossies and the descending sun. Along the way to the lake, I stopped for a few photos and killed at least 23 bloodsuckers while stopped. At least the lake is beautiful, but Long Canyon is aptly named. It was a cold dinner, driven into the tent by the mossies.
On the Way To Beetlebug.jpg
I dont See a Way.jpg
Beetlebug Lake.jpg
Day 6
I busted out 19 miles and 2,800 feet of climbing to Vermillion Valley Resort. While I didn’t start hiking until 8:10 AM, I still made it by 5:40 PM, just in time to watch the Saints second half comeback over the Texans and all of the Raiders game. It all started with frozen shoes when I finally drug myself out from under my warm quilt at 7 AM and got dressed. Then I checked my phone, 27% battery life; so, I snapped a couple of morning pics of Beetlebug Lake and finished packing up.
Beetlebug In the Morning.jpg
Looking Down Long Canyon.jpg
I wanted to get a photo of the beautiful landscape as I descended Long Canyon but couldn’t. All of a sudden, my phone was completely dead. It was good that I had been here twice before because there would be no more pics this day. Goodale Pass was awesome, as I had put some distance between me and a pair of hikers with a pair of dogs but no leashes. I had seen them at Lake of the Lone Indian and tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid them entirely. But, the dogs came charging towards me hackels raised and teeth bare as I ascended towards Goodale. I said something not nice and one of the owners called the dogs, telling me that they hadn’t seen anyone in days as a reason for letting their aggressive dogs run loose on trail.

After some good beer, good conversation, and corn chips, I crawled into my tent at 10 PM, planning to take a zero at VVR the next day as I was a full day ahead of my planned schedule.

Day 7
Not much happened today. I combed through the hiker box, took a shower, washed clothes, got a yummy cheeseburger, bought food for the next few days, got an even yummier plate of gnocchi with braised short ribs for dinner, and just relaxed while talking with a few of my fellow travelers who were also taking the day off at VVR.

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:10 am
by fishmonger
Your view and report of Iceberg Lake conditions confirm my worries in early August that the route would be too sketchy. Coming over Island Pass, I originally had planned to take the Sierra High Route below Banner, Ritter and the Minarets to at least Minaret Lake, but when I saw snow on the crest of the pass between 1000 Island and Garnet, I figured the next pass would be worse, plus, Iceberg Lake likely would be a real bear. I had left crampons and ice axe in the car, figuring it's August, but I learned real soon that the snow pack was a hit and miss with some areas really deep. For example, I had planned to hit Weber Lakes coming from Gem, and cross country a route to Island Pass I've done before in a relatively high snow year, but this year I found massive snow right above Waugh Lake dam, so I bailed on that route before I even started the climb to Weber Lakes.

For a while I was doubting my call to abandon the SHR, as the views from the PCT back to the area looked "ok" for travel, but the actual local conditions in just one spot like those on the route along the south shore of Iceberg Lake are what really matters. Like you said, that route will still be there in another summer.

Just like you, I headed down Fish Valley trail that day and camped near Cold Creek. Love that area. Lake of the Lone Indian is one of my favorite spots, but without aggressive loose dogs! One year I hit a group of camouflage-clad rednecks at Grassy Lake, huge camp fire when no fires were allowed. Open carry guns and big knifes. Not sure what I prefer - dogs or people who act like they get to do whatever they want because they have guns. This year, I didn't see a soul in that area, which is the norm for Goodale Pass trail, I'd say. Rarely will you see anyone between Iva Bell and Graveyard Lakes junction on the other side.

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:57 am
by Lumbergh21
Fishmonger: I would have been fine crossing the small remaining snow fields at Iceberg If I had an ice axe in case I slipped, but I decided the results of a mistake were too high to warrant the reward. While relaxing at Iceberg Lake 2 separate guys came up who said they had been to Cecile Lake before, but they were turning around because it wasn't worth the risk. Down near the JMT I also met a couple who had hiked up to Cecile Lake from the Minaret side and turned back around due to ice running the length of Cecile Lake. I'm much more risk adverse than I was 20 or 30 years ago, so I'm fine with my decision and being a "weenie" as some have called me.
I'm a gun owner myself, and idiots with guns are much worse than aggressive dogs.

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:14 am
by Wandering Daisy
I have always missed Beetlebug Lake when in that area, so thanks for the great photo. Now I see that I really must get there!

My dog is off-leash when we backpack, but she is well trained; when she meets people she is more inclined to sit and look adorable so she can get a head scratch. Unfortunately ill-behaved off leash dogs end up causing over restrictive leash regulations. I encounter gun-toting backpackers in the Wind Rivers all the time. Again, it is the few bad apples that you hear about, Most who carry guns are very polite, carry them safely and not being "tough guys" but just doing what is the local culture out there. Thus I hate to blanketly criticize carrying guns or having dogs in the wilderness. Guns, whisky and aggressive dogs are however a very bad combination!

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:55 am
by Lumbergh21
That's why I specified "idiots with guns" and "aggressive dogs". I agree that most gun owners are responsible and most of my experience with dogs on trail has been good. Also, I never blame the dog. I blame the dog owner who should know better and act accordingly.

So what would you have done with the beer cache? Drink, dump, or something in between?

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:56 am
by Wandering Daisy
It is my policy to leave things I find unless it is a real safety issue, like a smoldering campfire. If I find things lying right on the trail, I move them off the trail and put them where visible. I have accidently lost stuff and appreciate that people do not condemn me as an environmental slob and dispose of it. Nice to find stuff when I go back to look. But I probably would have indulged in one of the beers! :D

Interesting story; in 2018 we were walking out on one of my Wind River trips. When we hit the CDT at upper Fremont Crossing, there were lots of folks and a bit of a discussion. A packer had left a cardboard box if fresh meat right next to the trail. A self-appointed "do-gooder" CDT hiker hauled the box well off the trail and ditched it in the bushes. Seriously, moving the meat a few hundred yards off the trail did NOTHING to reduce the bear risk of fresh meat. Early next morning, we met a group at lower Fremont Crossing who told us they had paid for a resupply and the packer did not show up so they, quite disappointed, were headed out. We told them about the box of meat. It was theirs! They went back looking for it, but we never found out if they found it. The packer's standard drop site was evidently upper Fremont crossing and the people being resupplied thought their food would be at lower Fremont crossing. A big communication mix up. Although totally illegal, I am sure the packer just figured they were behind schedule and put the box in a visible location on the trail figuring they would find it. Nevertheless, I never assume I know the whole story and not take it upon myself to "fix" things. I did report to the FS office about the dumped box of meat. When I find large illegal stashes I do report these to the FS.

Jerks will be jerks, you cannot reform an idiot. Dogs, guns, campfires; they are all used improperly by the jerk. But my observation is that jerks stay fairly close to civilization. I rarely find them off-trail or in other hard to get to places. After all, they are on a whole pretty lazy.

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:25 pm
by Lumbergh21
Day 8
I hit the road to Lake Edison Dam and the start of the Bear Ridge Trail a little after 8, knowing that I had plenty of time to get to Three Island Lake this day, even with a stop at the dam to call my wife and download several hours of podcasts. But, as it turned out, no I did not have plenty of time for my hike in general. I had told my wife before leaving Red’s Meadow that I would call her from Edison Dam this day, at the latest. Well, as it turns out, I could not call her because Verizon no longer has service at the dam. I knew my wife would be worried if she didn’t hear from me, then angry once she did hear from me. I shifted from have fun to make miles and get to South Lake as fast as I could.
Shoving as many snacks into my hip belt pocket as I could, I powered on with no plans to stop for lunch or bathing or rest. Ok, I’m no big miles, skinny, trail god, but I did what I could. No side trips, just straight down the JMT highway. It was Wednesday, September 11, and I figured that I could make it out over Bishop Pass by Friday, September 13, or early the following morning. Three days, 62 miles, 12,400 feet of climbing; sure, why not.

I reached Marie Lake just after 4 PM and kept going. Unlike 2017, there was no snow on Selden this year, just an uphill, on-trail march to the top. I enjoyed the views from Selden Pass for a few minutes before continuing on. I met a British gentleman at Sallie Keyes Lake on the south side of Selden Pass who was looking for his friend. He said that this was the second time the guy had gotten off the trail and failed to be where they were supposed to meet. He was obviously worried. I know the feeling. The feeling of being responsible for a person. It was getting dark, but the camp sites around Sallie Keyes Lake looked like they were already taken, and I needed to make more miles anyway. I ended up setting up camp just after sunset approximately a half mile trail-north of Senger Creek. I was already behind my Friday exit pace, having only covered 18.6 miles, but I did knock out 4,800 feet of climbing.
Marie Lake.jpg
Heart Lake.jpg
Day 9
I broke camp and hit the trail a little after 7 AM, arriving at Muir Trail Ranch before 9 AM, but there would be no hot spring soak now. There was no time. I went through the hiker buckets, which had pretty meager pickings for the first time that I’ve stopped there. Oh well, it didn’t really matter. I had plenty food for my revised itinerary. I saw that MTR still had ridiculously slow internet for a ridiculously expensive price. What I didn’t know was just how slow and poor quality the “service” was. Still, I paid $10 to send an email to my wife, letting her know that I was fine, but there had been no service at Edison Dam. Did she get it? I had my doubts given how difficult it had been accessing my email and sending the message.
Heading Down to MTR.jpg
With all of the time spent trying to get out that email, I didn’t leave MTR until 10:30 AM (I also had to wait for someone in front of me who was also trying to send an email). It seemed unlikely that I would reach a camp site between Colby Meadow and Evolution Lake where I had camped before, least of all my original goal of Evolution Lake. I would see how far I could get, though. Heading up the long climb to the Evolution Creek crossing, I was not feeling good at all. I stopped several times to rest and try to pull myself together. I was tired and suffering from nausea. A younger couple I had briefly met at VVR passed me near the top of the climb, and I passed them back at the creek crossing. We had some short conversations, and I found out that they had taken the boat from VVR back to the JMT then hiked all the way to MTR the day before. Wow, that is some miles for the Sierra.

McClure Meadow was beautiful as always, a pair of deer grazing, their heads occasionally poking up, just barely clearing the top of the grass. It was getting late, and I was hoping to just make it to a camp site that I remembered at the bottom of the climb up to Evolution Lake. When I arrived, the sun had set and there were already two tents set up. I asked if I could join them, camping between them and the trail. Turns out it was a pair of Canadians and their wives who I had spent Monday night laughing and talking with during the football games. They had left the day before me and now I had caught them. We talked for a bit then I got some water and rinsed off my feet down in Evolution Creek before getting into my tent and trying to sleep. Only 15.4 miles and 2,800 feet of climbing today. Not a surprise given how much time I wasted at MTR and how lousy I felt after lunch.

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 9:22 pm
by Lumbergh21
Day 10

I hit the trail feeling wretched. This hike had not been what I had hoped for or what I was used to. I had not entered that zone of peace where I just walk and enjoy the wilderness around me. There had been moments, like when I reached the top of the off-trail pass between Davis Lakes and Thousand Island Lake, the beauty at Ediza Lake and Iceberg Lake, Beetlebug Lake (if you ignored the mosquitoes), soaking in Iva Belle Hot Springs. I was rushing though, and had been, even before I felt pushed by my inability to call my wife near VVR. Now I was skipping all of the wonderful places that I had planned to explore in more depth one of which I had never been to before at all. This was not fun. This was more like a job.

I began the climb up to Evolution Lake around 7 AM focused on my pacing and drinking my protein shake breakfast as I walked. Then I arrived at Evolution Lake, and my attitude started to change. I had to stop and take 10 minutes to enjoy the views while snacking on a protein bar. I continued on around the lake and began the climb to Sapphire Lake. I so wanted to take off and explore the granite benches and unnamed lakes in the peaks around me. The views to the south were bigger than a person can describe, and I knew from past experience that they were going to get better. Wanda Lake was sublimely beautiful, the surrounding mountains reflecting in the calm, clear waters. Onward and upward I went, stopping for the more than occasional picture and to talk briefly in almost hushed tones with my fellow congregants in this wilderness cathedral. My heart had been softened and my attitude had taken a 180.
Wanda Lake.jpg
Looking Back On Evolution.jpg
Looking Forward to Muir.jpg
Stopping For the Views Going Up Muir Pass.jpg
Looking North Going Up to Muir Pass.jpg
I enjoyed a hot lunch at Muir Hut before a long descent into pain and LeConte Canyon. As I descended, my right achilles tendon went from sore to painful to very painful over the next hour or two. Eventually, I slowed to a veritable crawl, limping along at a little over one mile per hour. I had thought that I would be able to camp up in Dusy Basin just below Bishop Pass if not on the other side of Bishop Pass. Now I didn’t think I would be able to make the trail junction at the LeConte Ranger’s Cabin. I did make it to the trail junction and set up camp with four other people who were already there. I got water and then sat around talking and trying to eat with my head net on, swatting at mosquitoes and hoping my achilles would magically heal overnight. Seven miles in a little over 5 hours, descending from Muir Pass had slowed me down to just 16.3 miles and 2,700 feet of climbing today. I hoped I could handle the 12-mile hike over Bishop Pass to my car at South Lake the next morning.
Looking Down LeConte Canyon.jpg
Big Pete Meadow.jpg
Little Pete Meadow.jpg
LeConte Rock Monster.jpg
Day 11
I woke with a sore achilles having popped 1,000 mg of “Vitamin I” followed by a chaser of 2 extra strength aspirin the night before in an attempt to get the swelling down and make the pain bearable. Not only did my achilles feel bad, I could literally feel a golf ball-sized knot about midway between my calf and my heel. I packed camp and hit the trail around 7 AM. I slowly climbed up the trail, ascending out of the deep canyon. The views looking across and back up the canyon were spectacular. Within the first hour, I came across a camp site just off the trail that would have been much better than where I had camped at the trail junction, but it wasn’t something that I could have counted on the night before. For future reference, there are a couple of camp sites between the trail junction and lower Dusy Basin. I ended up talking with a young man who I had met at camp the night before and at Muir Pass before that. We stopped for a break in Lower Dusy Basin and enjoyed the views. I wish I had the time to explore both Lower and Upper Dusy, as I had originally planned. Maybe some other trip when I’m not injured and when I’m not driven to get out as fast as possible. A trip where I can relax and enjoy. A vacation.
Looking Back As I Climb Up To Dusy.jpg
Leconte From Lower Dusy.jpg
Upper Dusy.jpg
I finally reached Bishop Pass just before noon. Five hours to go seven miles again. Now for the long descent back to my car. I agreed to give my new friend and his hiking buddy (ahead of us somewhere) a ride back to their truck at the North Lake trailhead when we got back to South Lake. But, now, he needed to take a bathroom break. I continued on, snapping a few pics of the nice but less impressive east side of Bishop Pass. There were lots of day hikers now with a sprinkling of backpackers thrown in. Slowly but surely, I continued to descend. I seemed to be making little progress, limping my way down the mountain. I expected the kid – he was under 40, so “kid” – to catch up with me any minute, but he never did. I finally arrived back at the trail head just before 3 PM, where I saw his hiking partner sitting on a bear box. I asked him if he wanted a ride to North Lake, and we talked about what might have happened to his friend based on when I last saw him. I dropped him off at his truck and then headed down to Bishop. Once I arrived in town, I called my wife, and found out she wasn’t worried at all. She was surprised to hear from me so soon. Next, I stopped at McDonalds for a sugary drink and WiFi. I wanted to check for deals on a hotel room in Reno, or possibly Rancho Cordova. WTF! Why were the room prices so high this weekend? I had booked a room in Reno the previous years at 3 Star hotels for $55 to $90. This weekend Motel 6 with the druggies and bums was $90. So, I checked on Rancho Cordova and found the prices to be very high there as well.

I called my wife again and told her that I was going to just drive home with a stop in Reno for dinner. I arrived in Reno and stopped at Archie’s for a 1 lb burger and onion rings at 9 PM. The burger was nothing special, but I got to meet a drunk college student leaning against my car in the parking lot after dinner. Luckily, his girlfriend got him to move along. Fun times. As I left town, I filled up my gas tank, bought a large soda, and stopped in at a Raley’s for some chips to snack on. I was fortunate enough to avoid three deer on the way home, one just barely, and pulled into the driveway at 2 AM. Sleep came at 4 AM, and I was back up at 7 AM because there were jobs waiting for me to take care of. Back to the rat race. I did wait until Tuesday to go back to work, relaxing on Monday for the most part.

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 9:25 pm
by Lumbergh21
Just a few more pics from my last day. I definitely plan to come back and explore Dusy Basin.
Looking Back on Upper Dusy.jpg
Bishop Pass In Mid Sept.jpg
Bishop and Saddlerock Lakes.jpg
Total miles = 141.4, 14.1 miles per day of hiking, 12.9 miles per day of trip
Total Elev. Gain = 22,400 ft, 2,240 ft per day of hiking

Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 12:36 am
by wildhiker
Thanks for the great report. This seems like a very ambitious trip to me, but a lot of beautiful backcountry. I'm sorry that you had to rush at the end in pain. I'm really surprised that you still had lots of mosquitoes in some areas in mid September!