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

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Lumbergh21
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TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by Lumbergh21 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:03 pm

In my long established tradition of way too long trip reports, here's 11 days of hiking from 2019.

Day 0
I made the 8 hour drive from home down to Bishop for the start of my annual pilgrimage to the Sierra. The day started clear and sunny but had turned to cold and stormy as I drove up to the South Lake parking lot. I planned to get changed into my hiking cloths, grab my pack, and hitch a ride down to Bishop where I would catch the ESTA bus up to Mammoth. Just as I was finishing my cloths change, a group of hikers came off trail, headed towards their cars. I shoved my feet into my trail runners and quickly made my way across the parking lot. Though they had to rearrange a few things, they were willing to give me a ride down to Bishop. Unfortunately, in my haste, I left my trekking poles in my car...which I realized as I got out of their car at the Bishop Vons. Well, at least there are outfitters in Mammoth where I could get a second pair. The start of the ride to Mammoth was quite the experience as the bus driver was paying much more attention to his cell phone than the road. Several horns honked as he split two lanes headed out of Bishop. Fortunately, he managed to miss every vehicle or rather they managed to miss him.

Fortunately Mammoth Mountaineering was open and I got the cheapest pair of aluminum trekking poles they had. While not as nice as the ones resting in my car, they were certainly fine for the trip at hand. Continuing on foot - the town trolleys stop running before the ESTA bus arrives in Mammoth at 7:00 - I quickly made my way to my campsite near the Mammoth Welcome Center. I got my tarp set up by head lamp light and then wolfed down a quick dinner of two salami and cheese burritos before retiring to my home for the night.

Day 1
I was up and packed by 7:30. Arriving at the Ranger Station before 8, there were only 4 other people there ahead of me, not that it mattered since I had reserved a permit leaving Agnew Meadows by the High Trail before arriving. A bit of entertainment was in store for the rest of us in line as the first two guys decided to argue about LNT with the ranger issuing them a permit. A) They were wrong (big surprise), B) why would you argue with the person who could deny you a permit? About 30 minutes later, I had my permit and was headed to the bus stop to catch the purple line with a breakfast burrito in mind before heading up to Agnew Meadows. An hour later at the Adventure Center I bought a ticket and on the way back to the bus saw someone that I thought I recognized. On the ride up to Agnew Meadows I became certain of it, it was "Cat", and she was getting off at Agnew Meadows too. We had a nice chat about where she was hiking and how much I loved her photos and videos on YouTube. She was headed up to Shadow Lake and beyond, so we parted at the trailhead as I headed up the High Trail at 10 AM. I was in fine form at first but fizzled fast. About 3 hours and only 5 miles later, I needed a rest. So, I laid out my ccf pad on a flat spot in a small copse of trees along the trail and snacked on jerky while I relaxed.
Shadow Lake From the High Trail.jpg
View North on the High Trail.jpg
View South From the High Trail.jpg
That rejuvenated me some but not enough. The views of the San Joaquin River canyon and Shadow Lake from the High Trail on the way in were awesome; however, by the time that I got to the bridge across Rush Creek between Waugh and Gem Lakes, I knew that I was done for the day.

I was now in an LNT quandry; someone left 9 cans of beer in the creek. There is no one else camped here, and the sun is going down. Do I:

a) Leave the beers where they lie,
b) Drink a few and pack out the empty cans, or
c) Pour out all of the beers and pack out all of the empty cans?

Drinking all of the beer is not an option; it’s Bud Light. (Who packs in Bud Light?)
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Last edited by Lumbergh21 on Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.








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Lumbergh21
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Re: Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by Lumbergh21 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:21 pm

Day 2
What a day! I started out by picking up some of the trash that had been left behind by the previous occupants of the camp site. However, I will not pick up used “feminine hygiene products” nor will I pack out a full-size shovel, and I don’t know how you would remove the food that was dumped in a creek pool. I did take the unopened 375ml bottle of Fireball laying next to the shovel. I booked it up to Waugh Lake – a muddy flat with a braided creek channel running through it – and the JMT junction beyond. Next up, Lower Davis Lake where I washed both me and my clothes in the lake, which I had all to myself. It was beautiful!
The Trail Up To Davis Lakes.jpg
Lower Davis Lake Outlet.jpg
Davis Lake 2.jpg
Looking Towards Upper Davis Lake Outlet.jpg
Relaxing at Lower Davis Lake.jpg
Clouds started to roll in, and I packed up quickly. I left for the off-trail route between the Davis Lakes Basin and Thousand Island Lake. It looked like the route would go on my topo maps, and it did! I just followed the path of least resistance, and it was no more difficult than walking on a trail, even easier than some trails. I ascended by grassy ramps to a short rock scramble, ending at a flat saddle point with views down grassy slopes to 1000 Island Lake to the south and Donahue to the north. Wow, just wow, way better than Island Pass and very satisfying taking a route for which I could find no info.
Flower Ramp To Davis Pass.jpg
1000 Island Lake from Davis Pass.jpg
View North From Davis Pass.jpg
View East From Davis Pass.jpg
Next up was Garnet Pass. The descent down to the west end of 1000 Island Lake was easy and rewarding as well.
North Side of 1000 Island Lake.jpg
Garnet Pass was not nearly as easy as my route over what I had dubbed “Davis Pass”. Not that it was difficult, but maybe I went the wrong way. There was boulder hopping, especially on the Garnet Lake side of the pass.
Banner From Garnet Pass.jpg
Garnet Ponds From Garnet Pass.jpg
The area around the “ponds” west of Garnet Lake was beautiful and would make a fine option for camping, but I was determined to camp at Garnet Lake since it was still only 4 PM. I just didn’t realize how many other people were determined to camp there as well.

I passed many tents along the north shore of Garnet Lake, eventually camping at an established site about ½ mile from the lake outlet with three guys headed north on the JMT. Unfortunately, none of them wanted any of my Fireball. The clouds had broken, and the view of Banner Peak shrouded in clouds as the sun set behind it was fabulous. The view of tents on the opposite side of the lake planted on grassy slopes almost on the JMT or only a few feet from the lake was less fabulous.
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Last edited by Lumbergh21 on Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Lumbergh21
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Re: Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by Lumbergh21 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:26 pm

And yet more photos from the way too many that I took on Day 2.
1000 Island Lake From Garnet Pass.jpg
Banner in the Clouds 2.jpg
Evening View From Camp.jpg
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mckee80
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Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by mckee80 » Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:29 pm

Thanks! I’ve always wondered why I never saw any info between 1000 island and Davis Lakes.

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

Post by torpified » Sat Dec 14, 2019 6:34 pm

Hooray for this first installment of a TR! I hope that it presages not only further installments but also an onslaught of TRs from last season that took a while to bake (and/or TRs from seasons past---thanks, Wandering Daisy, for posting about Tunemah! And might there be more where that came from??). As a TR addict, I can testify that this is a tough time of year for TR addicts. If you're out there and you took a walk this season but never got around to writing it up and/or posting it --- what better time than the waning days of 2019 to do so??

Also, Lumbergh21: I don't think you said how many Bud Lights wound up Left as Traces!

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Lumbergh21
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Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by Lumbergh21 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:47 am

Torpified: I wanted to get the opinions of others on my LNT versus lightweight pack quandry without skewing the results. ;)
There will be more posts to follow. I was busy hiking yesterday.

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

Post by kpeter » Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:29 am

I'm enjoying your trail report and reliving some old memories! I especially appreciated your presentation of Davis Pass and have vowed to do that next time I am in the area.
Lumbergh21 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:21 pm
Garnet Pass was not nearly as easy as my route over what I had dubbed “Davis Pass”. Not that it was difficult, but maybe I went the wrong way. There was boulder hopping, especially on the Garnet Lake side of the pass.
I've done it three times and don't remember much boulder hopping. I just followed the greenest patches down to the ponds. Getting from the ponds down to Garnet was a tad more challenging. I found it easiest to go SE from the ponds and plunge down a steep but grassy moraine down to the SW corner of Garnet Lake. I've also gone E and NE from the ponds and that gets messier. I suppose if I were headed to the north side of Garnet instead of to the south side there might have been more boulder hopping at that stage.

Here is what I saw from Garnet Pass looking back at Thousand Island and the ponds west of it:
IMGP3984.jpg
And here is what I saw from the top of Garnet Pass looking down to the ponds above Garnet:
IMGP3986.jpg
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markskor
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Re: TR:Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by markskor » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:50 pm

Re your "Garnet Pass" route - (BTW, have done this route multiple times too...a favorite way to avoid the crowds bunching up at both the 1000 Isl and Garnet north exits.)
Anyway, no real need to even get close to those ponds...if pondside, you are way too low. Coming in/up from Garnet, on the far West end, there is a big rock where the pond stream finally exits into Garnet Lake proper. Hidden but easy to find, (just the other side of this large lakeside rock...maybe a little rock hopping?) is a use trail...heads up above, north of the stream, above the ponds...into the Garnet Pass notch.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Lumbergh21
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Re: Davis Lakes-Garnet-1000 Island-Minnow Creek- and More

Post by Lumbergh21 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:09 pm

kpeter wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:29 am
I've done it three times and don't remember much boulder hopping. I just followed the greenest patches down to the ponds. Getting from the ponds down to Garnet was a tad more challenging. I found it easiest to go SE from the ponds and plunge down a steep but grassy moraine down to the SW corner of Garnet Lake. I've also gone E and NE from the ponds and that gets messier. I suppose if I were headed to the north side of Garnet instead of to the south side there might have been more boulder hopping at that stage.
I found the route from the ponds down to Garnet obvious. lol. The patches of snow on the pass may have hidden the easy route or I may have just totally missed it some how. I don't have a lot of off-trail experience.

Thanks for the comment. I plan to go back in 2020 and explore the Davis Lake area more before looking for an off-trail route to Marie Lakes then heading into Yosemite and exploring the back country in the southern side of the park that I've never seen.

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

Post by Lumbergh21 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:11 pm

Markskor: Thanks, I'll try to remember that the next time I'm in the area.

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