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Agnew Meadows to Yosemite Valley

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Agnew Meadows to Yosemite Valley

Postby oldranger » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:17 am

Agnew Meadow to Yosemite Valley

This TR is late and no apologies! :o This trip is actually two distinct trips: One, solo from Agnew Meadow to TM and a second from TM to the Valley with my wife, Kathy. The adventure started Fall 2009 when Kathy said that she would like to do the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite. So we figured out a trip and entered the lotterywhich, fortunately, we lost. To make a long story short we eventually got 2 nights at Vogelsang and 2 nights at Merced Lake during the timeframe we were interested in. Since Tuolume Meadows is ¾ of the way to Kathy’s sister Kathy took a couple extra days off to visit and provided me the opportunity to hike from Agnew to TM, a trip I had never done before. It was also my good fortune (demonstrating that sometimes what we think is best for us is not really in our best interests) not to being able to get a reservation for the Friday start date originally sought so I reserved a start on the preceding Thursday.

On Thursday August 26 we headed s. from Bend at 0 dark 30. When we reached Lakeview, Oregon I called the Inyo NF Wiilderness Permit Office and notified them that we would not be able to pick up my permit until late in the afternoon and they agreed to hold it until the close of business. Stopping for my traditional coffee shake at Walker Burger we arrived at the Mono Lake Visitor center about 3:00, picked up my permit and a Harrison Map then headed to Whoa Nellie Delli for my last beer and Cowboy steak sandwich.

Kathy dropped me off at the shuttle at Mammoth Mt. Inn, just missing the 5 PM shuttle. I tweaked my equipment a little while waiting for the 5:30 shuttle and the ride to the Agnew shuttle was brief and I was the only rider. (note this start rather than my original start saved money on lodging and gave me a few hours and a few miles headstart over my original plan) My first half mile or so followed the road to the campground where I quickly found the unmarked trail that intersected the river trail a little ways farther. I followed the River trail to the Shadow Lake trail and made camp near the bridge over the San Joaquin. Eventually there were two or three other groups in the area, including one man a little younger than me and his dog who was returning to backpacking after a hiatus of several years and was carrying a 60 lb pack for a 4 day trip and his name wasn’t Russ! He was surprised that my pack was 43 which I thought was heavy for a 5 day trip (remember this was the weekend that Maverick went out into the Bear Creek area to get his storm photos.) Expecting cold weather my pack contained extra fleece and long underwear, and fingerless gloves with a mitten flap so I could fish even if the weather was miserable, which it was for a couple of days). Because the plan was to meet up with Kathy in TM I brought my cell phone along to facilitate our getting back together. Noticing a clear shot of Mammoth from my campsite I turned on the phone and sure enough there were multiple bars. I gave Kathy a call and she reported that as she drove s. on 395 she was amazed at how light the traffic was going n. but pretty soon she found out why. There had been a flash flood across the road! Luckily by the time she got there the road was cleared enough that she could negotiate the Prius through the debris of the flooded area.

Next morning I headed up the switchbacks toward Shadow Lake, gaining only a couple hundred feet before the sun hit. Talked to a few people heading down and got passed by a few going up as I talked. One lady and her dog and I seemed to leapfrog each other for the next couple of hours. At the junction with the Muir trail a cast of seemingly thousands greeted me!
Old Fart at jct of Muir Trail and Shadow Lake trail
I escaped the hordes once off the Muir trail heading toward Ediza. Cutting off the trail and heading up toward Nydiver lakes I followed an unmaintained stock trail that until the trail crossed the creek.
Minarets from Nydiver.jpg
Minarets From Nydiver stockusers trail
Though Maverick had suggested a route that headed n. from the largest Nydiver Lake I took the easternmost fork of the drainage to a lower saddle that was quite easy from the s.
E Nydever Drainage route.jpg
e Nydiver drainage route
Minaretts Nydever prospects.jpg
Minarets, prospects s of Nydiver Lakes
There was snow at the top
First View of Garnet.jpg
First view of sw end of Garnet Lake
and I hit one of my yearly “oh ****!” moments as the way down to Garnet was not immediately evident. There was a snow filled chute to the left that was relatively low angle where I could see it but it looked like it might get steeper down lower. It looked like there might be a series of ledges that could be negotiated directly in front of me and there was a possibility of a snow/scree descent to my right. Rejecting the chute on the left the route to the right was investigated. Because I couldn’t view the entire route the central option seemed best and zigzagged down a hundred feet until the ledge system petered out and confronted another, mostly grass, scree, and flower covered chute that had some well placed willows to grab onto. The only problem was one rocky area where the pitch became considerably steeper. Gambling that the steep pitch would be negotiable I grasped and shuffled my old body down. The steep pitch was nearly vertical (at least in my perception and memory) but with layered rock much like a ladder. So I turned my back to the air and downclimbed the “huge” 10 ft high pitch.
Saddle decended .jpg
later in the afternoon looking back at the saddle descended(my route was between the two largest patches of snow and immediatly to the right (from view perspective) of blackish rock)
Always fearful that the “easy part” is where accidents often happen the last few hundred feet through a mixture of slabs, dg covered ledges, and a little talus were carefully negotiated until stepping onto the verdant shore vegetation covered with paintbrush as if it were still spring.
Banner, Garnet, Paintbrush.jpg
Banner, Garnet, paintbrush
A suitable campsite, a little too close to the water but the flattest I could find was located at the sw end of the. I had to carefully hold onto my tent and stake it as wind gusts, I’m sure, exceeded 25 mph. After setting up camp several fat 12” brookies managed to grab my Z-Ray, two of which served as protein for dinner. During the late afternoon I spied a solitary hiker to the n. that seemed to be eyeing me but soon headed up toward the small lake to the w. of Garnet. Twenty minutes later he returned and headed along the north shore of the lake not to be seen again. I suspect he had eyed my location as a potential campsite and was polite enough or sufficiently in search of solitude to maintain distance between our camps. The wind buffeted my Contrail Tarptent all night but everything remained intact.

The next morning dawned bright and clear.
garnet San Joaquin Ridge.jpg
Garnet, San Joaquin ridge on way to 1000 Is. Lake
The sky overhead was gray by the time I reached the saddle between Garnet and 1000 Island.
First View of 1000 Island.jpg
First view of 1000 Island Lake
This Saddle was easy negotiate on both sides and given the wind and high probability of snow decided not to camp on the peninsula suggested by Markskor but instead headed for a stand of white bark pine set back a hundred yards or so from the lakeshore. Of course when I arrived at what looked like the prime site it was occupied by a family of three. Continuing my search I found a suitable site nestled amongst another stand of white barks about 200 yards away.

It didn't take too long to set up my rod. Expecting to catch Rainbows I was suprised that about a third of my catch was made up of brookies, like those at Garnet, about 12 inches. During the night about ¾ inch of heavy snow fell and it was cold.
Except to answer the call of nature I stayed in bed until 11AM when the temp finally busted above freezing.

to be continued (reached quota of photos for this post!)


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Re: Agnew Meadows to Yosemite Valley

Postby maverick » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:18 pm

Thanks Mike, and I won't make any comments about tardiness.
Just got to love that area with its beautiful lakes, jagged peaks, lush wild
flowers, and all of it is so easily accessible, it really has me wanting to get out.
Yeah, it got cold, mid to upper 20's, and that is not including the wind chill.
Looking forward to the next installment.
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Re: Agnew Meadows to Yosemite Valley

Postby markskor » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:54 am

Nice start to the TR!

Was wondering when, if ever, this would get posted,
too busy it would appear, but always better late than never.

Still eagerly waiting for part 2 though (...did you make it?)
Nice work!
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Agnew Meadows to Yosemite Valley

Postby windknot » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:45 pm

Nice shots Mike, this is an area I'm overdue to visit. Now on to the next installment! (reading reports late is good for people like me who have no patience)
A few backcountry fishing pictures:
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