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Ansel Adams Dayhike (Eastside)

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Ansel Adams Dayhike (Eastside)

Postby Hobbes » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:37 am

While car camping with the family @ Silver lake last week, I had a chance to get a day off to do some exploring. While I had previously hiked up to Agnew/Gem, this time around I wanted to go a little further to check out some other possible fishing opportunities.

What follows is a brief log of some of my impressions of a loop hike I made to Gem, Clark & Summit lakes (via Agnew Pass), and a return through Spooky Meadow. Here's a brief recap:

o Total distance was a little over 13 miles;
o Elevation gain from Silver (7,200') to Agnew (8,500') was 1,300', followed by another 1,450' to Clark #1 @ 9,950' (Agnew/Summit is 9,900') for a total of 2,750';
o I left @ 6:30am to avoid getting stuck behind packers from the Frontier station that leave for Gem around 8am;
o I returned @ 3:30pm, for a total of 9hrs, 2 of which were spent fishing, for a net of 7 hrs hiking - a little under 2 mph;
o Unlike the PCT highway, about 95% of the trail requires paying attention to where you step. In other words, it's very rocky, hence the slower than usual time.
o For those of you getting in touch with your 'inner hermit', you may be interested to note that I saw a total of 8 people during the entire trip, until the final descent back to Silver:
- The first person was an overnighter @ Geam near the Crest creek inlet. He was around 100 yrds away and we both waved as I continued on around the bend;
- The next 3 were way across Gem who were being dropped off on shore from a small boat. They looked like were part of a maintenance crew;
- The final 4 was a group of BPers I saw from across Clark #2, presumably on their way to TI lake.

All in all, I'd have to give this day hike a 10. Big scenery (see following pics), moderate-strenuous exertion, no people, great fishing. If one lived @ or was visiting the Mammoth area, it would be easy to shoot up for the day for the loop, or just catch the YARTS bus and walk back home via the PCT high trail to Agnew/Reds Mdw and/or Devil PP. Or, alternatively, do a quick 1 nighter to TI/Garnet and back.

Ok, on with some pics. First one, the requisite look back towards Agnew (with Gull/June behind the shoulder) from the climb up to Gem:
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Mt Lyell from Gem:
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One of the Clark lakes - these proved to be the proverbial 'cast & catch' kinds of Brook char lakes:
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After getting bored of catching a fish on every cast, I decided to mosey on up the trail over Agnew pass to Summit lake (Minarets in the background):
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Funny story - I thought for sure all my lures were crimped/filed, but I had one that I had neglected to fix. So there I am struggling to get the hook out, apologizing to the fish, while cursing myself for being so forgetful. I finally decide to switch out lures, but then the fish stopped biting! So I went back to my killer while trying not to injure the fish.

I did have my fly rod with me, but as usual, the fish were way out in the middle of the lake(s), necessitating big heaves. The upper part of Rush creek that drops into Gem was prime stream/fly fishing, but I was a little apprehensive about time & making the entire loop, as you will soon see, so I stuck to spin fishing a few spots before heading back.



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Re: Ansel Adams Dayhike (Eastside)

Postby Hobbes » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:39 am

After crossing Agnew pass, I walked a little further down to the fork of the PCT high trail to get a stock shot of Banner/Ritter and the SJ valley leading down to Mammoth:

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At this point, I was ready to start heading back. The reason for my slight apprehension was the return trail (as seen from across Agnew in this photo taken earlier that morning) coming out of Spooky meadow below Carson peak:
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As it turns out, the only thing spooky about Spooky meadow is the foreshadowing offered by this perspective of Mono lake:
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Trail down, with the trail up to Gem seen across Agnew lake:
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Switchbacks leading down:
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Talus field looking up:
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Talus field looking down:
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As it turns out, while steep & edgy, the Spooky/Clark trail is an 'official' Inyo FS trail, so it's not like it's some rad use trail. Not to say you don't have to pay attention, but it's pretty straightforward if you keep on keepin' on.

Once I got down to the tracks @ the waterfall, I began to see more crew (4) and BP/dayhikers (3). I ran into a family of four sitting in some limited shade on the way back who had bailed upon traveling around 50 yards up the Clark/Spooky trail. With two hot/tired teenagers and a wife who looked fit, but not gung-ho, it sort of reminded me of my own family. I mentioned to the father (the avid fisherman, 'natch, who took this photo of moi), that he could do the trail by himself, or with his son if really interested, but he'd have to be more focused about reaching the Clark lakes, rather than just going in on a "let's see how it looks basis".

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Like I said, this turned out to be a great day hike. If one were ambitious (hint), one could get to TI and back via Spooky/Clark in around 16-17 miles. For those of us with limited time, and/or family commitments, the name of the game is short to very short trips going light & fast. Two big thumbs up.

PS Big shout out to Dirty Girl gaiters - they rock. Except for sweat, socks are about as clean as when you first put them on.
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Re: Ansel Adams Dayhike (Eastside)

Postby windknot » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:24 am

Great day hike, you covered a lot of ground before 4pm! Thanks for sharing the report and pictures.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Ansel Adams Dayhike (Eastside)

Postby Hobbes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:01 am

windknot wrote:Great day hike, you covered a lot of ground before 4pm!

The ironic thing is that as I get older, I go faster/further. When I graduated from college and was waiting to begin a job in SF, I spent most of the summer camping in/around the Tahoe area. Every day was pretty leisurely, in that all I had to do was figure out what book to read, where to hike/fish, etc.

Fast forward a few decades, and the reverse is true. Perhaps activities do fill the time available. I've found that unless everyone else has the same enthusiasm, (1) you're gonna be spending time doing what others want to do (their 'moderate' version); and (2) you're gonna be doing what you like to do ('extreme' version) alone/solo.

Since necessity is the mother of invention, what happens when you can't spend 4-5 nights going 30-45 miles, but instead only have 2-3? First off, you have to determine if you're in physical condition to do it, and then you have to decide how to do it.

That's how I ended up in the UL camp. I just had to get my pack weight down to the point where I was essentially day hiking in order to go further, faster. As many will attest, merely dropping the food needed for an add'l 1-2 days turns out to be a big plus. Trail runners, a light BP and a few other items round out the list.

I'm going up once more to my old stand-by next week, but this time I'm going to sit on GiantBrookie's regret lake #1. I've tossed a few lures before, but this time I'm going with a purpose with both fly/spin rods. I've seen pictures of GT in some of the other lakes in the basin (posted by non-fishermen) that I'm going to focus on as well.

The point? I'm seriously considering forgoing the std 2-say approach and just hiking the whole distance on D1. Shoot up from LA in the dark, hike in, fish/camp, fish some more, hike out, drive home.
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Re: Ansel Adams Dayhike (Eastside)

Postby wshawkins » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:17 am

Wow, some day hike. Last time I was up there the lakes were drained for for Dam Maintenance, so I went up to Clerk Lakes for Brookie fishing. Wish I went a little further for that view of the Minarets!

I solo a lot now for the same reasons you mentioned. Many a time I was like that family you met coming down the trail, so now they let me loose for a hike or two on my own during our vacations.
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