TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes | High Sierra Topix  

TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

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TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby larroyo33 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:43 am

My dog Fozzy and I arrived at the trailhead to Agnew Meadows at around 11 am on Monday. The shuttle didn't start running until Saturday the 22nd, so I was able to drive all the way down to the trailhead, which was nice. Once out of my car, I was immediately swarmed by mosquitoes. They were so bad, I had to walk in circles while getting my gear ready. The joys of early season hiking.

In short time, we were off on the trail following the signs to Shadow Lake. As long as we kept moving, the mosquitoes left us alone for the most part. We descended down to the San Joaquin River and entered the Wilderness near Olaine Lake.

ImageFozzy Entering The Wilderness

We crossed the bridge over the river and began the ascent up the switchbacks to Shadow Lake. It was hot, and the hike up to Shadow Lake was shadeless, but it was short and over quickly.We continued on to Lake Ediza, hiking along Shadow Creek. We were back in the shade which made for more pleasant hiking, but we could not take any breaks along the creek without getting hit by the mosquitoes.

ImageMount Ritter Coming Into Sight

We made it to Lake Ediza around 3 or 3:30. We hiked the long way around the Lake to get to the legal camping sites, but then ran into an issue. The bridge over Lake Ediza's inlet was broken, so I was not sure how I was going to get across. First, I hiked upstream a bit, but I soon realized this was a bad idea as the inlet quickly forked off into 3 or 4 inlets, so it seemed worse to try to cross up there, but I did get a good overhead view of the lake while I was up there.

ImageLooking Down At Lake Ediza

I then hiked back down to where the inlet meets the lake and decided to ford the inlet there. The inlet was about 15 feet across there, but the water was very calm and was only about a foot deep at its deepest. I crossed in my crocs with one hiking pole and while holding Fozzy and I had no problems. We then found a good campsite on the top of the small hill above the lake (you can see the hill in the bottom left of the picture above). The mosquitoes were much better up there than near the water. After setting up camp, we headed down to the lake to filter water and checked out the sunset, which was pretty cool because from Lake Ediza, the sun set right behind Mount Ritter.

ImageThe Sun Behind Mount Ritter

The plan for Tuesday was to day hike to Nydiver Lakes. I was pretty excited for this day hike as it would be my first cross country hike in the Sierras. I did not know how long the hike would take so we started first thing in the morning around 6 am after taking a few sunrise pictures at the lake.

ImageThe Minarets In The Morning

The route looked pretty straight forward from the map: follow Ediza's north inlet up to a small pond below Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak and then head east up and over a small hill and down to Nydiver Lakes. So, I did just that. The first part of the hike-the hike up the inlet to the small pond-was pretty easy as there was a solid use trail from Lake Ediza to the pond for most of the way. The use trail was hard to follow in a few spots but as long as I continued hiking up the inlet I would run into it again.

ImageFozzy Leading The Way

Once the pond was in sight, I turned east and started hiking up the hill. Again, no problems. The hill was not too steep, but once I got to the top of the hill I saw this.

ImageThe Snowfield Above Nydiver Lakes

Big suncups, about a foot deep on average, but in some places they were thigh high. I had never hiked on this kind of snow before, so I was not sure how it would go. But, I figured I was already up here and done with most of the gain for the hike, so let's just see how it goes. I stepped onto the snow, and it was rock hard, like walking on concrete, so it would be slow going stepping in and out of the suncups but I felt safe on the terrain. Fozzy was ok on the suncups too. He is so small that for the most part he was able to walk the little ridges between the cups.

Eventually, I made it to the east side of the hill on a patch of dry land and could see Nydiver Lakes below. I started heading down the hill on the patch of dry land, but soon hit a cliff with steep snow on both sides. I did not feel safe heading down the snow on either side of the cliff, but I could see a part of the snow field about 50 yards north where the slope was much more gentle. So, I hiked across the snow field, going slightly uphill until I made it to the more gentle slope and then headed down to the lake. This section felt like it took forever, but I think in actuality it took me about 15 minutes.

ImageUs At Nydiver Lakes
(the cliff where I got stuck is over my left shoulder in that picture)

We took a break at the first lake, and I checked out the route to the next lake. It would require crossing more snowfields and a small boulder field next to the first lake. I was pretty happy just making it to the first lake (I can't imagine many pomchis (pomeranian/chihuahua) have made it up to those lakes before), and I wanted to hike back over the snowfield before it got any warmer while the snow was still rock solid, so I decided that it was not worth continuing on. So after our break, we turned around and headed back up the hill. From the lake, I could see that there was much less snow on the northern part of the hill, so I stayed as far north as possible. Although this route added about 80 ft more of gain to the hike, I was able to make it to the top of the hill while avoiding the snow field for the most part and then once at the top of the hill, I hiked north to south across the snowfield where the terrain was mostly flat.

ImageNydiver Lakes

ImageMount Ritter And Banner Peak

I made it back across the snow by around 10:15 am. We then hiked back down the use trail to Lake Ediza. On the way back, we stopped by this great little waterfall along the inlet that was only about a 10-15 minute hike along the use trail from Lake Ediza.

ImageThe Waterfall Above Lake Ediza

We made it back to camp by 11. I had considered hiking to Iceberg Lake in the afternoon, but decided it was best to just call it a day. That night we were hit by some pretty strong winds, which kept the mosquitoes down, but made for rough sleeping as the gusts of wind banged into my tent.

For Wednesday, our goal was Thousand Island Lake. So, Wednesday morning, I forded the inlet, headed back down Shadow Creek and got back on the John Muir Trail to Garnet Lake. The wind was still blowing so hard, I actually thought it might knock Fozzy over, but he was fine and the wind kept us cool. The hike up to the pass leading down to Garnet Lake was through a forest, so there was not much in terms of views, but once we made it over the pass, we started to get great views of Garnet Lake and the surrounding area.

ImageMe And Fozzy At Garnet Lake

ImageLooking Down At Garnet Lake

We took a short break at Garnet Lake to filter water, and then pressed on to Thousand Island Lake. On the way to TI Lake, I ran into 3 different sets of backpackers who all told me the same thing: "Thousand Island Lake was too windy, so we are headed further up the trail to look for another place to camp." I figured, the wind might be bad at TI Lake, but the wind was also bad last night at Lake Ediza and I made it through that just fine, so I should just keep going.

When I got to TI Lake, the wind was a whole new level of bad. Instead of one big gust about every 10 to 15 minutes, which is what I had dealt with at Lake Ediza, there was a big gust every 30 seconds. I had no idea how I could even set up a tent in this kind of weather, so I considered my options. TI Lake is so scenic that I really wanted to be there for the sunrise and sunset, so I decided that the best thing to do was to retreat a short way back up the JMT to Emerald Lake. It took me a while but eventually I found a good campsite on a small granite hill above Emerald Lake and the JMT. It was windy here too, but more like Lake Ediza wind than TI Lake wind. I was about a half a mile from the inlet to TI Lake, but since you have to camp 1/4 of a mile from the inlet anyways, I was happy with my campsite location. Around 6pm the wind all of a sudden died down, and I headed back down to Thousand Island Lake for what was a great sunset.

ImageUs At TI Lake For The Sunset

ImageThousand Island Lake Sunset Panorama 2

Thursday morning, we headed back down to TI Lake for the sunrise. Instead of just hiking to the inlet, I headed a bit west of the JMT and hiked down to a long granite peninsula I saw from the hill above the lake.

ImageMe And Fozzy With The Reflection
ImageThousand Island Lake Reflection Panorama

We then hiked back to camp, packed up and headed back to Thousand Island Lake and then to the PCT to get back to Agnew Meadows.

ImageBanner Peak Reflection

I expected the High Trail/PCT to be hot, dry, and shadeless, but boy was it hot, dry, and shadeless and long. I think in the future I will opt for the River Trail instead, which I imagine is more shaded. The High Trail offers good views of the canyon and the Ritter Range, but the views of the mountains pale in comparison to the views during the inner part of the loop.

ImageUs On The High Trail

The hike from Emerald Lake was about 8.5 miles, so I was completely fried from the sun by the time I got to Agnew Meadows. Fozzy was fried too as I had to carry him for the last mile of the hike. But, we made it to the car by 1 pm and felt a lot better once we had the A/C blasting in our faces.

Thanks again to everyone here that gave me advice about this trip last week.
Last edited by larroyo33 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby abbaman » Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:20 am

I love that area, thanks for the great TR.
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Re: TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby rlown » Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:23 am

a very nice report. Hard to picture what a small dog thinks when it sees 12 inch sun cups that at times are bigger than it is. But just the right size of dog to be able to carry it over the hard stuff.

thanks for the report!

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Re: TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby cgundersen » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:56 am

Thanks for the report & gorgeous photos; I have a hunch that the side trip to Nydiver might be the beginning of something that'll open a new perspective of the less-visited areas of the Sierra. And, yes, I'm sure Fozzy saw few cousins up there, let alone the rest of the trip!
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Re: TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby ManOfTooManySports » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:12 am

Nice report and great photos. Your little dog is quite game to trek along with you for such a hike. And I'll add that I'm glad you are finding the joys of going off trail.

I'm curious if Fozzy had any problems getting skeeter bites on his snout or around his eyes.
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Re: TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby larroyo33 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:37 am

Yeah, I definitely felt like that hike up to Nydiver Lakes opened up a new door to the wilderness for me. Despite the suncups, hiking to Nydiver Lakes was really enjoyable and the route finding was not very hard. I think I will now always try to add at least a small off trail component to my future backpacking trips.

Fozzy did not seem to have any problem with the skeeters getting into his face. He did get bit some, but it was mostly his legs. The skeeters out there were numerous but they were really tiny ones, so I think Fozzy's long fur offered him some protection. Generally, the skeeters seemed much more interested in me than him.
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Re: TR: 6/17-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lakes

Postby FeetFirst » Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:05 am

Thanks for sharing. Your photos are just what I needed to get out of a Monday morning rut. :nod:
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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