High Sierra Trip: Crosscountry from Thousand Island Lake to Minaret Lake

The Minarets

After a ten-year hiatus from backpacking, we chose to get back into the High Sierra, but with updated gear.  With our new ultralight purchases, we enjoyed six nights traveling cross-country in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, with each of our packs weighing in at under 30 pounds, including fly fishing gear.  For the whole story, go back to the oldest post and read forward.

Last Stop

We drove the June Lake Loop on our way back out to Highway 395. We stopped at the Silver Lake Cafe, in the back of the lodge store across the street from Silver Lake. It has a homey, family feel – and GIANT mugs of coffee.

The northern end of the loop’s lake is a reservoir, and the landscape significantly changes at this end of the loop. We turn on to 395 north, and head back over Tioga Pass and home.

Stick People Part 2

Now that we are back in “civilization” with our electronic devices and wifi, I decided to investigate the benefits of trekking poles. Several websites tout specific benefits of using trekking poles: they are proven to reduce about 20% of the stress off of knees and hips. Okay, that got my attention. Also, because they use the upper body, they help condition the upper body and burn more calories. I suppose that this is important if the purpose of my trip is fitness. But, I’m not looking to burn yet more calories on a backpack trip – that means I have to carry more calories. Also, I don’t know how much the benefits of using poles compares to merely reducing the weight I carry – both on my body, as well as in my backpack. Plenty of people sing their praises. I’m just not convinced this is necessary gear. Maybe when I am ten years older…

Tiger Bar & Grill

After coming out of the back country, the second order of business (after a shower) is a freshly made hamburger. With the afternoon rain, the locals started gathering, hanging out and playing pool. It’s clearly home base for both locals and tourists in June Lake. Burgers were good, and the menu has plenty more tempting options.

Town Life

We got to June Lake in time for yet another downpour. We soaped away six days of sweat and sunscreen, and changed into town clothes.

The Tiger Bar was just a block away. Popular with both tourists and locals, it’s the gathering place in June Lake. Yummy burgers and onion rings ordered, we hung out and watch the ebb and flow of customers while we sipped gin and tonics.

Back at the motel, we watched television to see if we missed anything significant. We didn’t.

Tourist Stop

The downhill hike to Devils Postpile, the ranger station and shuttle stop was easy and uneventful. The were significant areas with fallen trees, and plenty of work had made the trail passable.

Once we reached the area of the postpiles, we had entered the land of day trippers with clean hair and fresh laundry. I’m sure that we looked and smelled…well, bad. We dropped our packs at the path junction and hiked up to the top of the postpiles. Ver-ry cool – they look like pavers.

Down below, it’s amazing to see how the lava channeled and formed in the natural order of a hexagon pattern.

We hike back to the junction, grab our packs and hike to the ranger station/shuttle stop. We don’t even have time to drink our freshly mixed Wyler’s – two (!) shuttle buses show up within 5 minutes of our arrival at the stop. We hop on.

At the last stop, a group of backpacking scouts crowd onto the shuttle. We listen to one of the boys brag about his 60-pound pack. I hope that he is exaggerating – it would be irresponsible, and frankly stupid, for the leader to allow this. While not everyone can afford ultralight gear, a “regular” pack and gear can be perfectly adequate weighing in at 40 pounds.

Relieved to be off of the crowded shuttle, we stopped for a beer at the “chalet” at Mammoth Mountain. But, there were just too many tourists for us after our relatively solitary days in the high country. We loaded up and headed for motel room waiting for us in June Lake.