There and Back Again

Agnew Meadows Trail Head via River Trail Back South on JMT to Rosalie Lake: 21 miles in three days

August 11th: Rest day at June Lake and Lake George

August 12th: 9 miles from Agnew Meadows to San Joaquin River on River Trail

August 13th: 12 miles through Thousand Island Lake to Rosalie Lake

Billy here. After five days on the trail, we woke up in the motel and decided to take a day off. We reorganized our bear vaults, resupplied out of the van, and then had eggs benedict and bloody marys at The Tiger in June Lake. It was a real treat and reminded us of being in Portland, OR at Genie’s with friends. It was so fun that we decided to continue our vacation from vacationing and get Tecate, chips and salsa and sit at the shore of June Lake and write postcards all afternoon until a thunderstorm sent us back into the car. We drove back to Mammoth Lakes and decided to camp at Lake George and complete the rest day by sleeping on flat ground before getting back on the trail. This was a crowded and noisy family campground, agitated further by the sighting of a scampering young bear before dusk through the middle of it. So the rest of the night, every sound sent teens, kids and adults alike into choruses of “Is it another bear?”, in between choruses of “Down by the Bay” sung to toddlers on one side of us, to the snarky sibling rivalry of the five preteens on the other side of us. So much for catching up on sleep. 

We woke up early, drove into Mammoth Lakes to mail postcards and post a blog at Java Joint before parking and catching the shuttle back to Devil’s Postpile. By this time the sky was gray and rain was coming down steadily. Despite the frequent assurances to tourists by the shuttle driver that the rain only lasts a little while in the afternoon in the Sierras and would soon clear out, it continued to rain for the rest of the day. We didn’t mind at all, for it was pleasantly cool and the water brought out the lovely scent of sage and pine. We hiked back up the River Trail towards Thousand Island Lake to take the JMT back down south into Devil’s Postpile National Monument. It rained all through the first night and rainstorms loomed the rest of the next day, though it cleared up enough in the morning to dry our things out before the trek to Thousand Island Lake. Good smells of earth, yarrow, sage and evergreens surrounded us. We took shelter under a boulder during a thunderous rain and had lunch near Garnet Lake. The dark boulders shone silver in the rain and the soft sea greens and yellows of wild herbs and flowers seemed vivid in the grey misty afternoon. It was incredible watching the rain squall move over the valley below slowly like an enormous jellyfish. The rain continued almost until dusk, when we set camp at Rosalie Lake and watched the sun set over the waters. We snuggled into the tent chilled, stripping of our wet rain gear and slowly went to sleep, listening to a bear sniff around our campsite as we drifted off.

spence here! june lake and the boulder lodge, “cabin” #10 (double-wide) was certainly not the worst $95 i ever spent. i slept hard on the motel slab bed, but had dreams i was still 100 yards from half dome and the setting sun. i really had enjoyed the previous night’s camp, our granite out-cropping, sleeping out under the sky.  but i also appreciate a good ‘ol bloody mary and eggs benedict brunch! the tiger bar felt like an up north haven, where everyone knew each other and got dressed up in the sweatshirt without the stains to go talk to the bartenders about the weather and fishing.  i especially appreciated the 4 older women next to us celebrating their friends 85th birthday with mimosas! in my secret quest to find the cutest small town to settle near, june lake, california was top ten.

our chip and dip afternoon wore on as we kicked off the hiking shoes and opted for flip flops and more family-style car camping. it does have its up and downs, but exploring many of the lakes in mammoth lakes was fun. lake george was picture perfect, with tiny cabins, colorful row boats, fisher-people and towering cliffs on one side. i wasn’t thrilled with the noisy campers, but it is to be expected when all the sites are open and right on top of each other.

i was excited to get back on the beloved river trail. it will always be in my memory as one of the most care-free, curious, handsome natural areas i have ever been. watching the san joaquin river weave its way effortlessly over and through the striped rocks reminded me i should be so lucky to flow through life like that. the water felt intelligent and full of breath. our hike took us to back through the thousand island lake region where we turned left to follow the jmt back down, making an incredible scenic loop, eventually winding our way back to devils postpile.

highlights for me included all the alpine lakes.  i will never tire of these amazing, refreshing eco-systems. emerald lake, ruby lake, garnet lake (where we had lunch with a view of the origin of one of the waterfalls we had been glancing through the trees for the last 2 days), shadow lake and finally rosalie lake. water so clear you swear you could see whole cities, loved ones from the past and your deeper self.

shadow lake was indeed in a shadow the whole day, not just from the clouds and the down pour of rain we endured being there, but because of the high cliffs surrounding it. in my tantrum (i was mad because while i was pumping water everything i owned was soaked…water everywhere!) i still tried to see through my speckled glasses the beauty of the mist and steaming water.  surprisingly, the lakes were sometimes warmer than the air–heated by the high tempertaures of the summer.  i guess i’m used to oregon, where every body of water is freezing, all year long.

rosalie lake was a good rest spot, even with the bear sniffing around at night. i stretched my aching legs and watched the sun go down over the lake. what’s tomorrow going to be like?!!

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