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Backpacking in the Eastern Sierra

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Thousand Island LakeThis summer has been one of the longest I’ve been able to experience since I moved to Mammoth almost seven years ago. With warmer than usual temperatures, and hiking trails open early this season due to the little snow fall that Mammoth Mountain got this last winter, backpacking has been an ever so popular adventure for many. I had never been backpacking in the Eastern Sierra until this summer, and now that I’ve gone with friends, and by myself, I can’t imagine another summer not going out into the backcountry and getting a taste of the beauty that surrounds us here in the Eastern Sierra.

Starting my addiction to the backcountry off, I took a few small one nighters out with friends to better familiarize myself with what backpacking actually entailed before venturing out on my own. I’ve done years of hiking in the Eastern Sierra with my father who’s been a long time resident of Mammoth Lakes. I think these small trips and weekly hikes, along with the experience my father had given me over the years helped prepare me for my little adventure to Garnet Lake and Thousand Island Lake solo.

Thousand Island LakeGarnet Lake and Thousand Island Lake are located in the Ansel Adams Wilderness which you access through Red’s Meadow, leaving from the Agnew Meadow trail head. There are various routes you can take to both lakes, so I choose my paths and took off on a weekend getaway unlike any other I’d ever experienced. Garnet Lake is about 7 miles in and is a gorgeous lake sitting just below Banner and Ritter. Setting up camp and camping out on your own in the blissfulness of the Eastern Sierra is something not quite explainable. After one night at Garnet I took off to Thousand Island Lake a few extra miles in. This is a huge lake also nestled under the Minarets with breathtaking views from anywhere you plan to pitch your tent. The lake is huge with beautiful rocky islands and peninsulas surrounded by small trees and shrubs even having a few small beaches, making for a picturesque experience and day filled with island hopping and swimming, if you’re brave enough to jump in the crisp cold lake. I saw more than just a few people out on the various trails I was on, families, couples, groups of friends, all out there experiencing this serene setting of the great outdoors. After a couple days of enjoying some Eastern Sierra lakes, trails, and the much needed quite alone time, I headed out, grateful most of the hike was descending.

In taking these steps to prepare myself for my weekend adventure in backpacking, I would recommend for those looking to experience the same, with little experience of their own, taking a look at various backpacking websites on what to bring, how to pack, and how to be prepared, is just the beginning to your backpacking adventure. Here’s a great website to get you started: backpacker.com/gear-guide-2012-rip-equip-backpacks/gear

Submitted by Eryn Coffey. Eryn@RPExperts.com. 310-753-7831

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