We camp at the Agnew Meadow trailhead with plans of getting up early this morning to beat the heat, and possibly do Donahue pass today. But, those plans don’t come to fruition as we ignore the first light, hiding our heads under our sleeping quilts. I’ve come to grip with the fact we are not early risers on the trail.
We awake at 8 am and immediately get up, pack and begin hiking. I feel groggy on the trail as we climb without our coffee. We start the day with switchbacks and green grass. The trail is lush, with Lupine growing everywhere. In a week or two much of it will bloom.
We climb about 1,000 ft and hike about three miles then pull off trail to the left, and sit upon a giant slab of rock. I notice porous pebbles of pumice stone and play with it, light in my hand. We cook up some coffee, and I prepare breakfast: chocolate granola, PB granola, coconut milk powder and freeze dried strawberries. It’s actually quite tasty. The strawberries are delicious.
As we’re sitting eating, several hikers we know pass. First there’s Daddy Long Legs, then Sun Dog. We chat with each briefly then they hike off down the trail.
The trail follows along a ridgeline of green grass and foliage, alive like a giant meadow. Across the valley is endless granite. It’s where the JMT goes, and I remember walking the terrain several years ago with my brother. It was amazing to walk through, and now it’s equally beautiful to admire from afar as we hike along the PCT, paralleling the JMT from across the valley. The terrain on these opposing ridges are quite different.
We spot shadow lake, surrounded by granite. The falls cascading downward into the valley. The lake sits like a washbowl, surrounded and sitting at the feet of granite.
Our trail cuts into the forest and we stop to take a break. We’re feeling tired today. Do we take it as an opportunity to admire our surroundings. Further down trail I’m jolted when I see a body laying alongside the trail as I pass. It’s Daddy Long Legs, napping.
Lupine and I stop to talk to two young hikers a short distance ahead. They ask us questions about the PCT and soon Daddy Long Legs arrives as well. Then the three of us continue upward. DLL hikes with us and we chat as we climb, making the time and climb pass more quickly. Before we know it we emerge from the trees and walk along a stream poring into small pools, then continuing to rush onward. Then we merge with the JMT again and Thousand Island Lake stretches out before us. It’s a huge alpine lake with little islands scattered around it.
I remember being here before with my brother and stopping for a snack. It’s just as beautiful as I remember and I’m pleased for Lupine to see it. A giant backdrop of snow covered mountains sit behind it.
We eat lunch next to the lake, soaking up the sun. Today’s menu includes tuna with tortillas, followed by tortillas with Nutella. It’s delicious. We then lay in the sun, closing our eyes. It’s difficult to get up, but we eventually do.
From here we cross Island Pass, then descend. Streams are all around. We cross several. Some fill the trail with water. We reach the cutoff for Marie Lakes then cross the river yet again. The river here is beautiful as it splits into narrow streams, falling over rocks, forming into small pools. We spot a fish in the sunshine, his mouth opening and closing.
We then setup camp near the stream amongst the stone and pine trees. This is some of my favorite trail I’ve seen. The scenery fills my mind with tranquility. We eat dinner by the river, then sip hot cocoa with a touch of schnapps, a lil luxury Lupine has brought along.