Island Pass Perfection

Marie Lakes to Agnew Meadows
(14 miles, +1,200/-3,700 feet).

After our terrible, terrible experience on Rush Creek yesterday we all agreed that we should not do a there-and-back hike back to Bloody Canyon.  So today we hiked to Agnew Meadows where we could get the bus down to Mammoth.  It was another great day on the PCT.

I got up this morning around 5am and couldn’t stop taking pictures (sorry, there are a lot).

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Morning moon on Marie
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The dawn slowly rises on Marie Lakes
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Sunrise
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Marie Lakes from the outlet
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View down valley from Marie Lakes
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Marie Lakes Outlet
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Marie Lakes alpenglow
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Full sunrise on Marie Lakes

Once I could not take any more photos I returned to camp and we packed up to head back down to the PCT.

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Climbing out of Marie Lakes
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Morning light on the Ritter Range
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Rush Creek basin
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Mount Lyell
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Shadow selfie

We made it back down to the PCT around 7am and picked up speed to get away from buggy Rush Creek.

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Outrunning the mozzies

By 8am we arrived at Island Pass, where we were bug free.  I wasn’t expecting much because it is a pretty flat pass and at 10,225 feet it is not much higher than the surroundings.  But I was so wrong.  I saw possibly the most beautiful views I have ever seen there, reflected in the many crystal-calm tarns at the pass.

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Island Pass perfection
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MixMaster and BarnFinder wait for me to snap a few photos

The descent from Island Pass was equally dramatic, with spectacular views of Thousand Island Lake below Banner Peak and Mount Ritter.

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Thousand Island Lake
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Thousand Island Lake
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Thousand Island Lake

We took a long break and got water at the outlet to Thousand Island Lake.  We then continued on the PCT where it split from the John Muir Trail.

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Bye, bye JMT!

The next few hours we walked in and out of forests, stream basins, and wildflower gardens as we (mostly) hugged the 9,600 foot topo line.

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Middle Fork San Joaquin River
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BarnFinder and MixMaster make good progress
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Shady (though at times buggy) woods
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Spectacular wildflower gardens
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Lupine garden

After a while, we encountered a pair of hikers who were taking photos.  We asked if they would take ours.  It was a good thing, because one of them was a photographer!  She didn’t charge us, though.

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Professional shot

The trail started descending towards Agnew Meadows.  It was pretty hot, so we each put in our headphones to listen to some tunes.

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Rock garden
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BarnFinder rocks on
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Ritter Range across the valley
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Intensely red lichen
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Shadow Lake (can you find it?) nestled below the Sierra
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PCT, baby!
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Wildflowers
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More wildflowers

By 1pm we made it down to Agnew Meadows and our adventure was over.  BarnFinder and MixMaster rented a car to retrieve ours from the Bloody Canyon Trailhead and we checked into a hotel to shower and rest up before heading back to San Diego the following day.

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Bye bye Ansel!
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