Burger Dreaming Begins…
It’s started… Our thoughts are wandering to what big, fat, tasty piece of meat we’re going to devour when we get the chance! I’d stake my life on us having a burger and fries when we reach Red’s Meadow in a couple of days’ time.
Apart from the beautiful view of Thousand Island Lake, the best thing we’ve discovered today is the delight that is ‘beef jerky’! How we have not come across this tasty goodness in a packet before I don’t know. But now that we have, it will hopefully keep us going on the trail for the foreseeable future!
Thousand Island Lake – a stunning location to camp.
Day 6 – Rush Creek Trail to Thousand Island Lake (4.3 miles) – Wednesday 3rd September 2014 – ‘JMT Beach Chic’
After a cold night sleeping down Lyell Canyon the previous night, we had learnt our lesson and chosen a much better place to pitch the tent last night. It was just off the main trail, on top of a rocky knoll, close enough to Rush Creek, but still the magic 100 feet away (which is around 30 metres or 40 paces). What was good about it was that the rock had absorbed the sun’s heat throughout the day, so we could feel it re-radiating through our sleep pads, which meant we were warm and toasty throughout the whole night. Another plus point was that we were facing east so the sun had risen over the tent by 7:30am and warmed everything up. (As opposed to yesterday when we had frost and condensation on the tent, so we were waiting for the sun to crest above the mountain range until around 9am to dry everything out. Not good for people who are slow to get going in the morning as it is!)
The sun rises over our camp spot near to Rush Creek.
I suppose it didn’t really matter today though as it was a short walking day, with less than 5 miles to go, to reach Thousand Island Lake. We just had to get over Island Pass first at 10,221 feet, which didn’t seem too taxing after already hiking over Donahue Pass yesterday.
Setting off for ‘Thousand Island Lake’.
Banner Peak dominates today’s views.
On our way up from Rush Creek we were excited to spot a large stag (or ‘buck’ as the Americans would say) that was foraging for food in the woods. Nearing our destination we were also treated to a great view of Banner Peak, which totally dominates the skyline of Thousand Island Lake.
The first male deer we have spotted on the JMT.
Reaching the top of Island Pass, we were ‘wowed’ by the incredible view we saw of Thousand Island Lake. With not a single cloud in the sky, the sun shining brightly, and peacefulness all around, we simply sat in silence for a while to take it all in. The bright blue of the water looked stunning against the cool, crisp grey of the mountain peaks. It was a special moment as befitting such a special place.
Panoramic shot of Thousand Island Lake.
The different shades of blue are complimented by the cool grey of the mountains.
Banner Peak towers above Thousand Island Lake.
We were treated to incredible views from the top of Island Pass.
From the big to the small – Wayne looks on to Banner Peak.
Looking towards the opposite end of the lake where we’ll resume the trail tomorrow.
Tiny purple daisies that grow near the lake.
As we arrived around lunchtime we had the best pick of camp spots, so we chose a secluded area higher up behind some rocks and trees. For us, when choosing a place to pitch the tent it’s essential to have water nearby, plus a relatively concealed spot for going to the toilet, as well as a flat spot to place the bear canisters within eye sight of the tent. (Preferably away from any ledges where a bear could knock the canister downhill or into water). Today, our pitch had all these things, plus the added bonus of our own private beach! We both commented that people would pay a lot of money to enjoy the secluded spot we had right now.
Our fantastic camp spot at Thousand Island Lake looking onto Banner Peak.
Braving the water at our own private beach spot.
As we had all afternoon to literally laze around the lake, chilling out by the shore of Thousand Island it really felt like an afternoon on holiday as opposed to a gruelling schedule of hiking. We’ve tried to make our itinerary as easy going as possible, adding in some ‘half days’ and hiking no more than 13 miles a day. It’s a much gentler pace than the 18 miles a day we hiked on the Pennine Way as part of our training for the JMT and it’s great that we can really take our time to appreciate everything around us.
‘Half days’ also give us the chance to do a little laundry and I have time for the other all-important task of washing my hair. (Twice in 6 days for me is very conservative and rather hiker minded!)
Wayne rinses out some clothes at our camp area.
A rock warmed up by the sun is a great place for drying laundry!
After camp chores are complete, dinner is always a high priority for us. We always start an evening meal with a cuppa-soup (that we brought with us from England as they don’t seem to do powdered packet soups here in the USA – a bit of pre-planning research from Wayne). Then we have our main stock of protein (which is pre-cooked in a packet) consisting of either beef crumbles (minced beef), beef jerky (cured beef), chicken, salmon or tuna, used on a 5 night rotation. We have this with either of the following staples as an accompaniment – cous cous, instant noodles, stuffing mix or mashed potato of varying flavours. (It’s truly amazing what you can get in a packet in America!)
We really uphold that you don’t have to spend lots of money on expensive pre-prepared ‘hiker rations’ (unless you simply want the convenience of course). For less money, you can have something filling, with just as many calories and just as much flavour by being a little creative! (Just one tip to bear in mind – we do think that pre-cooked packet chicken resembles cat food, the ‘Felix As Good As It Looks’ variety – but don’t let that put you off!)
No more sweet potato mash! Back to instant noodle delights for dinner!
Then we always complete our dinner with a cup of hot chocolate to warm us through before bedtime, so in effect it feels like we’re having three courses. It’s just our way and what has become part of our daily routine, but it’s the little luxuries like that which almost certainly keep you going, especially after a tough day on the trail! (Or not!)
Panorama of Thousand Island Lake just before sunset.
We are treated to beautiful pink colours as the sun sets.
A long exposure shot of the lake at sunset.
The moon is out over Thousand Island Lake.
After our beautiful beach afternoon, we’re eager to enjoy a few more lakes on the JMT. I’m sure John Muir wouldn’t have said no to a bit of time kicking back and relaxing off-trail. It’s all part and parcel of the experience. After all, everyone’s here to enjoy the view!