Backpacking to Thousand Islands

Minaret Lake from Peak 3113

In late July 2021 I went on a moderate backpacking trip out of Agnew Meadows (near Devils Post Pile) hitting Thousand Island, Ediza and Minaret Lakes. I went with a group of six of which I knew only one person, my good friend Brian who I’ve done a lot with (Shasta, Williamson, Lassen, Convict Lake and Mt. Morrison). Overall we spent four easy days going 31 miles and nearly 6,000 ft, including some day hikes that Brian and I did. (map)

Thousand Island Lake (Day 1)

Passing the gate at 6:30am we grabbed 2/5 remaining parking spots at Agnew Meadows. After watching a 20 person youth group head towards Shadow Lake, we chose the PCT as our route instead to Thousand Island Lake (really 50-island lake). 

Both us and the rain arrived at Thousand Island at 12:30pm putting us in full rain gear and rooting around for a place to setup camp while walking past eight existing tents. The search was difficult, as every time I saw a flat area it was pooled until we found two dry spots by trees. The rain lasted until 3pm and the pools on flat ground disappeared soon after.

Wet, flat areas.

Wanting to see more of the lake, Brian and I did a day hike to end of Thousand Island and then cross countried up a rise past mountain lion poop for an amazing view of Thousand Island (really 50-island).

Thousand Islands Lake (left). Ritter and Banner (right)

Ediza Lake (Day 2)

We got out late (around 9:15am) and hit the JMT towards Garnet Lake, stopping for lunch by a shallow babbling river. The trail was filled with our singing of The Gambler by Kenny Rodgers and busy with several large parties of six or more this day.

Our babbling river

The rain came later at 3pm and (due to our slow start) we again got caught in the rain again trying to put up tents. It again stopped two hours later at 5pm and we stuck around camp for the evening. Brian and I were considering doing Ritter without the group the following morning, but in the end found it pretty risky finding our crew again, climbing on rock that had been rained on for two days and climbing it when rain could come as early as noon. Therefore we passed and decided to stick with the group on the next day.

Ritter at Sunset

Minaret Lake (Day 3)

We started with a short climb to Iceberg Lake and then up Class 2 talus towards Cecile Lake. The route finding was difficult in sections with Cairns blending in with the rock and I got off trail going too high a couple times.

Iceberg to Cecile Lake Class 2 trail

Cecile Lake was a talus hop and then a decent Class 2 decent down to Mineret Lake. It was a big first experience for several members of the party and I was glad they felt proud of themselves afterwards.

Talus hop around Cecile Lake

This day we setup camp around 12:30pm to beat the rain which of course didn’t come this day. The short three miles taking a lot of time due to the more technical terrain. To pass the time, Brian and I climbed Peak 3113 near camp up a Class 3 route we made up and then took a peek at the Minaret Mine hiking fast up a ridgeline across from 3113.

Going for a swim at Minaret Lake

The rest of the evening we spent playing Question to a lot of giggling and I read my book a little before dinner.

Red Tape at Devil’s Post Pile (Day 4)

Our last day was a downhill seven mile hike to Devil’s Post Pile before catching a ride from the bus to Agnew Meadows.

I thought The Bus running through Devils Post Pile would be pretty lenient with backpackers but instead the driver was pretty strict. We were greeted with a request for $15 per person and wearing a mask. (some of the group was told $7.50 at the visitor center though)


I’m not used to so many people in the Eastern Sierra, but this trip was pretty heavily trafficked with 6-8 backpacking groups per lake and several 6+ parties on trail. I really enjoyed the groups high moral and good attitude over the trip. It made integrating myself into their friendships easy and welcoming.

However, I did had a hard time with things taking a bit longer than they normally would for me. It wasn’t uncommon to wait 1-2 hours in the morning for us to get going after I was packed up. In all, it was a good trip I enjoyed but I do wish we got a little more milage in for a four day trip.

Happy Trails.