Hiking with Holly

Day 1: Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake via the River Trail     

Starting out at Agnew Meadows or going to Thousand Island Lake was no new hike for us, but taking the River trail was something new.

Two years ago when we hiked from Mammoth to Yosemite, we took the PCT/ High Trail out of Agnew Meadows over to Thousand Island Lake.  But this time, I was not even sure we could hike, so I did not secure us a permit ahead of time.  We had to obtain a walk-up permit the day before.  I chose the River Trail to experience something new and to try and avoid a hard climb right off the bat.  I guess I should have known that it would not be as easy as I thought when a friend mentioned that he only ever hiked that trail coming back in and to let him know if it’s hard going the other way.  Not something you usually want to hear before starting a hike. I put it in the back of my mind and tried to focus on all the beauty that I was going to be immersed in.

We decided on a short trip to see how we would even do at backpacking.  With Gannon and I both having surgeries, it was a testing the waters kind of trip.  With our modifications, we were confident this trip would be the start of many to come!

We catch the 8am shuttle out of Mammoth Adventure Park down to Agnew Meadows.   I am excited to be out there starting a new adventure.  I am not so sure that Cordlan is.  We find a nice lady that offers to take our pre-hike photo and we are off!


An interesting observation about Cordlan that we have noticed over the course of our hikes is that he is quite pessimistic in the beginning.  He always takes off ahead of us, sometimes to the point that we don’t see him till we are right up on him.  He never hikes with us on the first day and seems to want to hike mostly alone.  We’ll take breaks and see him, but we never push him to stay with us.  God has a way of working on everyone differently out there and I always feel it is God’s way of helping him decompress from his busy life to one that is slower paced and living in the moment.






The trail starts out quite nice.  We are hiking on a ridgeline not quite down in the valley, but slowly descending into it.  Thick forest and a beautiful rushing river greet us and stay with us for a very long time.  As we take our breaks alongside the river, I keep reminding myself to soak up every single moment I can.  The climb out of this valley feels like it will neverrrrrrrr end.  At one point, I stop and tell Gannon that I just don’t think I can do this.  But literally 5 minutes later, we are going over a saddle and arriving in the area surrounding Thousand Island Lake.

IMG_1362 (1)

One of our goals is to recreate the photo that Gannon took of Cordlan and I last time we were there.  Unfortunately, we are unable to locate Cordlan anywhere upon arrival at the location.  Gannon and I do the best we can, but notice that we don’t have the same camera, so for some reason it is showing Banner Peak at a much further distance away. Not a perfect recreation, but we have to go with the flow.

Mammoth Lakes


We catch up to Cordlan and start looking for a campsite.  We find a good site and try to start setting up for the night.  Everyone is tired, so this is much easier said than done.


We bring a new water filter to try on this trip.  Actually, I brought 2 with us, but Gannon makes the decision to only bring one of them with us to save on weight.  The one we brought is having major problems.  It is taking forever to filter water and a lot of muscle to do so.  If we can’t filter water, we have a potential problem.  We would need to boil all the water that we use for the rest of the trip.  Gannon is able to clean it after each bottle fill up, and gets it to work for us.  Not easy, but doable.

I make mac n cheese for dinner with bacon bits and we see a lot more people now arriving in the area to get a site for the night.  We are grateful we got a good one, even though it’s exposed, it has a great view.


I downloaded a few episodes of a show before we got out there, so we watch one episode and by 9:00pm, we are calling it a night.  Unfortunately, the moment we are all settled in bed, Gannon gets the worst muscle cramps of his life.  He did everything he normally does to prevent them, but is taken over by them.  He can’t move or get himself out of the tent.  I have Cordlan come and help me get him out of tent.  He is hobbling around and trying to stretch as best he can.  He takes another potassium pill and continues to walk and stretch.  I take that moment to look up into the night sky.  Wow!!  It is a clear night and I can see billions of stars.  The Milky Way feels like it is right over my head and I can just reach out and touch it.  To top it off, a big shooting star streaks across the whole night sky.  Truly amazing!

We all climb back into our tents now and settle back in.  Then it hits me.  A huge wave of the cold sweats washes over me and I feel like I’m going to throw up.  I have some pretty bad gas pains and Gannon tells to me just rip as many farts and burps that I need to.  I am asking him to get me his pee bag (gallon ziplock for middle of the night pee times) so that I can throw up in it.  That full on attack happens twice.  I start praying that this will go away, plus farting and burping as much as humanly possible.   I always think it’s the worst to be sick out in the middle of now where.  Within 30 minutes, the feeling subsides; I lie down and go right to sleep!  Sooo strange.  Maybe it was more of an adrenaline rush kind of thing from what just happened with Gannon?  I end up sleeping ok, but Gannon and Cordlan don’t seem to have as much luck.  Quite the first day.  Hoping for a much more relaxed day tomorrow.

Click here to see more photos from Day 1!

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