Hikes: Ediza Lake
I love Forrest Berkley. Why? Because he is a true perfectionist. Not that he gets everything perfect, but he is the type of thinker and planner who is reaching around corners for something, if unattended to, will bite you in the ass. (A guy did actually bite Forrest in the ass, but that is another story.)
Here is a lightly edited copy of Forrest’s draft itinerary for a trip, which I will call The Forrest Octet, eight items for us to note for the trip. We were invited by Forrest to contemplate a Sierras hiking trip in the summer of 2021. He planned a trip to Ediza Lake as way for us to revisit one of the prettiest and most pristine lakes in the High Sierras. The many lakes in the area and the beautiful, above-timberline vistas are epic and worth visually drinking in, one blink at a time.
One of My Favorite Hikes in the Sierras
Yesterday I had the horse-packing outfit, called Reds Meadow Resort and Pack Station, contact the US Forest Service, to issue the permit for our trip. (Actually there are two permits, a wrinkle which is explained below).
The permit calls for us to meet the horse-packer (a person) at the Agnew Meadows trailhead, to the West of Mammoth Lakes, CA, early on the morning of Thursday, August 19, with mules to carry our gear to Ediza Lake. Plus, either a number of additional mules or horses to carry as many of our group as choose to ride up the Lake. This involves an ascent in elevation from about 8,300 feet to 9,300. Unless you come a few days early to acclimatize to the thin air at this elevation, I strongly recommend that you pay the additional $175 per pack animal to ride in, which I am definitely going to do.
The 4 nights we will camp at Ediza Lake are August 19-20-21-22. On Monday, August 23, the horse packer will return probably by noon, but maybe not until later that day, with mules to carry our gear back to our cars, plus additional animals for any of us who choose to ride down. Because I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee 18 days ago, and at the time of our trip it will have been only 8 weeks since the surgery, I am definitely going to reserve an animal for riding down.
2. Arrival and departure dates from Mammoth Lakes: We all absolutely need to be able to rendezvous in Mammoth Lakes by mid-morning on Wednesday, August 18, to give us time to shop for food for the 4 nights/5 days of camping, and to buy any last minute gear.
If possible, it would be better if Henry and Jamey could find to get to Mammoth the night before, meaning on Tuesday, August 17. I am flying into Los Angeles 5 days earlier, and staying in a cabin that’s only a half hour drive from Mammoth on the night of August 17. Dave is planning to drive in 1-1/2 days from his home in Albuquerque, NM, to the Mammoth Area, and will probably stay on the night of August 17 at the same place as I am staying.
The nearest airports to Mammoth Lakes that have non-stop service from Portland (for Henry) are Reno (3 hours drive from Mammoth), Los Angeles (5 hours) and Las Vegas (5-1/4 hours). [I recommend against flying into Fresno, to eliminate the risk of a forest fire closing the road across Yosemite.] From Boston (which is where I presume Jamey will be flying from), I think the best options are Los Angeles and Reno.
I don’t know if either Henry or Jamie is going to spend additional time visiting other areas in California on the trip, but if not, perhaps one option is for both of them to fly Nonstop into Los Angeles on August 17, to arrive by noon or so, and then they could carpool in a single vehicle up to Mammoth? If Henry then chooses to fly back from Reno (which is a shorter drive than to Los Angeles), I can give Jamey a ride back to Los Angeles on August 24.
Since the horse packer might not be able to get us back to our cars at Agnew Meadows until potentially as late as 5pm on August 23, I strongly recommend that we all plan to spend that night in Mammoth, where we can have an end of trip celebration. I can recommend some places to stay, which you should book soon.
3. Permits (more): The two permits, for two camp spots a mile apart. Before I contacted Dave and Henry 8 days ago to propose this idea, I called Reds Meadow to ensure that we could get a Forest Service permit to stay at Ediza on these dates. Which they assured me would not be a problem. But when I called back to confirm the dates, it turned out that they had made an error. Because Reds had already used up all of its total Ediza camping allotment for the entire season!
What I ended up booking was one permit for two of us to camp at Lake Ediza, and up to 4 additional people to camp in a location in what they call the Shadow Creek Corridor, which is about 1 trail mile before Ediza. So if we are just a group of 4 (and not 6 people), the theory is that 2 of us are supposed to camp a mile from Ediza. We could ignore the limitation and all stay at Ediza, but there is a risk of being fined for breaking the rules. Reds Meadow has contacted the other groups that got their Ediza reservations in earlier this year, and if any of them cancel 2 persons from their groups, Reds will get our permit amended to give the Ediza spots to us. And there may be other ways to skin this cat, I’ll explain by phone.
In the worst case, 2 of us will have to sleep at the Shadow Creek campsite. But we could all meet at Ediza for dinner and breakfast, before and after our day hikes.
4. The Route to Ediza:
The link below takes you to a map of the area. The yellow lines show the primary trails. Agnew Meadows, where our cars will be parked, is in the lower right hand corner of the map.
Our route on Day 1, August 19 from the cars to Ediza is outlined in Yellow. The trail from Agnew Meadow heads west, and drops gradually to join the River Trail; crosses the stream shown on the map (Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River) at an elevation of about 8300 feet; switch-backs moderately steeply uphill to the west up to Shadow Lake; continues we along the inlet stream of Shadow Lake; joins the John Muir Trail for about 1/2 mile, and then continues west along the stream flowing from Ediza into Shadow Lake.
The Shadow Creek Campsite is about 1/4 mile before we first reach the shore of Ediza. To continue to the Ediza Campsite, we walk clockwise around Ediza, and wade across the inlet streams coming from the west. The Ediza campsite is in the small green area under the “k” in Ediza Lake.
5. My Thoughts on Where to Go on Our 3 Full Days, While Camped:
Day 2, August 20 – Easy warm-up hike uphill to the west of Ediza, along a trail not shown on the map, along a small stream that flows into Ediza from the northwest from the slopes of Mt. Ritter (the tallest peak in the area, first climbed by John Muir in 1872) and then heading north east to the Nydiver Lakes, before retracing the gradual route back to Ediza, or descending directly an steeply to Ediza. (And no, Henry, Ediza Lake is not named after one of John Muir’s two daughters. His children were Wanda & Helen, no Ediza. I am not sure where the name comes from.)
Day 3, August 21 – Along the yellow trail that heads south from Ediza Lake to Iceberg Lake, and from there on to Cecile Lake (a/k/a Upper Iceberg Lake), or route-finding to a gap to the northwest of Iceberg Lake on the ridge that includes the Minarets spires, which are epic.
Day 4, August 22 – From Ediza Lake, head East, back down the Shadow Creek trail, to the junction with the John Muir Trail (JMT). Turn left/North on the JMT to go to Garnet Lake. And for those who are feeling spry, continue on the JMT to Thousand Island Lake, where there is a particularly glorious view of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. Retrace steps to Ediza, or use an above-timberline route with no trail to return to Ediza.
Day 5, August 23 – The horse packer and mules return to pick up our gear, along with mules or horses for anyone who wants to ride down. Because Reds Meadow will not commit in advance to the hour when they will arrive at Ediza, our gear might not arrive back at Agnew Meadows until as late as 5pm (although usually it is by 3pm). So I recommend that we all stay overnight in Mammoth Lakes, which I am Definitely Going to do Myself. If anyone else absolutely needs to drive off earlier that day, I can arrange to mail any of your gear back to you that you don’t want to carry down.
I will email around a list of what you should bring. Reds Meadow will provide both a bear-proof cooler (which we can fill with ice packs, to keep perishables cold) and a bear-proof dry food metal storage container. I will provide some basic camp stools and a small roll-up dining table, plus stoves and cooking gear.) Can everyone bring their own tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mattress? If not, I can probably borrow some from friends in Los Angeles when I arrive before the rest of you.
7. Food: ever important, recipes to follow and we will discuss later. After some stomach surgery a few years ago, I don’t drink, so you are on your own for adult libations.
8. Costs: Looking at the beasts of burden, there are considerations for horses, the horse packer, etc. Each way (up to Ediza, or back to the cars) costs the following: $275 for the packer, $150 for each pack animal carrying gear (up to 150 pounds per animal), plus $175 for each person who chooses to ride. Plus a tip for the horse packer, something like $50-$100 each way.
Other expenses: food, airfare, rental cars, hotels before and after trip, gear that you choose to buy for yourself.
That’s a quick summary. More to come later. I hope we can talk in a few minutes. My wife is going to send each of a Zoom Link.
Thanks! – FB
P.S. getting excited for this adventure. I hope the fires hold off for our trip…more on that later.
Suggestions for camping equipment for Ansel Adams Wilderness Area Camping Trip, August 2021
Packing and Luggage
Large Duffel Bag (or Bags?) I recommend putting an inner duffel inside an outer one, to minimize the risk of a tear on the baggage handling belt and some of your contents spilling out) — and put inside your name, address, itinerary inside. You might also add a separate outer strap to support the zipper, unless the design of your bag has built-in outer straps across the zipper.
Duffel Bag Locks (ones that theTSA can open and — in theory — recluse). Put any metal items (like tent stakes or poles) toward the top, so that they are easy for the TSA to examine.
Day Pack (20-30 liters) and Small rain cover for pack
Larger backpack, in case you decide need to leave earlier than the rest of the group, for example to deal with any medical issues
Heavy duty “Freezer”model zip lock gallon and quart bags
2 to 4 stuff sacks for organizing things
Medium-sized Fanny pack for phone, wallet, etc,
Sleeping Bag — since it’s very unlikely to rain too much, a down-filled bag is fine. Or synthetic insulation. I recommend one with a temperature rating down to30 degrees. Check in advance of trip to ensure that the zipper works.
Tent (set up to check that poles and stakes and fly fit, and that you have all the necessary parts! /And that the zippers work)
Sleeping pad, such as the inflatable Gixibata that I sent an earlier email about. Trekking poles
Hiking Boots. Be sure they are both broken in, and in decent shape with tread left on the bottom. Medium-weight, medium height, to reduce the risk of a sprained ankle.
Strap-on Sandals or crocs to wear crossing a stream or two.
Goretex top, lightweight version
Rain pants are not a bad idea, though probably optional. Marmot makes a decent lightweight pair, usually available for about $75.
Some kind of a synthetic fabric top, perhaps made of polypropylene (1 or two) Fleece jacket, medium weight. Temperature might drop as low as 40 degrees at night
Mittens? I really like a type of super light weight goretex mitten shells that REI sells, called the Minimalist mitten shell. They are fabulous if it’s raining to keep your hands dry without getting you too hot. One of my favorite gear discoveries of the last few years. You can either wear just the shells, or pair them in winter with a thin inner mitten of wool or a synthetic fabric. On sale right now for $34.
Fleece Hat, light weight for sleeping at night, or if you get wet Wide-brimmed sunhat (a good idea to bring a spare, in case you lose one.)
Shirts and Pants
2-3 Lightweight hiking pants
2 lightweight Long-sleeved shirts
3-4 Short-sleeved shirts, preferably with a collar to prevent sun burn
Undies and socks
Enough Underwear bottoms for 4 days of hiking, plus for days before and after camping portion of trip
4 Pairs inner socks
2-3 pairs of outer socks, if you use both inner and outer socks.
First aid kit — I will have many of these items for the group, but bring any individual items that you think you might need
Bandaids, small and large
Surgical tape and gauze pads, Ace elastic bandage
Moleskin (I will definitely have lots)
Athlete’s foot cream
Lanolin, for dry skin A&D Ointment
Sunscreen SPF 45+, lots (Bring whatever brand you like)
Any special creams or ointments you might need, for maladies that Shall Not Be Named
Antibiotic cream, Equate or similar
Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen or other headache medicine that you use
Support braces for knee and ankle, if you ever use them
I will bring a Battery-powered Shower for bathing, using water that we heat on the camp stove
Medium-sized wash towel
Small bar hand soap, small container shampoo
Anti-bacterial hand cleaner (Purel)
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Bio Wipes and Pre-Moistened Tissues (I will have these)
Tools, utensils, repair stuff
Swiss army knife or Leatherman
2 Headlamps and spare alkaline AA or AAA batteries
Two Nalgene water bottles, 1 liter capacity
Sunglasses — Bring at least TWO pairs. The sun can be intense at elevation. If you don’t already own a pair with dark lenses and removable side shields, I recommend the Julbo Colorado Model, $50 on Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Julbo-Colorado-Mountain-Sunglasses-Spectron/dp/B001O0DN4K/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2ZFXM3XTC7F36&dchild=1&keywords=julbo+colorado&qid=1627130508 &sprefix=Julbo+colorad%2Caps%2C228&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&smid=A29S2OAT50BK3U&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaW VyPUExME9ZWExITkxMNEVJJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDg5MTk4MkVFV FgwWks1UTgwVSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwODI0MDUxMkxETlRYS1Qx TUJDSiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
Books and Maps
I will have several maps of the area
Books to read
Electronics, packed in something waterproof, a double ZipLock bag at a minimum
Digital SLR camera and case, spare battery
Cell phone plus AC Wall and 12V chargers
I will bring Walkie-talkies
Maybe iPad or laptop, for use before or after camping. You could lock this item in your car while we are on the trip, at some unknown risk of theft. Reds Meadow says there have been no reports of break-ins at the Agnew Meadows trailhead.
Did someone say food? Try this one for dinner & Other delights below the killer chicken
Chicken Tikka Masala — Proportions for recipe for the guinea pig
Every night I recommend you do a Rain Dance:)
On Wed, Jul 28, 2021 at 6:10 PM Jamey French <Jameyf@northlandforest.com> wrote:
Made this tonight—added a few cooked shrimp at the end and about 2/3rds of the spic mix and it is very good. It will taste great at 9000’
The tomato sauce is a good addition I think. And I went for 75% of the coconut.
Excellent and not too spicy at all for me
Hoping the fires stay away from us—I am getting very psyched for this trip
On Jul 20, 2021, at 9:31 AM, forrest berkley <email@example.com> wrote:
Normally I make a larger batch for a group of people, so I will make suggestions for what the proportions might be for your test.
In addition to the cheese grater, you’ll need a medium-sized sauce pan with vertical sides, maybe 2 to 3 quarts, and a bit of some kind of cooking oil, like olive oil or canola.
Onions (unless you don’t like them)
1. Use the larger round holes on the grater, or a cutting board with knife, to cut up some of the onion into pieces about 1/4 in size. Sauté them briefly in some oil, but stop cooking them before they start to turn brown.
Chicken, spice packet, Coconut, Peeled Tomatoes, Corn
2. Open the can of chicken and drain off all the water, possibly by pushing down on a full detached lid as you pour off the water into a sink.
3. Add HALF of the spice packet. (Once you taste the final mixture, if you like it and it’s not too spicy, you will likely want to add the rest.)
4. Use larger round holes on grater to shred HALF of the coconut.
5. Drain water from corn.
6. Add Chicken, spices, coconut, peeled tomatoes, corn to onions in saucepan. Heat over medium flame, stirring regularly to keep from burning on the bottom. Until it is just about to boil vigorously.
Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce
They might not be necessary at all. Their purpose is simply to add consistency. Add some paste if mixture is too runny, or some sauce if mixture is too thick.
Once you have tasted it, I bet you will decide to add the rest of the sauce packet. But that’s up to you. You might also want to add more grated coconut, but I doubt it.
Serve over rice (I sent you two microwaveable rice packets, to make it easy). Or over some shape of macaroni, which I prefer.
And send me the review.
P.S. Tell your wife that I am duty-bound to take care of you. Our two boys, now ages 27 and 22 are both Concord Academy (and Yale) graduates.
FOOD continued…can you ever have too much food?
This email will outline some very specific suggestions. But PLEASE tell me what alternative ideas you have!
1. Meals to prepare for: 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners, plus drinks and snacks
2. Time frame for decisions Based on your reactions to the proposals in this email, I suggest that we buy all the food on Thursday, August 18 at the huge Vons supermarket in Mammoth Lakes. I have to do a conference call that morning from 9am until 1030 Pacific Time. Can we plan to meet at Vons at 11am on Thursday?
3. Parameters for cooking, refrigeration and bear-proof storage A. Cooking: I will have a new two burner Coleman camping stove, which should be our heating source. I have tested it here in Southern California. Just in case it malfunctions, I also have two smaller single-burner units. They all run on isobutane cartridges, like the ones used in Jet-Boil stoves, which in my experience do not clog up the burners.
I have a stainless steel cook kit, ample in size and reasonably heavy duty. And a large and a medium teflon fry pans. I also have plates, bowls, insulated mugs and eating and cooking utensils. And sponges, etc. to clean u with
B. Refrigeration: I have purchased at Walmart a super-insulated cooler, a copy of the Yeti brand, with thick walls. I also have a stack of the blue freezer packs to help keep things cold. Based on what others have told me, I am quite confident that we can keep food from spoiling for the 4 days of our trip. The cooler is a model approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for safe use in the backcountry.
When empty, the cooler is 28 quarts in size. Think of 7 one-gallon large milk jugs. But after inserting the freezer packs, the available capacity probably declines to 4 or 5 gallons.
C. Bear-proof storage: In addition to the cooler, the horse packer will provide a durable metal container that any bears that come to visit us at Lake Ediza won’t be able to get into. In fact, because the bears know these coolers and containers, they probably wont even try.
4. Specific menu suggestions:
A. Question — are either of you allergic to anything, or are there any foods that don’t particularly like or try to avoid?
B. Breakfasts (4 meals): The three options that I have found work well for my taste are:1. Omelets. I have found this one variety of powdered eggs called OvaEasy, which is really quite good. Mixed with some grated cheese and perhaps some chopped vegetables (like onions, peppers and grape-sized tomatoes, they make a quite creditable omelet. Because I had weight loss surgery 3 years ago, I need to be sure that I get enough protein every day, and this is a particularly good source of protein, and I would propose we do omelets for 2 of our 4 breakfasts. We’ll buy some salsa to add.
And I have some dried hash browns, Hungry Jack brand, that can be really good with fresh onions, fried thoroughly.
I also sometimes bring along some pre-cooked real bacon soft crumbles that Costco sells. Would that appeal to either of you? I have used them for well over a week on treks in Nepal without refrigeration, and I am sure that with our cooler they will be fine for 4 days, I don’t have great ideas for bread to have with breakfast. One option could be English muffins, which we can toast somewhat successfully over the gas stove, using a simple wire stand that sits on top of a burner.
I have already purchased two jars of jam, fig and blueberry, or we can change that to some other flavor that you prefer.
2. instant oatmeal, like Quaker packets We can get items to mix in, like cinnamon, dried raisins, cranberries and chopped dates. Plus any nuts (such as walnuts or pecans, assuming there are no allergy issues)?
3. Pancakes I have found the Aunt Jemima “Complete” brand, to which all we need to add is water, to be reliable. Again, we can add dried fruit and nuts. Or bring along a can of fruit, like strawberries or peaches. Or a bag of frozen fruit. Plus some maple syrup or honey.
C. Lunches (5 days): Since the plan is to do day hikes where we will bring our lunches to eat en route, we need something simple. Here are some ideas, each of which can be served on crackers.
1. Nut butter and jam Peanut, almond or walnut butter. And whatever flavor of fruit jam that you like
2. Canned crabmeat, made into “salad” by mixing with mayonnaise. Really quite tasty, in my estimation.
3. The same with canned tuna fish, or canned chicken. I also have some flat cans of Trader Joe’s lightly smoked farm-raised trout, which many people quite like.
5. Onion or bean dip, Wise brand or Frito-Lay, from cans
6. Canned ham or turkey (or sliced versions, kept cold in the cooler)
7. Some form of vegetables that don’t deteriorate in the heat of the day, like cucumbers or zucchini
8. Jerky or pepperoni (possible turkey pepperoni). Or dry salami, which I’m not a big fan of.
9. Jars of pesto or sun-dried tomatoes.
D. Dinners (4 nights): 1. Chicken Tikka Masala, based on the Sukhi’s Indian spice packet that Jamey tested. Using canned chicken, plus canned peeled plum tomatoes and corn, and either shredded coconut or shelf-stable whipped cream for richness.
We can either serve it over some shape of pasta or instant rice.
2. Pasta with some form of tomato-based sauce. I usually add mushrooms, onions and peppers, canned eggplant caponata if I can find it, and possibly some canned chicken for protein. I also have one can of freeze-dried beef crumbles, which we can use either in the pasta sauce, or in the chili with beans dinner.
3. Pad Thai Using rice noodles, canned crabmeat, various veggies (maybe some snow peas, scallions and corn, etc.), and a special sauce packet from Thailand.
4. Chili with beans and either canned chicken or beef I have some quick-cooking dried beans in 3 varieties: Black, navy and kidney. I suggest that we mix them together. And add meat and some fresh vegetables and peeled tomatoes. And serve over rice. Let’s not forget the seasoning packet!
5. But there are many other options that might consider. One idea I’ve had, because of the ice chest, is to get some refrigerated pre-cooked chicken strips, which we could heat up and make into fajitas?
6. I have packets of instant Miso soup, if that is appealing. Or we can buy some other instant soup.
1. Coffee for breakfast I have a camping type French Press, made of unbreakable Lexan. We can buy some ground coffee and use this. Alternatively, I have instant packets of coffee from Vietnam (premixed with powdered milk and some sugar and I think some artificial sweetener) or Starbucks VIA coffee packets.
I have shelf-stable Half and Half mini containers as a whitener. Or we can bring some heavy cream, which is what I use at home.
2. Black Tea?
3. Hot chocolate? I don’t drink it any more, but maybe one of you would like some?
4. Cold drinks. I will probably bring some iced tea powder, already sweetened with sugar. What kind of powdered drink appeals to you two?
F. Desserts For dinner, unless you decline, I would propose a couple of treats, which can be served in pre-made individual-sized graham cracker pie crusts: Chocolate Mousse (made with the shelf-stable whipped cream) and/or Creme Brûlée.
I also have some Tim Tam cookies from Australia which I adore, and some chocolate.
So, PLEASE COMMENT on what I have proposed. And let me know what you would like to add. What have I forgotten??
We can buy all of this stuff on Thursday in Mammoth at the Vons supermarket. See you there at 11am.
Current Wild Fire Update & Map
Well, with 26 days to go until our trip is scheduled to head out for Lake Ediza, the wildfire situation remains unpredictable. If the spread of fires is kind enough to not get a whole lot worse than it is now, I think that the trip will still be feasible. The attached photo is from one of the web sites that look at twice a day, to keep updated.
The fires that we need to particularly watch out for are the ones either close to Ediza Lake, or the nearby town of Mammoth Lakes, or the ones burning to the west or southwest of Lake Ediza, because that is where the prevailing winds at Ediza will come from, possibly laden with smoke.
The only fire in that compass direction is the Hoover Fire, which is reported to be 90% contained, at a distance of about 20 miles from Ediza.
There is another purported fire called “Silver,” to the south of Ediza. But the rangers at Sierra National Forest and those posted near Reds Meadow (our horse packing service) say they have not heard of such a fire.