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#7036 - 09/02/10 01:28 AM Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7524
Loc: Fresno, CA
Last week, I completed the last section of unfinished John Muir Trail. My friend Don and I started at Devils Postpile, and hiked south over Silver Pass, exiting at Edison Lake.

We both packed light packs. Don's was 17 lbs, mine just a little heavier, since I had the bear canister. We got quite a bit of attention over the packs, both from ZPacks.com. My pack weighs 10 oz empty, and looks something like a plastic trash bag with straps.

And I couldn't believe the size of some of the packs some people were carrying. We met one older couple, and the gentleman was carrying what looked like a 70 lb pack! He was in great spirits, though. Wish I'd taken a picture.

As for the lost part... We actually got lost twice. The first evening, after a hectic trip across the Sierra to get to Lee Vining to get the permit before the offices closed, then hurrying to catch the Devils Postpile shuttle bus before dark, we enjoyed touring the postpile. Don's first time.

Then we started down the trail toward Rainbow Falls, fully aware that we need to go left (eastward) on the JMT at some point. Unfortunately, the place we were supposed to turn was a sign pointing to Reds Meadow. Another sign pointed north for the JMT in that direction, but did not specify which of the other two trails was the JMT south. The correct trail was the one going east toward Reds Meadow! But we continued south about 15 minutes before I got worried enough to check the map. We had to backtrack to get on the correct trail.
Picture of burned off forest at night We continued on maybe an hour and a half before deciding to camp near a spring. We hiked through a burned out forest in this area, enjoying doing it at night, since much of it is dry and there is no shade. We had fun taking several time-exposure pictures, using a tiny clamp (Pedco UltraPod) and our hiking poles as a tripod. Here's a picture. The brightness is from the moon about to rise.


I thought the spring would be an excellent source of pure drinking water (we did not take water purification equipment) but discovered the water had a salty taste, with some soda and carbonation. I got water from another stream that was fine.

The second day, we hiked south to Crater Meadow, where we made a wrong turn. Being close to Reds Meadow, there are lots of trails in the area, and at this point, riders had made a connecting trail heading east along the north side of Crater Meadow. But this connecting trail IS NOT ON the map! There were no signs, and I did NOT see the actual JMT where it crossed the creek. Apparently this unmarked trail connects to an old section of the JMT, because we soon came to a junction with an old sign pointing south labeled "Muir Trail". Farther along, another white metal strip high on a tree read "John Muir Trail" (wish I'd taken pictures). So we felt we were doing ok ...until we came to a 3-way junction with a sign to Deer Creek and the other to Mammoth Pass. No mention of the JMT or PCT!

Picture of PCT trail signWe took the wrong choice since the Deer Creek started out heading northeast, and we wanted to be heading south. Unfortunately Mammoth Pass was off my maps. The trail meandered around, climbing, and finally heading due north. At that point, we could see the top of Mammoth Mountain to the north, and I had cell service so I called my son in Michigan. He looked up our Spot signal location, and after some struggling to coordinate our different maps (He had Google's terrain view, I had a topo map) I realized which trail we were on. We had to backtrack, and take the Deer Creek route. Walking 200 yards down that trail, we hit another junction with a sign labeling each direction of the PCT.

Once that silliness was behind us, we made good progress, camping at Purple Lake. It is a very pretty spot. I tried fishing, got a fish to follow my lure, but that was it.

Picture of Don and Steve at Purple LakeNext day we hiked past Lake Virginia, dropped into Cascade Valley and Tully Hole (a meadow at the bottom of a steep slope). Clouds began building, and several hours later, as we arrived at Silver Pass, a quick storm blew through. We were pelted with tiny snow and ice pellets for a short time.

We had planned on camping another night, then realized Edison Lake was within striking distance, so we went for it. We missed the ferry by half an hour, so camped near the pick-up point, and got the 9:45 ferry in the morning. Don's fiance picked us up and we had a pleasant drive back to Fresno.

I'll be driving back to Mammoth with the family this weekend to pick up the other car that we left over there.



  Click the flower to see
  the rest of the pictures.

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#7044 - 09/02/10 10:14 AM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
James Offline


Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 66
Loc: CA
Great TR, sounds like fun!

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#7056 - 09/02/10 07:42 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Very nice.Pretty country.Very confusing signage for sure.Sucks having to back track.Congrats on finishing the JMT.Closure is a great feeling!!!

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#7057 - 09/02/10 07:57 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
wazzu Offline


Registered: 06/20/10
Posts: 319
Loc: Orange County, CA
Great TR and congrats on finishing the JMT. The night photo is beautiful.

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#7109 - 09/07/10 12:27 AM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7524
Loc: Fresno, CA
And here's a followup to the trip above...

Since we left a car over in Mammoth, I headed over Friday afternoon with my family for a weekend visit.

Mammoth is sure a great place to see in the summer! It's a bit touristy, but beyond that, there are fun things to do. We took a gondola ride to the summit of Mammoth Mountain. Biking is a big deal in the summer.


Took our kayak out on one of the lakes:


Then there was a Labor Day arts and crafts fair. Best one I've ever seen. Spectacular photography, glasswork, woodwork and sculpture artists. Even a clown or two:


The drive home was the drawback -- long and slow with holiday traffic. Here's a little rock monkey by Lake Tenaya -- she wanted to climb a rock rather than paddle the kayak again.

Getting down was tougher than going up!

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#7251 - 09/13/10 10:41 AM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
jmtbob Offline


Registered: 09/13/10
Posts: 3
Loc: san francisco, ca
Lost on the JMT, impossible!!! yes, the signage coming into Red's ain't that great. I think it's all a ploy by the folks at Red's to make the burgers taste (even) better once you thankfully get there.

I always do my best to get into Reds, eat, make calls, get a shower and then get out of there, as I don't much care for the "backpackers camp" . . . or rather, I should say, I love spending the night on the cones, so much more.

There are two trails headed south from Red's . . . one is the current "official" trail and the other is--to the best of my knowledge--the old JMT. . . the official trail, as noted on the Harrison map(s) picks up down around the stables and wanders up into the burnt forest, taking you BETWEEN the two RED CONES, where you then cross the creek (below Crater Meadow) heading south on the JMT.

If you get to the creek and don't cross, but just head left, or east, you'll end up going backward towards the Mammoth Junction (or pass?) trail . . . and possibly find yourself back at Red's if you're really not paying attention.

also, on the official trail, if you are not paying attention, you won't even realize you're moving between the cones.

The other trail headed out of Red's is just behind the restaurant and takes you up, junctions with the mammoth pass trail and then, after plodding along in the dead forest, drops you into the dark woods and then, skirts the backside of the major cone----and here, you can walk out and up to the top and even spend the night.

In the morning you drop back down to the trail and meander into Crater Meadow and the creek crossing.

If you do spend the night on top of the cone, PLEASE try and leave it as it is. Don't try to build any fires----or bury anything ( like TP) . . . it's bad enough that there's horse poop up there.

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#7260 - 09/13/10 12:43 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: jmtbob]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7524
Loc: Fresno, CA
> and the other is--to the best of my knowledge--the old JMT. . .

I agree. That would explain why we saw the old, split sign, on a bent-over tree labeled "Muir Trail" at a trail junction east of Crater Meadow. And farther along, high on a tree, a thin white metal band with "John Muir Trail" on it. These are both NOT on the current JMT.

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#7261 - 09/13/10 12:55 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: jmtbob]
lynn-a-roo Offline


Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 627
Loc: OrangeCounty
Steve,

Your hike with your friend sounds like quite the adventure. I've been telling my friends we should do some hiking in the Mammoth area and after seeing your photos, I'm sure we should now...the sights are beautiful. Getting lost or hurt is the reason my boyfriend never goes on the adventures with us girls, he always says, "whose going to take care of the animals if one of us gets hurt?".

Oooh, I like seeing the bikes at the top of the gondola. I've always wanted to do that. I've skied Mammoth many times, but never seen it much in summer. I'll have to put it on the Bucket List.

Thanks for sharing all your pictures. I hope your daughter got down from the rock without too many scrapes.

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#7273 - 09/13/10 06:07 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Hey Steve, I just realized I never responded to this! Sorry man! Congrats on completing the JMT - that's a very nice accomplishment for such a young man as yourself! Now you can start section-hiking the PCT - 2012 is doable, right? smile

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#7285 - 09/13/10 10:10 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7524
Loc: Fresno, CA
Lynn-a-roo, she got down fine. It was easy going up, just a little dicey getting her down.

Gary, thanks. Though I've seen enough of that PCT for a while (without even setting foot). wink

Actually, I've got my eye on some trans-Sierra hikes. Maybe some repeat adventures ...ever been to Havasupai?

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#7292 - 09/14/10 05:05 AM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Havasupai's on the bucket list. I know a couple that did it a few years ago. The wife, pretty much a non-hiker, got pissed at hubby's relentless pace in the heat coming back up and just sat down, refusing to budge until a chopper lifted her out. She claimed heat exhaustion at the time, but later admitted it was pure orneriness at not wanting to be doing the trip at all, combined with hubby's lack of sympathy.

She did say it was one of the most beautiful places she had ever been to.

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#7302 - 09/14/10 08:59 AM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7524
Loc: Fresno, CA
I heard about a Sierra hike in October where one hiker refused to budge after a foot of snow fell.

Since my wife isn't much of a hiker, I've been toying with the idea of paying the chopper for round trip runs in and out of Havasupai. They would love the waterfalls and swimming in the pools below.

If you ever go, do it in May or September. Avoid the summer heat!!! And do the hike to the Colorado: Wear sneakers and just walk through the water. There are numerous stream crossings, and stopping to remove shoes will prevent your going all the way. 16 miles rt.


Edited by Steve C (09/14/10 09:00 AM)

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#7305 - 09/14/10 09:23 AM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Steve C]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
The real problem is finding the time (and $$$) to get there from the east coast. Now that the family is dialed in on two weeks in the Sierra each summer, plus my annual winter Death Valley getaway, we have a challenge. The only national parks we still have left to visit in the West-of-the-Mississippi Lower 48 are Yellowstone/Tetons/Glacier, and Crater Lake. Gotta squeeze those in somehow. Plus Alaska - more bucket list parks. We love the Grand Canyon (who doesn't?!), but we've been there twice in recent years, visiting both rims. I doubt if I could get away with floating that idea to the family any time soon.

So many trails - so little time and funding! Obama needs to use his bully pulpit to push through a National Park Visitation Stimulus Package!

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#7811 - 09/26/10 07:10 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Bulldog34]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1007
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Hey Steve, don't you live in Mammoth area?

next time, just skip Reds area.

much prettier options southbound:

(A) go out Duck Pass to join JMT

(B) go up from Lake George to Mammoth Crest, turn left at the red scree area on the trail leading to Deer Lakes. Go cross country up the talus slope above the lakes ,across a divide, then down to the Duck Lake trail as it descends on the south side of Duck Pass ( note: this route is easier to figure out going the other direction, sorry.)

Harvey

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#7812 - 09/26/10 07:31 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Hey Steve, don't you live in Mammoth area?


Doesn't he wish! Fresno is Steve's stomping ground.

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#7827 - 09/26/10 10:54 PM Re: Lost on the JMT: Reds Meadow southbound [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7524
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Doesn't he wish! Fresno is Steve's stomping ground.

Well... it IS close by. Only about 70 miles by crow. But it is a 5-hour drive in summer, about 7 in winter, since Tioga Pass is closed.

But thanks for the good advice, Harvey. I wanted to do that stretch, though, since it was the last unfinished piece of the JMT for me.

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