August 11, 2014
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Day 8 – Red’s Meadow (7,500) to Deer Creek (9,100),
Camped at Deer Creek.
Woke to scattered clouds. The first morning that wasn’t crystal clear since Half Dome.
Today was supposed to be our first zero-day, i.e., no miles hiked, but since we couldn’t get a second night at Red’s Meadow Resort and would have to camp down the road at the campground we decided that we might as well hike after lunch and get a head start on the trail to Vermilion Valley Ranch.
Breakfast at the café is a real treat. They’re masters at all the basics – eggs, pancakes, fried potatoes, sausage and bacon.
After breakfast we leave our packs at the general store and take the shuttle to Mammoth Lakes, $7 return. The trip turns out to take longer than we expected as you need to transfer at the Adventure Center to get to Mammoth Village. Then to get to other parts of town from the village there are trolley buses that circle the main streets. With connections you want to budget at least an hour to get to Mammoth Village and another 15 minutes to get anywhere else.
Our shopping done, we head back to Red’s Meadow for burgers at the café before hitting the trail. The sky churns with a mix of sun and clouds but nothing too menacing for the moment.
We take the trail out of Red’s Meadow Resort following the signs to Rainbow Falls until we connect with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), about ½ mile.
The trail first climbs through a burnt out area full of standing snags, their tops burned off, surround by various types of wild flowers and berries, including gooseberries and elderberries.
With the turbulent weather the air is particularly clear with stunning views of the mountain ranges we have just traveled through.
Once again into the forest the trail is less interesting. The terrain is more overtly volcanic – pumice stone at our feet and red conical peaks hidden behind the trees.
Nearing Deer Creek, our destination for the night, we pass a pretty meadow and continue along the pumice trail through the woods to the creek.
At 4PM no one is at the few sites just before the creek. Dark bands of clouds mixed with patches of blue sky continue to pass overhead for the next couple of hours. The clouds spit from time to time but produce little rain.
Deer Creek does not have the views of the previous days’ lake sites, still, it’s a pleasant location with large flat sites, some with fire pits. A group of three shows up a while we’re setting up camp but otherwise it’s quiet.
Two deer wander past camp on their way to the creek while we’re eating, validating the creek name.