Day 3 (2016/08/22)
Start: Tully Hole, 9,550 feet
Distance: 6.3 miles
End: Duck Creek, 9,995 feet
After waking up at 5am and staying wide awake for a while, neither of us were ready to get up in the morning when the alarm went off. Then we were stretching, leukotaping and generally disorganized so it took a little while to get out.
We started off feeling pretty strong, which is good, because we started switchbacking immediately. The views were unbelievable, each time we switchbacked again we had to stop and take it in and take another picture. It definitely makes the climbing easier! We met a ton of people going the opposite direction, they encouraged us letting us know we were almost at the beautiful lake!
The trail did flatten out and I got excited because I saw a clearing up ahead. I joked that it was a meadow because I had expected it to be a lake so many times and been disappointed by a meadow. Turns out it was just rocks. I was deeply disappointed. Fortunately, just a bit farther we actually reached Lake Virginia. I tried to push myself to make it around until we had a better view but I couldn’t do it, we stopped on a couple rocks for a break.
Our very first Pacific Crest Trail blaze!
A few seconds later this duo that had been “chasing” us up the switchbacks. We chatted with Mark and Sarah for about 15 minutes, they were doing the whole JMT and they were really nice! The girl even said her pack was pretty empty and that she’d be willing to pack out our trash to Red’s Meadow! We didn’t take her up on her offer but I couldn’t believe that.
They kept going a few minutes before us and then as we walked around the lake, we passed a woman coming our way, she asked us if we were “Miyoko and Greg” and when we said we were she handed us two maps. Apparently Sarah and Mark thought that our map wasn’t very good and they were giving us theirs! I wish we could have caught up to them and thanked them but that was pretty much impossible.
We made it to the end of the lake and came out on a beautiful view at the inlet. We crossed there and ran into a little family of what I will call ducks because I feel silly pretending like I know the difference but Greg will want to specify are mallards. It was too early for lunch and we had just stopped for a break so we took a few pictures and get moving. We had to walk up a bit from this lake and then a lot of down toward Purple Lake. We were hearing thunder the whole way down so we kept a brisk pace.
We got down to the lake, a beautiful place to have a lunch break! We found a nice spot next to the water and treated ourselves to some well-earned food. We wondered along with everyone passing by us if/when we would get rained on. We put on our rain covers, I put on my jacket and rainpants and gloves. Within five minutes of walking, we reached a junction, I was overheating and I took off my jacket and my gloves. We start climbing steadily, and I overheat even more. I start to feel rather silly in my rainpants, but I am much too lazy to remove them.
All of a sudden, these rock hard mini snowballs start falling from the sky! Ya, okay, a meteorologist might refer to this phenomenon as hail but they really looked like mini snowballs. I feel vindicated in my pants, we pause to put on our jackets and I put my gloves back on. And then it didn’t stop and it got stronger, the snow was actually staying on the ground, and the snowballs were less cute. The water soaked through my jacket and gloves and I was freezing. The cold did not seem to bother Greg at all. I couldn’t even take a break because I was so chilled.
A guy coming the opposite way told us we were about a 1/2 mile to the Duck Lake junction. We were told there were campsites around there so I made the executive decision that we would be sleeping there tonight! Greg had read, and several people were also warning us, that this would be the last water source for the next 5 miles; it was still early but I was pretty sure I couldn’t make it that far. The precipitation stopped, and the walk down to the junction was easy, and then we walked a tiny bit further to Duck Creek; I spent the time daydreaming about curling up in my sleeping bag and being able to feel my toes.
There were quite a few campsites taken already, a friendly guy we had met earlier on the trail was already set up and he told us there was a nice big one right next to him! We checked it out and it was perfect! It was plenty large enough for our tent, and someone had made the cutest little writing`cooking tables. We set up the tent and I hopped right into my bag while Greg reviewed maps. It didn’t actually warm me that much, and I wasn’t feeling very productive. I went down to the creek to filter water while Greg made me hot chocolate. The sun came out, we did some stretching and I warmed up. We continued with our evening chores, had supper (couscous was yummy), cleaned up (we were right near the water and it was an easy walk to it, which was lovely) and got to bed nice and early. It was a little hard to sleep in daylight, but we really needed to get up early the next morning so we stuck our heads in our sleeping bags and went to sleep.
So how do you like hiking?
It has its ups and downs.