Crater Creek

Twin Lakes to Crater Creek
(11 miles, +1500/-3000 feet).

I’m really lucky I get to do two trips with Ultrashuffle this year.  And on this first one, he brought family and friends!

We originally planned to hike from Mammoth to Yosemite Valley on the John Muir Trail, but it’s been a huge snow year and everything above 8500 feet is still socked in with snow.  So we decided to head south from Mammoth and do a loop down Crater Creek and Fish Creek and then back up to the John Muir Trail to return.

We all converged on Mammoth yesterday, and then got a nice early start this morning.  We parked the cars at Twin Lakes, where it was already pretty.

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Twin Falls
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Looks lovely!
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Ready to go!

Our first challenge was to climb over Mammoth Pass, and rather than road walk up to Horseshoe Lake we took a trail up from Twin Lakes.  We started hitting patchy snow almost immediately.

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The Mammoth Lakes basin
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Slowly we climb
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Snow below Mammoth
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Geo
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Scamper
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Bee’s Knees
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Lake Mary and Horseshoe Lake
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Finder in the snow

We stopped for a nice break at a rocky outcrop about 300 feet above Mammoth Pass.

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Scamper on a rock
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Ultrashuffle and Lake Mary
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Horseshoe Lake still partially frozen over
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JimmyJam and Finder
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Geo below Mammoth Mountain

After lunch we did just a bit more climbing before starting our descent to Red’s Meadow.

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More fun in the snow
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Whee!
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Almost done

We lost the snow at about 8800 feet, but we had wandered a bit north of the trail and we found ourselves amid a huge tangle of blowdowns.

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Out of the frying pan….

After about an hour, we made it through the blowdowns and back to the trail.

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Blowdown closeup
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That was tough!
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Iron Mountain, the Minarets, Mount Ritter, and Banner Peak
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Welcome to the wilderness!

The trail wound down, down, down through the Rainbow Fire burn area.  We were surprised to learn that it happened almost 30 years ago!

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Through the burn zone

I thought we would find water every mile or so, but in this stretch we didn’t find any for about 3 miles.  We were all thirsty and happy to refill when we found a spring.  We stopped for lunch.

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Refill and recharge!

After lunch we continued down toward Reds Meadow.

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Down, down, down

At one stop there were hundreds of butterflies.  One decided she liked me!

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Hello friend!

We passed the stables above Reds Meadow and took the pack trail down to Rainbow Falls, which were spectacular.

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Wow!

After a nice break at the falls, we continued on towards Crater Creek.

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Mammoth above the burn zone
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Geo in the Ceanothus
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This is fun!
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Down, down, down

About a mile south of Rainbow Falls, we found rock formations that were similar to those at the Devils Postpile.

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Columnar basalt in the wild!
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With lichen!
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And curvy!

Below these formations, we entered a valley where we once again were surrounded by trees.

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Back in the woods
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Finder finds water
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Lovely pine cones
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Scamper scampers through the ferns
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Snake!

When we neared the trail crossing of Crater Creek, we started looking for a campsite for the evening.

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Looking for a room with a view

But after a half an hour of searching, we decided to camp right where we had dropped our packs — and it was amazing!

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Flowers by the creek
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Wait.  Now how does this go?
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Beautiful

 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Megan Virona says:

    beautiful place!

    Liked by 1 person

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