Fox Meadow to Red Cones
(12 miles, +3,400 feet/-1,100 feet).
Today we thought we might only make it to Rainbow Falls to camp. But that area is very close to the developed areas around Reds Meadow, and it is dusty and mostly in a burn zone. I was hopeful we would have enough energy to continue on to a higher elevation in the woods somewhere.
We started out after breakfast this morning with a steep 1000 foot climb above Fish Creek. The cool morning air and beautiful views made it much easier than I was expecting.
We passed several snow plants on the way today. These bright red living things are plants, but they do not use chlorophyl. Instead they live in symbiosis with underground fungi. How cool!
At 7300 feet we started descending again, back through an idyllic wood that lay just above a massive area of granite.
I accidentally stopped for lunch where everyone wanted to press on. I told them to go ahead and I would catch up. Once I finished my tortilla, I packed up and found them near the columnar basalt we saw a few days ago.
While they ate lunch, I bushwhacked to the top to see what the basalt looked like from above. It was a little disappointing, but you could just barely make out some hexagonal tops to the columns.
I bushwhacked back down and everyone finished eating. Soon we were back on trail.
We reached Rainbow Falls at midday, and happily we decided to head up the John Muir Trail to Red Cones for our last night’s camp.
It was especially meaningful to get on the JMT given all the craziness with trying to cross Fish Creek to get there.
We had to climb about 1000 feet to Red Cones, but it was not steep since we had about 3 more miles to go. The sky filled with high clouds and a refreshing breeze swirled around us as we ascended.
By 3pm we made it to Red Cones and found a perfect flat campsite nestled among piles of melting snow.
Once we set up camp, Finder, Scamper, and I decided to climb the taller Red Cone.
The views from above were fantastic!
Scamper found a trail register for the summit. Turns out we were the first ones to sign it this year!
The top of the volcano is actually a caldera with a nice rim to circumnavigate all around.
We made our way back down to camp where a wonderful fire was already burning and dinner was not far behind.
After dinner we watched a spectacular show as the sun set behind the Ritter Range.