26 July 2020
Duck Lake Outlet to Reds Meadow
(11.4 miles, +700/-3,100 feet).
Today was pretty and the trail was really nice and flat and duffy with beautiful views across the Fish Creek and Middle Fork San Joaquin Valleys.
But mostly today was about FOOD!
We awoke to a purply glow in the west and broke camp quickly to start our mostly-downhill march.
We made great time and arrived at Red Cones where we camped last year at about 11am.
It was fun to compare the campsite between last year and this year. For one thing, one of the streams that surrounded us last year was completely gone!
But the most noticeable thing was the absence of huge piles of snow.
After our walk down memory lane, we finished up the last 3 miles down to the metropolis that is Reds Meadow Resort.
Our first task was to eat! I had a milkshake, tuna melt, and a salad. Others had burgers and cole slaw and chips. Yum!
We also charged our electronics and took turns in the showers. A juvenile bear who has been frequenting the area decided to join us!
Unfortunately, when it was time to buy food to resupply for the rest of the trip the store was completely wiped out. With COVID this year they have had far fewer customers and we had to make due with a much smaller selection than usual. There were no dehydrated potatoes, no jars of peanut butter, no tortillas. They did have some snacks, though, and loaves of bread in the freezer and mountain house meals, so we did our best.
And, importantly, they had a good selection of beer! Ultrashuffle and I took turns finding the largest, best can to drink. It took three tries each to get it right….
We weren’t sure how things would be set up at the car campground nearby, and we heard from others that the backpacker section was extremely crowded. So in the interest of social distancing, we grabbed two available private sites that were adjacent to one another. Our only neighbors were some nice guys who were quiet and helpful. Sweet!
Half Cookie and I worried that we did not have enough food, so we found the hiker box in the backpackers’ campground and raided it for oatmeal and ramen. We even scored some hot sauce!
After we got repacked and had some dinner, Half Cookie and I took the short walk up to Satcher Lake. Although it did not have the same remote feel as the other lakes we have seen, it was still pleasant and we saw deer grazing nearby as the sky filled with stars.
One thing I really loved about today: I really felt like a thru-hiker. I’ve never done a resupply like this on any trip and it was fun to refuel and just hang out for the afternoon. Fresno was there (and so were Cheech and Chong) and I imagined that if I didn’t already have my own crew, it would be easy to chat with other hikers and have a wonderful and relaxing time. I think it bodes well for my PCT attempt next year….