John Muir Trail (JMT)
Day 9 – Deer Creek (9,100) to Lake Virginia (10,330),
Camped at Lake Virginia.
The turbulent weather continued through the night, spitting enough rain to soak the tent fly but not enough to wet the ground under the trees. We woke to the same unsettled sky that was to continue for the rest of the day.
The first 6 miles of the day’s hike from Deer Creek to Duck Creek is, according to Elizabeth Wenk’s trail guide, one of the most monotonous stretches of the JMT. The changeable weather, however, colors the sky with patches of blue mixed with dark threatening clouds that produce little until just before Duck Creek when we are suddenly and briefly pelted with hail and large of drops of rain.
This section, up, over and along the ridge has good views, occasionally visible through the trees, out to the west. Large pumice stones line the trail. At Duck Creek the scenery changes to an open valley with cliff views. Then it’s back to the previous scene, up and over a pass along a mountain side with views again to the west.
The trail heads back down to Purple Lake, a pretty lunch spot. The clouds race across the sky changing the light on the water and surrounding peaks. We take the opportunity of fleeting moments of sunshine to dry out the tent and bedding while we eat.
Past this lake it’s a short two miles up and over another pass. Near the top is a rock glacier. Ice underneath the rocks moves the mass down the mountain side.
We arrive at Lake Virginia just before 3PM. On this windy afternoon, we choose a campsite in the trees just above the inlet. Clouds continue to fly by, some looking dark enough to produce rain, but all moving too fast to the east to be much of a threat. Patches of sun illuminate the surrounding cliffs.
The temperature drops in the howling wind and we eat in the protection of large boulders near the campsite. The gusts diminish some after sunset but the wind continues off and on for most of the night.
August 12, 2014
For links to all the posts in this series see the John Muir Trail page.