July 7th . . . Red Cones

After the thrill of finding Scott was over, we went for burgers and met Ben & Erica. We didn’t get out of Reds until noon. 

We walked with the intention of getting to Duck Lake––a slight detour, but recommended over Purple Lake. 

We did the Red Cones. For a while we couldn’t figure out where we were and thought maybe we would could have put ourselves on the trail to Mammoth. 


I don’t remember much about this day, except the Red Cones. The official JMT passes between them and while you can see and get a sense of the cone on the right, the one on the left, is the grand one. 

We only managed to scramble around the base of the left cone and inspect some of the very dormant, fumaroles, holes, whatever you call them. 

There are two trails leading out of Reds. One of them is the official trail and starts down near the horse stables and although you might not find it on your own, there’s always a cow-girl standing around to point you in the right direction. 

The other trail is pretty much right behind the restaurant and I think the sign there might say, Mammoth Pass. 

If you take this trail you are doing exactly what the JMT does, going through the same burnt out forest, but you end up coming up essentially above and behind the major cone and you can pretty much, with a short climb, walk right up on top of it. 

After about four or five JMT’s, all of them spent camping in Reds, I got pretty tired of the place: too crowded and noisy. 

And even though I would usually slog in there in the late afternoon and really not feel like going any further––a meal, a few beers and a shower gave me all the energy I needed to put on the pack at about 5 p.m. and hike for another two-three hours to make it to the top of the cone, for a lovely night. 

I would advise anyone thinking to do this that they should bring a good supply of water, as this is another section where there is one source, but it is not always running. But if you got to the top of the cone and had no water, you’d just have to leave and hike down to Crater Meadow, where there has always been a good source of water. 

Lastly, and kind of sadly, last year (2012) due to a series of very heavy winds, many sections of the JMT were made very difficult due to downed trees. 

They managed to clear all of the JMT proper, but when I went to take my usual route up to the cones, I found the trail junction closed and the word was that the forest service was probably not going to clear the trail––so no more easy access to the left cone. 

And Scott and I never made it to Duck Lake, but rather, just the junction. We might have stayed there as it has plenty of water and several legal spots to camp, unlike Purple Lake, which as a few, off-limits, areas. 

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